Tuesday, June 03, 2008

That’s why I love being a girl

I was listening to WUSF this morning, because I’m an NPR junkie. Carson Cooper was doing the toss to Russell Gant to go from Morning Edition to the classical programming. They began to talk about the world famous composer Marin Alsop who recently became the first woman to conduct at La Scala in Milan.

Marin Alsop referred to the honor in her blog, “The first woman thing does get a bit old - it seems like such a ridiculous reason to garner attention - but I must confess that my experience at La Scala was truly thrilling.”

Lately I’ve noticed that the first woman thing is getting a bit old for me too – and I’m a woman. As a woman, born in the 70’s at the height of the women’s liberation movement, I wore teeny tiny shirts that promoted ERA. I had a sign in my room (that still hangs in my office) that read, “Girls Can Do Anything!” I was the only girl on my soccer team growing up, I was the only girl climbing trees growing up, and I was the only girl in many of the sketch comedy groups and improvisation troupes I have been a part of over the years. I was never upset at the boys that I was the only girl. I was upset with the girls for not joining me.

My life in sketch comedy and improvisation often came with the back-handed compliment, “You are really funny – for a girl.” I walk in the shadow of extraordinary comedians who happen to be women – Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Elaine May, Gilda Radner, Rosanne, Catherine O’Hara, Ellen DeGeneres, Tina Fey and the list goes on. Is this still an issue? Really? Oh, I’m so bored ...

So the first woman conducted in La Scala – well it opened it 1778 so that didn’t take very long. The next president could be a woman – whatever – just decide already. And the list goes on. I say its time for this female designation nonsense to stop. Yes Augusta – I’m looking at you – I’d like to golf without a male chaperone – thank you very much.

Congratulations Marin Alsop for conducting in La Scala. Not because you have two X chromosomes, not because you might or might not have gotten excited that the Sex in the City movie finally came out, but because you got to stand in front of an orchestra in a great and storied hall. You got to manipulate and produce sounds in an opera house that has heard some of the greatest music and witnessed the greatest musical minds the world will ever know. And you, Marin Alsop are one of them. That is all that needs to be acknowledged.

-Kari G.


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