PJ Harvey has silently pointed out a review of her Perth show drenched in gender stereotypes and the general feeling that women need to prove themselves worthy of inclusion in the gang of their male counterparts.
The review was posted on Harvey’s Facebook page with no comment from Harvey (or whoever in her camp had posted it), although it has attracted 81 comments (at the time of writing). PJ’s fans are almost exclusively outraged at the review which recounts the story of how reviewer Ian Church met a fellow “male” while waiting to go in where they discussed “how although we as men are not massive fans, we both have great respect for her and her song writing.”
It’s okay though, if you have a penis and you’re worried about feeling like less of a man for attending a PJ Harvey gig or even owning one of her albums, Church reminds us that “this lass can hold her own with the boys,” pointing to collaborations with Queens of the Stoneage leader Josh Homme and Screaming Trees/QOTSA member Mark Lanegan as evidence.
Harvey’s Facebook doesn’t regularly take to posting gig reviews so this sole post is telling and her wordless approach to giving it to her fans is deafening.
A quick search of Church’s name in Google informs us that he “is an audio engineer and produces the promos that you hear on ABC Radio in Western Australia. Ian has mixed all the stories you see in Picture This and has also recorded a few of the stories as well.” His qualifications relevant to relaying a PJ Harvey performance to his audience are unclear.
There have been more aimless reviews, struggling to make a point about the actual music – I’m probably guilty of writing some of them myself in my younger days – but it’s hard to remain silent when a review so strongly reinforces Australia’s reputation as a conservative country so stubbornly refusing to move past the sexist norms of the past. At least this time it hasn’t gone unnoticed. While Church’s review was probably “accidentally” sexist, it doesn’t excuse it. This review isn’t just offensive to women, it’s offensive to everyone.
Read it here.
UPDATE: ABC have updated the review toning down the blatant sexism in the beginning of the article and adding this indirect disclaimer at the end:
“Perth Arts welcomes audience reviews. For all information on how you can submit a review of an event go to the Perth Arts site. Reviews are the opinion of the reviewer and may be edited by the ABC.”
It’s unclear what is meant by “audience review”, but as we pointed out earlier, Ian Church is on staff at the ABC and it is not the first review he has written. He also was sent along to review Gary Numan on the 17th of May, 2011. The “audience review” disclaimer does not appear at the end of that article.
Follow the author Tim Cashmere on Twitter.