Because liberals appear to have a psychological imperative to pursue social causes, it’s very rare that they will admit that a social problem has been solved. People have an innate need to feel virtuous, and when your concept of virtue is tied not to personal achievement and decency but to perfecting the world, it’s hard to ever feel satisfied.
And yet, sometimes things do improve. When it comes to feminism, which I define as treating women equally to men while not subtracting the special qualities that make women feminine, there is one area where we have achieved a wonderful, nearly platonic parity. It’s the field of jazz.
Jazz is not a very popular form of music these days. It doesn’t generate clicks on the feminist website Jezebel or the high ratings on the morning shows or Oprah. It doesn’t aim to foster the kind of aggrieved resentment that fuels social justice warriors. It just offers artists who are judged solely on their merits. Many of the best jazz musicians are women, and many of them are creating brilliant music. Furthermore, they create without having to resort to shedding clothing or causing public scandal to get attention.
Reading the May issue of Down Beat, the oldest and best jazz magazine in America, one can find profiles of several gifted female artists. I say “profiled” rather than “celebrated” or “venerated” because this is what true equality should look like—the women are not valorized for simply being women (even though as an old-school dude I will always think there is something magical about the female spirit), but reported on and reviewed as musicians. Unlike many of their rap and pop counterparts, they have earned respect by not degrading themselves.
In the new Down Beat there’s a long story about Allison Miller, a phenomenal drummer and the bandleader of the group Boom Tic Boom. Given four stars in the record review section is bassist Esperanza Spalding: “Esperanza Spalding’s biggest gift has always been the joy with which she approaches music. Watching her play and sing is like watching Steph Curry take the ball at mid-court; one gets the impression that there’s nothing she can’t accomplish.” Also getting four stars are new records by singers Jane Monheit and Deborah Shulman. There’s also an ad for the amazing new vocalist Camille Bertault, who does a dazzling version of “vocalese,” transcribing jazz solos into lyrics.
Last year, a twenty-five-year-old Norwegian saxophonist named Mette Henriette released a self-titled double album of jazz and experimental music. It’s one of the most challenging, sophisticated, and beautiful albums I’ve heard in months. Henriette hasn’t been booked on Jimmy Fallon’s show. Or Stephen Colbert’s. Or Ellen’s. Because Taylor Swift may have tweeted something about Nicki Minaj—or was it Selena Gomez?—to Miley Cyrus, and that has to go to the top of the page. Also, be sure to defend the really sleazy pop stars for the “empowerment” of “embracing their sexuality.”
Addicted to virtue signaling, academics, celebrities, and journalists call for the equal and dignified treatment of women, all the while promoting talentless pop performers who boost ratings while setting women back. The loudest “feminist” voices, ironically, are the very ones ignoring the superior female talent that’s right in front of them.