The following article was penned by Novelty Daughter‘s Faith Harding, in response to a statement made by Robert Glasper during an interview with fellow jazz musician Ethan Iverson: “I’ve seen what that does to the audience, playing that groove. I love making the audience feel that way. Getting back to women: women love that. They don’t love a whole lot of soloing. When you hit that one groove and stay there, it’s like musical clitoris. You’re there, you stay on that groove, and the women’s eyes close and they start to sway, going into a trance.”
1. I very much fucked with the first Black Radio when it came out, but when I heard Black Radio 2 a year later, I was frustrated. It seemed complacent to me, as if Glasper was just settling into what he thought was great about himself. Lots of navel-gazing “in the pocket” stuff. It didn’t excite me.
2. I didn’t mention this very much at the time because Robert Glasper has a somewhat infallible reputation, and he felt difficult to criticize. That is, I was afraid, in some way, to criticize him. I did not trust my opinion, especially against the reverent chorus of my (mostly male and more-traditionally-jazz-educated) peers who sung his praises.
3. Maybe this kind of self-conscious silence that women like me retreat to, in lieu of honest criticism, is why Robert Glasper thinks he knows what women want. Even though no one ever asks women what they want, or what they like. Maybe this phenomenon of not listening, but just assuming, extends beyond music to other things as well. And yes, maybe this self-conscious silence on the part of women like myself is self-imposed, but maybe that self-imposition comes from past experiences that are not visible within the present moment.
4. Here is perhaps an example of one of those experiences: A woman reads an interview on a website that makes her upset. It describes her in a way that she does not agree with. It makes her feel unseen. Worst of all, those speaking are people who have made art that has, before, made her feel so very seen, that has resonated with her in a way that touched her, perhaps inspired her to engage creatively in her own right.
This bait and switch is painful. She expresses that pain, via a comment on the website, or an email. A few days later the interviewer pens publicly a “defense” that essentially reads: you are wrong to have accused me of this, you are wrong to have said anything, and you are wrong to have felt any of the things you have felt. They are not true.
Does it perhaps make sense where this self-conscious silence comes from, now? When you say to yourself, that you are not “seeing” many women in the jazz scene, and that the few that you do “see” excite you, have you ever asked yourself: where does this invisibility come from? Could it perhaps be a form of self-protection? Try and expand your mind to include these possibilities. Stretch your consciousness. Isn’t that what jazz is all about, baby?
5. I much prefer solos to “grooves.” And to offer my own tone-deaf gender stereotype from my own specific experience, most people I have met who love to zone out in trancelike states to groove-based music are brooding softboys, not women.
For better or for worse (and trust me, sometimes it feels like the latter), my enjoyment of music is based in the mind–the ideas it expresses, rather than how it makes my body feel. But that’s not supposed to be right, is it? Man think with head. Woman experience with body. I don’t know. I must be fucked up. I often feel so. But I have often been told that sense of wrongness is self-imposed too. “Just don’t read into it so much.” Has anyone else heard that one? Maybe if I could just turn my head off and swing my hips around to some sultry groove, I could enjoy my life.
6. The sexual analogy used within this interview betrays a terrible misunderstanding of how the clitoris should be approached.
Listen to Novelty Daughter’s 2016 LP, Semigoddess, below.