Sexism in Music Journalism: It was a satisfaction

adminDecember 27, 2018

To the authors

  • Volker Ißbrücker

    Sandra Grether is a musical, author and label operator – she wrote, intermittently, 16 years free of "Spex". Kerstin Grether is author and singer, from 1994 to 1997 she was editor of "Spex". The twin sisters live in Berlin, play together in the band Doctorella and run the blog "I need a genius". This text was first shown in a longer version of "Texte zur Kunst".

But I think: Oh, you slave on you! "(X Ray Spex)

As teenagers, we dressed as leather-spunk as the wild creatures depicted in "Spex", but attended a secondary school in a village near Heidelberg – not exactly the usual "Spex" reading circle. We were neither male nor late 20, did not have a university degree and were not born in the big city.

Significantly, "Spex" named for the early English punk band X Ray Spex, at that time one of the few female voices of punk rock. Punk had started with anti-sexist demands, which he could not solve in practice. On the cover of the very first issue in September 1980, a text about the Düsseldorf woman's punk band Östro 430 was announced, but in the article itself the musicians were already confronted with their alleged incompetence in the first question: "What do you do with music for your own facility. "

This was the case for the next 30 years. When we became female writers, it was true that if one of us did not write an article about female musicians from Germany, they were mostly ignored – and with them an ever-growing local scene of indie rock acts by women, ladies and trans women , It was always the German song male indie rock acts that told the story of the magazine – until you no longer knew if Tocotronic invented "Spex" or "Spex" Blumfeld.

Throughout the 38-year history, only seven female musicians from Germany were at the front of the magazine, we counted. In "Spex" one has always thought, whether writing about the female "next big" from abroad, or whether it just for "edgy" and "cool" found North American pop stars, so the possibilities of the musicians would already be as good as covered.

We remember hard verbal warfare in the press room when we tried to get the rapper Cora E. on the front page. Today, Cora E. is considered one of the inventors of the political Deutschrap.

Okay, he would sleep over there one night, the responsible music editor graciously announced, just to assure a possible next day's cover eventually in the reach of the most unbearable ideas in the world: "So excuse me, I just left the pictures Looked at the good Cora, it's really not possible, she has such a horse girl eater, I can't wear it, I can hardly look at them, and then we lose the readers. "The fact that Cora E. with" Schlüsselkind "had just written the most important The hymn for all divorce children, the non-spitmen, single mothers, did not make her a cover star in his eyes.

With Wibke Wetzker at the beginning of the 2010s, there was only once since the early eighties a female editor (who had to share the job with a colleague). Even more striking is that in "Spex", except in legendary early scenes, a woman never had a job as a music editor. I, Kerstin, had received the editorial job far lower paid culture directly after graduation in the mid-nineties, even though my specialty was the music. A smart film criticism had never been read by me.

The climate: feminist setback

One of my first actions was still to ask authors for music contributions. What I knew, at least guessed, was that there was no music journalist who specialized in one or more music songs that could match the boy's "cool knowledge" and a high degree of specialization. They were even rarer than women who made music.

Then no articles about Neofolk, Raggamuffin or Post-Hardcore-Free-Jazz. But texts about culture, brought the authors up where they were. The otherwise male student card dealt with my new idea of ​​writing on feminist deconstruction theories as if it were a very artificial, difficult art movement from Paris. In Germany, in the nineties, it was a climate with a feminist setback. In "Spex" it was open to exciting things for women, but there was always "other" niche.

In addition, New Wave journalists attributed feminism to a fake environment of green eco-philistinism (which includes "false music") as a necessary attitude to diversity – an unconscious exclusion strategy. Also rampant was a classic that only referred to women: When a "Spex" writer in a review wanted to express that he found a particular band or music in particular crap, he often took to the popular formula that was "Music for shop assistants and housewives" .

One should not do experiments with the oppressed

What made my job most difficult was the constant attribution of "hysteria", I burned for a topic. For male music journalists, who were characterized by a slightly heated temperament, rapid, emotionally charged speech was considered completely different. They were considered especially passionate advocates for their cause.

Salt-N-Pepa Cover 1988:


Salt-N-Pepa-Cover 1988: "The & # 39; Spex & # 39; Go Down With This Woman",

Especially as "Spex" at that time, the personnel policy was followed, that everyone in the editorial team was confronted with their "human" opposite, to argue in the inner circle of what was outside, a strategy from Warhol Factory. Thus, the resilient editorial with the short-term colleague was put in a room, the hip-hop faction was constantly arguing with the rock faction, and apparently: the self-confident feminist proclaimed as "politically correct" macho. As if the "gender struggle" had produced two equally strong opponents, who can now argue at eye level.

Having done such a good journal under these circumstances is something I will continue to enjoy for the rest of my life. For if the bearers of male privileges act as if they were equal to less privileged persons, and therefore they were bound to them without interruption, then this is anything but fun – and only partially productive. One should not experiment with oppressed groups of people: sexism, homophobia, racism are not "opinions" that can be discussed as a new album by Maximo Park.

"The Spex" goes down with this woman, "an employee predicted for a long time. In fact, some of the changes I made in my time as an editor made people rave about the" politically correct "phase phase twenty years later, when The magazine was oriented towards the new left which focused on the demands of outsiders.

I tried

photo gallery


End of "Spex":
Who invented Tocotronic?

Make the magazine as feminist as possible. Any writer who could write a "Spex" compatible text was received by me with a kiss. It was a satisfaction. They wrote about culture-centered topics, the Internet, television series, comics full-time. Thinking about the pop aspect was the beginning, before the total music specialization would begin, I hoped. In some cases, this was the case when a colleague who first wrote in "Spex" founded a magazine for electronic music. There were several freelance writers, columnists and editors in "Spex" in their twenties and teens.

And today? Music playback kills the collection star. And unfortunately also "Spex" itself, which publishes its latest issue on 27.12.2018, after which it will continue digitally with a new concept. Advertisers prefer to look for their influence on the internet. Let's hope the game does not start all over again, and music authors are also considered among these influencers. If necessary, we make the case, but also clear again.

The authors would like to thank those who have supported "Spex" for diversity, among others. Editors Clara Drechsler and Jutta Koether, editors Jacqueline Blouin, Annika Reith and Jennifer Beck, CEO Doris Volk, graphic designers Andrea Mündelein and Sabine Pflitsch, as well as editors Mark Terkessidis and Manfred Hermes.

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