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I could never be your man.

leamirella's picture

I will admit that my post this week veers a little bit from what we looked at in class. However, I do feel that it is relevant to the course as a whole.

Some background info:
Today, I was sitting at my laptop in my room listening to my Pandora station. A friend came into the room wanting to talk so I switched my tabs, paused the song I was playing and then saw the name of the album that was currently playing. It was called "Women in Technology". My initial reaction was woah, this GIST course is taking over my life! And then (after freaking out at my geekiness) I decided to look more into why the album was named 'Women and Technology' and I thought it would be interesting to write about.

The name of the musical artist behind this album is White Town. I'm not going to waste space (and your time) talking about this guy so I've attached a quick link here in case you wanted to know. In interviews about his (I use this pronoun because it is the one that all the interviews use) album that I read, White Town reveals that he used minimal technology to create his songs in his apartment. With this minimal technology, his singles shot to #1 on the British Indie Charts.

Why do I think that this is relevant?
Throughout the course, I have noticed that we have been looking mostly at new, cutting edge technology. We've talked about how new technology has been influencing the way we read and think. (Hayles) But what I don't think we have really discussed yet is how simple, 'old' technologies have fitted into the new ways of thinking. We talked briefly how we've learned to hyperread new texts yet close read texts like 'Ulysses' which are older. (This is a new distinction that I'm making) My question is, because we have been trained to close read older texts and hyperread contemporary text, is it possible to interchange this? (I.e. close read modern texts and hyper read older texts?)

I feel that the fact that although "Your Woman" (the hit song off 'Women in Technology') was created using comparatively older technology yet has managed to appeal to modern audiences speaks to this. The audience for that type of music has been trained to be appealed to music with modern elements created by the newest technology yet, they are strangely drawn to music created with old technology. I thought that this was an interesting analogy for old/new technologies and texts as well as old/new ways of receiving information. Can old technology received in the new ways of thinking and reading be successful? (in this case, topping the music charts). I think this is an interesting point to consider because I feel that we assume that we are changing the ways in which we receive information  because technology is changing.

I also want to talk about White Town himself. For the longest time, he didn't want to do a live performance because he didn't think that watching a 'fat guy' meddle around with a synthesizer on stage was all too interesting. Despite not wanting to be a public, visual figure, he is very candid in his interview, especially on his website. The song, Your Woman, is really interesting because there is a male voice singing about how "I would never be your woman". This isn't a typical viewpoint. This provoked questions about White Town's sexual orientation and gender identity. I thought that this relates to Sherry Turkle's article about masking gender on online forums. While White Town (real name Jyoti Prakash Mishra) is biologically male, he has played around with his perceived gender and sexual orientation.

White Town is an interesting mix of the old and new. He creates music using old technology yet in terms of branding himself as an artist, he uses very new ways. The ambiguity of his gender and sexual orientation is perhaps, one of the driving forces of his career.



tangerines's picture

 Two aspects of this post

 Two aspects of this post really interest me. The first is the issue of the combination of new and old technology. I do a lot of this. I love a lot of different music, but I'm a huge fan of big-band music from the 30s and 40s. This music was recorded using (what we would now consider) extremely primitive technology, yet I listen to it on my laptop computer or on my iPod. This combination (old music, new technology) is the exact opposite of White Town's (new music, old technology) and I'd be very interested to compare the differences and similarities between these combinations of new/old technology.

The other part of your post that I thought was cool was the fact that White Town plays with his perceived gender and sexual orientation. Usually it's only socially acceptable for female artists to do this (in a very performative way - it's okay for Britney or Madonna to kiss a woman onstage as long as we know she's just "experimenting") without explicitly answering these questions for fans.

PS I'm definitely going to check out White Town now :)

Apocalipsis's picture

Agency over Gender Roles

That's such an interesting album. It really synthesizes some of our analysis this semester about the role of agency in both physical and virtual gender roles and about who is credible/ able to take on the role of the other and the implications doing so can have. The composition of the album is also vital in making a statement about waste, popular culture and efficiency. I think that Pandora, being a mainstream, popular music site is also breaking binaries for its audience by diversifying their musical tastes. I mean, honestly, what are the chances of hearing of this album elsewhere?

spreston's picture

I notice that while the album

I notice that while the album name is "Women in Technology," you once reference it as "Women and Technology."  I make quick typos like that all the time, but I was interested in this one because we have talked a lot about the difference between looking at women in technology versus women and technology.  As recently as our Subramanium reading, we saw a similar divergence.  At the beginning of feminist science studies, the focus was on studying women IN science.  As the field progressed, however, the focus became on women AND science.  Before this course, I haven't thought much about how much a single preposition can change the meaning of something.  If this album had been called "Women and Technology," would we have taken a different meaning from this?

I was intrigued by your observation that we have not explored how old technologies fit into our new way of thinking.  For me, I think that old technologies have become such a constant, given part of my life that it is difficult to see how they influence my thinking.  Since I take old technologies for granted, I cannot pinpoint their influence on my point of view.  I am curious what other people think about old technologies' role in our new ways of thinking.

smile's picture

Our course and our daily life

 I want to comment on this post because a similar story happened to me. Today I was invited to lunch with some professors and we were discussing the revolutions which are taking place in the Arab world, and one of them mentioned the name Nawal Esaadawi as a feminine figure who was contributing in the Egyptian revolution. I already know the woman as a feminist but for my surprise today I knew that she is also a physician who graduated from a medical school and worked as a doctor for many years. But now she is giving much care to her humanistic writings using for sure her scientific background and advanced technologies.In this case I think the prepositions" In" and "and" are both applicable...I think that in the case of Essadawi ,and many other  scientist-humanistic women ,there is no contradiction between "women in technology "and" woman and technology".

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