“Talent Never Needs a Qualifier” (Thank You, Sarah Jones)

Closeup profile picture of Sarah Jones with blond hair and a smile

What’s wrong with feminism? And, more importantly, what’s the rational alternative to feminism?

For one perspective check out these astute words from Sarah Jones, the editor of Electronic Musician:

People often ask me why “Electronic Musician” doesn’t publish a “Women in Music” issue. While we strive for diversity in our content, we prefer to profile people who have earned success on their own merit, not just because they fall into a certain category.

Chances are that these words alone will make any self-described feminist very, very upset and angry. Why? Most likely, because they cut right into the heart of the victim mentality. The victim mentality — in the context of feminism — holds that just because you are a woman, you are automatically a victim; and that merely by virtue of being a man, you are almost automatically a victimizer. (If you agree with feminism on this point, and you are a man, you get some sort of special dispensation — although you are still a man.)

In two concise sentences, Sarah Jones wipes out the victim mentality altogether with these two simple words: “own merit.” The moment you introduce these concepts — “own” and “merit” — you’re implying two things. One, there are objective standards which describe merit; and two, your choices and individual potentialities will determine whether you live up to those standards, or not. Objective standards rule — and not your biological gender.

Jones goes on: Gender is only an issue for people who make it an issue. Certainly, there’s an imbalance in the studio world, but we see this disparity in every technical field, and it can generally be traced back to early education, where girls are not always encouraged to explore math and science. [Source: Insight: People Who Rock, “Electronic Musician” Sarah Jones, Editor, p. 10, August 2014]

Jones correctly implies that ideas — such as ideas influencing the education world — do have an impact, and ideas or attitudes can be unfair, irrational or mistaken. However, the victim mentality of feminism is not the answer. The only thing that could save authentically victimized women — or authentically victimized anyone — would be the replacement of mistaken ideas (e.g., “No woman can be technical”) with a rational idea (e.g., “Anyone who displays the ability to be technical is capable.”)

Jones continues: And while segmentation may work to empower, say, girls in grade school, it does everyone a disservice to praise people solely (read: conditionally) based on their gender, race, or age.

If it’s racism, sexism or any other irrational “ism” you wish to fight, you cannot successfully defeat it by wiping out rational standards. You don’t do any woman a favor by telling her, “Men have screwed over women in this context; so now it’s women’s turn to take their place in the sun.” You don’t correct the previous wrongdoing of evading rational standards by dissolving rational standards altogether as automatically prejudiced, and therefore automatically wrong. As Jones says at the end of her short commentary, “Let’s agree to stop using unnecessary labels and focus on talent, which never needs a qualifier.”

How right she is. Talent does not need a qualifier. We should stop focusing on numbers and start focusing on the actual and objective quality of any individual’s effort, performance or labor in any context. Focusing on numbers means asking things like, “Are there equal numbers of men and women in any particular field?” Instead, we should focus on (1) what “good work” in some field consists of, and (2) is the particular individual doing it (man or woman) living up to that objective standard?

The awful thing about today is that many of us think we are enlightened and assume we are rational merely because we have questioned or rejected past unfair standards. But the “standards” we have replaced them with are no standards at all. In fact, we tend to lie to ourselves and others about simple facts because we’re all so frightened of being called sexist, racist, or whatever the latest victimology intimidation catch-phrase is. Feminists will automatically condemn any man who suggests this as a sexist, and any woman — like Sarah Jones of Electronic Musician, presumably — who suggests it as some kind of heretic.

But the truth is the truth.  Intimidation and label-threatening will never overpower the truth, not in substance and not in fact. Sooner or later, even angry victimologists (feminists, and others) will have to adapt to facts and logic.


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