The Problem with Dude Rock Interviewers & Learning to Not Apologize

Yesterday morning I spent an hour of my time listening to a Grantland podcast. These are the kinds of words I would never expect to say about myself. First, I am not a podcast listener (though Serial did suck me in). And Grantland? Blech.

But my interest in Lydia Loveless is greater than my distaste for Grantland, and so there I was listening to Brian Koppelman interview Lydia Loveless. It is a good interview even if I was intermittently filled with great unease bordering on anger.

Lydia is really very smart and super charming. Plus she talks about Raymond Carver and Paul Westerberg, so I was pretty much ready to invite her over for a slumber party where we would listen to “Suicaine Gratifaction” and talk about “Cathedral.” And, best of all, she does a really beautiful, acoustic version of “Head” at the end of the podcast, which was worth wading through the mansplaining and dude rock interviewer bullshit.

The mansplaining happens pretty early on and was just about enough to make me turn the shit off. At one point Loveless talks about how she loved Billy Idol as a kid and Koppelman then spend a few minutes justifying to her why it’s totally okay that she loved Billy Idol because he worked with some amazing guitarist. Apparently Loveless needed her love for Idol justified by this guy?

As soon as I finished listening I asked my friend Ted, who is Lydia’s #1 fan and who introduced me to her music, if she had ever been interviewed by a woman. He could only remember one, a video thing, from a college-aged woman from a long time ago.

Of course.

And I asked because while the interview is really good, it was off because Koppelman is a man who moves about in a world where he doesn’t have to do or think about the things Lydia, as a woman, and a young woman (she’s 24) in music has to think about.

Within fiveish minutes of the podcast he says, “Why do you feel the need, um, why are you trying to protect yourself from like, you don’t need to apologize for saying whatever you think.”

It becomes a recurring theme throughout the episode with Lydia apologizing and him telling her to stop. At one point, toward the end after he tells her again to stop apologizing and claims it will get easier for her if she stops, and she says, “It is a really unattractive trait in me to be apologetic. . .”

And that’s when I lost it.

Last week, I had good Twitter chat with Rebecca Schinsky about apologies and saying no. She said she was working on saying no without giving unwarranted and needless explanations for her decision. I said I needed to work on that too now that I had stopped apologizing. We kind of agreed to trade resolutions, for lack of a better word.

The thing is that she got it. When I said I had stopped apologizing she didn’t ask for what or why, she totally got it. Most women get that, especially the smart, sassy, opinionated ones. We are taught to apologize all the time for our strong opinions, to soften the blow of our intellect lest we get called “abrasive” in our performance reviews (something that happened to me most every time I was reviewed at work by a man). And if I had a dollar for every time I had given a candid, strong opinion on something and then had some man laughed condescendingly and say, “now tell us what you really think, Jodi” I wouldn’t be so fucking broke all the time.

So yeah, when Koppelman told Loveless to stop apologizing I saw red. While I admire that he’s trying to be warm and inviting, it still reeks of condescension, and more than that utter clueless about the consequences of being a woman who speaks her mind. Of course she apologizes, even if she’s not sorry, because it’s just easier to say sorry sometimes than deal with what comes next.

Later in the podcast he asks her why she calls herself a bitch, because she’s not bitchy. And again, I was thinking “are you fucking kidding me?” I wasn’t entirely sure that Koppelman and I were from the same planet. She calls herself a bitch for the same reason she apologizes, because it makes thinks easier. And I would be really curious to hear what Koppelman’s definition of “bitch” is, because as far as I know a bitch is a woman with an opinion and Loveless is a bitch. So am I. So are most of the women I know and love.

Still later in the podcast he compares her to Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Jason Isbell*, and kind of hints at the double-standard in the way she’s talked about as compared to those men, but he never even seems to notice that the list is filled with men and not a single fucking woman and that’s part of the goddamn problem.

Ugh. I’m not sorry. I’ve made it one of my resolutions in 2015 to talk more about music because I’m just so goddamned tired of men writing the story of rock & roll. So tired.

Anyway, you should still listen to the podcast even if you fast forward to the very end just to hear that acoustic version of “Head.”

*I just want to say that a Jason Isbell/Lydia Loveless tour is my ultimate dream.

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