Monday, October 28, 2013

Saudi "No Woman, No Drive"

I drive a lot.

I love to drive.

I sold my first car with 153K miles.

The second car with 137K miles.

My current car is 122K miles.

I drive many, many miles.

As I drove yesterday I heard a news story about how some Saudi women are fighting right now for the right to drive.

To my knowledge, despite countless jokes and disparaging comments, American women have always been driving.


Today there is news about a parody of a Bob Marley song that has gone viral.  It is titled "No woman, No drive" and talks of the opposition to Saudi women driving.  (To me, with my 21st century view of rights, it is silly and ridiculous oppositional reasoning.)

Recently there was a PBS program that told of the equal rights movement here in the United States.

As I watched history unfold I found myself appreciating the women who have gone before me to make it possible for me to do whatever I want to do.

This is not saying that I agree with them politically or that they went about securing equal rights in a way that I condone, but I can't help but be grateful for them.

You see, because of them I can drive my car wherever I wish.  I can do anything within God's will and the law.

Unlike the Saudi women.


In music, women have struggled for equal footing with their male counterparts.

Amy Marcy Cheney Beach was a self-taught musician - she translated foreign instrumentation treatises to learn how to orchestrate music.

Upon learning she was writing symphonic works, critics said if she insisted on writing music as men did then she should stick to writing art songs for those were sung by women and would thus be an appropriate direction for her to devote her talents.

Just listen to some of her symphonies and see if she was not capable to write symphonic music.

In the early days of jazz it was believed that women did not have the "strength, temperament, and talent to compete with the men." (Gotta love that quote!)

During the World War II era when the men were off to war someone had to carry on the music here at home.

Enter all-female swing bands.

I imagine many were speechless when the International Sweethearts of Rhythm took the stage.

(I remember an I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and her friends were trying to form a band with Desi directing. They were so bad that in the end Desi and his band (dressed in drag) played the benefit.  I wonder now if that was a reference to the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.)

Classical. Jazz.
Women have had to make their presence known in all genres of music have been.


In my life I have had some experiences that might be somewhat discriminatory.

It was not uncommon for me to hear comments about my trombone playing ability and that I was a "girl" in the same conversation.

I recall one judge at solo & ensemble contest watching me as I played through my solo.  He just stared as I played. I felt extremely nervous - more than I normally did whilst playing.

When I finished I looked up. He continued looking at me for a few more seconds then said, "That was not bad...for a girl."

I'm not sure if it was Guilmant's Morceau Symphonique or Pryor's Blue Bells of Scotland or Rimsky-Korsakov's Concerto for Trombone that year.

But he was right.

I was pretty good...for a girl.


Have you every thought about the role of women in music?

This brief discussion just barely gets thoughts started....

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