Gearslutz founder Julian Standen has had a revelation: the name of his website might be a bit dated and perhaps it’s time for a change. The move comes in response to an online petition urging Julian to remove the reference to “slut” in the title of his widely read forum.
What’s in a name?
After mounting pressure spearheaded by an online petition with nearly 5,000 signatures Julian Standen posted on his jauntily named forum:
We recognise and agree that the word-play pun in the name has gotten old and it is now time to move forwards.
It’s a welcome change of attitude from what he said just the other day when he had no intention of changing the name and explained that it’s all good innocent fun based on playing with the idea of being a slave to the acquisition of gear and back in 2003 no one batted an eyelid, or at least no one that they cared about. They were simpler times when educators and places of work didn’t mind accessing using web addresses with sexual slurs in them. The conversation never really included women because it wasn’t about women, it was just good old lad-culture harmless fun.
The name wasn’t a great idea then and it still isn’t now.
In a video posted on the Gearslutz forum Julian explains why they feel it’s time to change the name and highlights exactly what the problems have always been with it. He’s not an idiot or blind to the issues and seems like a really nice chap and of course no one believes or is suggesting that he meant any harm or disrespect to anyone. Good job mate.
What really gets my goat is that we had this conversation a couple of years ago in the momentum of the #MeToo movement that was tackling sexism in many arenas. Music Technology is one area that desperately needs to take a long hard look at itself for the gender imbalance and why while there’s plenty of women working in the industry a far smaller percentage engage in the online communities such as Gearslutz. Women spoke out at the time about the exact same issues Julian highlighted in his video but nothing happened. Instead, ranks were closed and problems dismissed as political correctness “gone mad”. Nothing was done. It took a petition of forum members’ peers to make them consider the possibility that they might be on the wrong side of this issue and that in itself is a perfect picture of the institutional sexism inherent in these sorts of forums.
The petition was started only a week ago by “Cam Ran” and has garnered 4,952 signatures (at the time of writing).
It’s worth reading her full post on Change.org because it highlights why this is so important. Here’s a little bit for you:
While there has been much progress in the gear community and audio world for women, we still exist in a time where every woman I know who works in audio has been asked which band member she’s dating when she’s loading in gear. Every woman I know has been called a slut in a derogatory manner. Every woman I know who works in a male dominated field has felt objectified and patronized. And not every woman is offended by this name, but enough people are that it’s a frequent and recurring topic.
It might not seem like a big deal, and people will likely say that we should focus our energies on bigger issues of equality, but we can do both. We can talk about the things in our community that make us uncomfortable, starting with this website created by men, who have never been called “slut” in a hateful and derogatory way. Who have never had to prove their merit in their field simply because of their gender. Who have never had someone assume that their level of success was due to the fact that they slept with the right person.
It just goes to prove that petitions can work!
However, regardless of how we got here, we are here now and that’s awesome! The change should be celebrated but Gearslutz and Julian shouldn’t feel anything other than shame that it’s taken them so long to do something so easy that would instantly improve the online music tech environment.
Is it worth it?
Gearslutz (I hope that’s the last time I use that name) is a great resource with forums covering all angles of music production and gear where every question imaginable has already been asked and discussed. It holds a lot of knowledge and many experienced people offer invaluable advice in the discussions. It also has a prevailing “lad culture” that still needs a lot of work and a name change is not going to elevate the discourse overnight, but it’s a start.
Apparently, there’s some work to do in order to make the changes but a new name should be coming along very soon. You can already change the logo on the site to something less offensive via a drop-down box. The URL will take longer and they expect that to done by the summer.
Right, what’s next? I’m looking at you MuffWiggler.com