Guys and gals, let's try and do better, shall we? Exclaim! recently put up this review on its website:
All-female indie popsters Vivian Girls make no bones about what they do: low-fidelity garage rock steeped in amateurish pop. Key word? Amateurish. If these band members had penises, people would say they suck. However, they're empowered femmes who hold their instruments in that painfully awkward way only novices can, and are adored for it kind of like when the Donnas were first starting out, without the cool tunes, mind you. Their simplistic songs relayed in a pseudo-enthusiastic, trashy, loose way were amusing even if they lacked any true substance, but who needs something as unnecessary as meaning when you're that cute, right? Naturally, the crowd was raving even though this trio were clearly the least talented act on the evening's bill.
It then received a letter to the editor saying that the review was "half-assesd music 'journalism'" that was "offensive and sloppy," "chauvinistic," etc. The letter was not, I don't think, particularly on point, but there is an important point to be made here. And that point has nothing to do with personal musical taste, hype, the merits of the band in question, their adeptness with their instruments, or anything else like that. It has to do with the words Keith Carman used in his review, and how they betray his sexist attitude toward the band. But I don't mean to harp on Keith alone. I suspect few people would be able to point out where he went wrong.
Why are the words "trashy" and "loose" in this review? Both are generally gendered female---as in, they are words that are almost always used to refer to female beings and objects we think of as female. By using those words, he's very nearly called the members of the Vivian Girls sluts and whores, in addition to "amateurish," "painfully awkward," "pseudo-enthusiastic" novices with simplistic songs that lack substance.
One may certainly take issue with his non-gendered characterizations, but though they may be insulting and possibly uncalled for---I am not in a position to comment on them because I wasn't at the show---it's the gendered language that really offends. And there should be no place for this language in a review. Or anywhere.
No one's perfect, and I've surely been guilty of sexist language myself. My point is that we need to learn to recognize it when we see it, take note, a deep breath, and try not to do it the next time. But judging from the Facebook comments, people don't even see what I see. This is a real shame.