Gender, history, and southern gospel - take two

There’ve been some excellent comments to my gender and sg history post about the hall of fame and women. A few people understandably wanted to know how I’d do things differently if I ran the world, but having thought about it I’ve decided 1) I’m not nearly ambitious enough to run the world (opinions don’t always come with the energy to do more than spout off, which is what makes blogging so glorious) and 2) asking me what women should be the hall of fame who aren’t already rather begs the question, doesn’t it? What we valorize with “fame” is reflection of what and who we venerate. The question isn’t, what women are left uninducted to the Hall of Fame? but rather, should the hall of fame be about reinforcing existing values and habits (in which case “fame” means anyone who is already famous, leaving untouched the question of the standards for fame) or should the hall of fame be a catalyst for rethinking our understanding of the past and our actions in the future (in which case “fame” would mean people whoe are as well as those who should be but are not famous). Identifying the women who aren’t famous but should be in the hall of fame is a bit of a trick question, then.

Obviously I’m not naïve enough to think that the hall of fame is going to engage in any kind of visionary program of activist progressivism or (gasp) feminist history, but I also hope that instead of feeling self-satisfied that we’ve nominated all the (handful of) women of the past who have been famous, sg’s leaders and players and fame-makers look around a feel a little ashamed at this music’s legacy when it comes to gender parity and equity.

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Comments

  1. Trent wrote:

    I think the Hall of today looks nothing like the Hall of 20 years from now as far as gender equity. You have to consider the lesser role of women in gospel music in the past (overall)….it was mainly male quartets until the 1960s. Yes, there were Lily Fern & Eva Mae & Vestal (post 1960 mainly) and Mom Speer & her daughters. How many other prominent women singers/players can you name pre-1960?

    Now, look at today’s SG lineup. Do you think Sheri Easter will go into the Hall? Absolutely. How about Connie Hopper? No doubt. Kim Hopper? Yep. Also Karen Peck, Peg McKamey, Libbi Perry Stuffle, and more. Then you have young artists like Annie McRae & Lauren Talley who are on the cusp of serious consideration if they can put in a few more productive years.

  2. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    “should the hall of fame be a catalyst for rethinking our understanding of the past and our actions in the future”

    Doug,
    Your suggestion that current leaders should hang their heads in shame due to this circumstance of the past is pretty ludicrous, IMO.

    SG History was what it was. The alternative would be to pretend it was something different than reality, and who would want that (aside from some revisionist historian)? Should it spur leaders to make it any different for the future? Sure, but only in the sense of providing equal access, and that has been done already. There’s tons of mixed groups in SG now.

    On the other hand, there’s only one or two lesser known “mixed groups” in SG in terms of whites/blacks in the same group. In fact, the Imperials and the GVB are the only two major groups recognized as SG that ever had integrated membership. That’s a much larger issue than the gender issue you’ve raised, and I’ve never really understood that. At the same time, I’ve also never seen any SG leader deliberately trying to keep groups from integrating.

    What’s next? Are you going to make it a major issue about the NFL being all male? :o)

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