The Gendered Conference Campaign has a theme song, written by the wonderful 21st Century Monads!! It can be found here. We are, obviously, very excited by this. Kris McDaniel agreed to answer some questions about it by email…
Jender: Why did you write this song?
Kris: As you know, we mainly write songs about philosophers, philosophical positions, or philosophical arguments. But in addition to writing songs about philosophers and philosophy, every album we’ve done a song addressing what we regard as a problem within the profession. The first song we released off of our first album (“New Monadology”) was “My Paper Was Rejected Again”, which discussed some of the frustrations of the anonymous-review process. In our second album, “Total Monadic Domination”, we released a song titled “Don’t Get Smoked at the Smoker”, which was directed at what I regard as the horror show of Eastern APA interviews.
For this album, I wanted to write a song in support of the “Gendered Conference Campaign” started by you folks at the feminist philosopher’s blog. You (= the people who run the blog) have done a great job at raising awareness of the importance of making women in the profession more visible through a combination of consciousness raising and naming and shaming. As someone who recently co-organized a large conference in metaphysics, I can testify that having this issue made salient in our minds was motivationally effective. We (= the 21st Century Monads) wanted to help spread the message in some way.
Jender: What are you hoping achieve by releasing this song?
Kris: We hope to provide another venue to get the message out. We have a surprisingly decent-sized audience given who we are and what our music is about. Some of our fans are undergraduates and graduate students at the start of their careers who might not otherwise be thinking about the issues the song raises. (Most undergraduates and newly minted graduate students aren’t organizing conferences or editing anthologies.) It seems to me that it’s a good thing if we can get them involved in the conversation early on. And in general, since we don’t know the extent to which people listening to our music are regular readers of your blog or vice-versa, the song might reach some new people. I think (I hope) the song is catchy, enjoyable to listen to, and funny, and maybe that will help make people receptive to the message.
I’m also hoping that people like yourself and your fellow bloggers – people who’ve been actively transmitting the message – will take some pleasure in the fact that we are saying with this song “message received”.
Jender: Are there any misinterpretations you worry about?
We did have some concerns. First, that some people might be put off by the term “lady”. Second, that the song itself might come across as slightly prurient or salacious. But I thought that this actually works to the advantage of the song though: the first two lines in the song set up expectations that something unsavory is intended (“why does he want to see the ladies??!”), but then the rest of the lyrics defuse the implication, and hence the song is funny without coming across as being excessively preachy. That is my hope anyways. I also was a little concerned that releasing a jokey song about a topic that a lot of people care about might leave the impression that we aren’t taking the issues seriously, when in fact the exact opposite is true.
Jender: Why doesn’t Carrie sing on it?
We are a band of three: me, Carrie Jenkins, and Ben Bradley. On this song, I’m singing the lead vocals, with Ben singing the back up vocals. On some of our songs Carrie sings lead vocals, and on some of them I sing lead. Usually on the songs in which I sing lead vocals, Carrie contributes background vocals – I love singing with Carrie since she has such a fantastic voice – but for this song, we decided that it made sense for just the men to sing. We all think it is very important that men be at least as vocal as women about the problem of poor gender representation in things such as conferences or edited volumes. This was Ben and my way of literally being at least as vocal. And although Carrie doesn’t sing on this song, she did contribute to the music: she’s playing the electric organ on this piece. (On our main webpage, next to each song are tabs you click on to see the lyrics and the liner notes.)
We will be releasing along with “I Like to See the Ladies” a companion piece in which Carrie sings lead vocal, titled “Still Not Male”, on a different issue: the perils of presupposing the gender of authors of anonymous papers. This song was based on a post at What is it Like to be a Woman in Philosophy.
The songs, liner notes, and more information about the Monads can be found here.