We've long suspected that Christina Rees was "the enemy within," but it wasn't until Neva Chonin, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, took Rees to task for her essay on women musicians ("Girl trouble," September 30) that we had proof. Only after reading Chonin's shoddy diatribe about Rees' piece -- you know, the one that "eviscerates women musicians for everything from their choice in instruments to the way they walk" -- did we fully understand just how damaging it's been working with her for the past two years. We had guessed that Christina was inhibiting "ornerier male elements" such as ourselves from changing the way we think by always being there to back us up with some chauvinistic comment, but we had no idea how much harm she'd done. Thank you, Neva, for finally pointing that out to us. We're so relieved.
Actually, we can't thank Chonin enough for writing such a short-sighted rebuttal to Rees' essay ("Trashing Women Rockers," which is available for your perusal at www.sfchronicle.com). It only made us like the original so much more. Sure, we don't agree with everything Rees said -- we happen to like Sleater-Kinney, among other things -- but still, Chonin's biggest problem with the article seems to be that she didn't write it first. Much of her critique of Rees' article (most of which appears in the Chronicle) boils down to, "Well, that's true, but I would have said it in a different way." And seriously, when you're defending the chick-bass-player stereotype on the grounds that picking what is traditionally thought of as the easiest instrument to play is "what rock 'n' roll is all about," you're not adding much to the discussion. Which pretty much sums up Chonin's article.
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If you don't have the time or access to check out the rest of Chonin's thoughts, we'll give you a quick overview: Christina Rees is wrong because...she's a woman. How dare she let down her gender? It would have saved us at least five minutes if Chonin had just skipped to the point, or at least come up with one. It's not that Rees didn't warrant some criticism with her piece; her attack on Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and Kathleen Hanna virtually assured that page 3 of the Dallas Observer would be filled with anti-Rees sentiment for weeks. We were just hoping that someone would be able to come up with an intelligent counterpoint to Rees' point. Guess we'll have to keep waiting until the rumored dissection of Rees' essay that we've been told will appear in an upcoming issue of Spin. Maybe we should tell Christina to hold off on her next story until then. The topic: why women can't write.