What do people think of positive discrimination?

The link below gives information about a new fund available in the UK to help promote the work of woman musicians. For me this is patronising in the extreme. It is akin to patting women on the head and saying "There, there - we know you're not as good as men and can't compete on a level playing field.... show more The link below gives information about a new fund available in the UK to help promote the work of woman musicians. For me this is patronising in the extreme. It is akin to patting women on the head and saying "There, there - we know you're not as good as men and can't compete on a level playing field. Therefore, we're going to make some special allowances for you and make it easier for you to get noticed away from the influence of and competition from all those nasty, superior men."

I have the same objections to ANY form of positive discrimination because of gender, religion, sexual orientation (why there have to be any gay orchestras or choirs is beyond me!) or other possible 'ghettoisation' the 'PC' brigade might decide to inflict on people.

I was once asked in a professional capacity why there weren't more works by women composers played at the Proms (the world's largest music festival, promoted by the BBC and held over two months every summer in London (http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/2010/)). My initial answer was very simple: "Because there are a lot fewer women composers than men - especially if one looks back in history." The answer came back "But don't you think we should be setting-aside a percentage of performance time in concerts for women composers?" My reply: "Even if that percentage is completely misrepresentational? Even if the music isn't very good in some cases? Isn't that a but patronising? Where do we stop? Should we have quotas for gay composers? For Jewish ones? For Muslim ones? For disabled composers as well?" "Of course not", they said "Then why do women need special help just because they are female? Femininity is neither an illness nor a disability, is it?"

My very non-PC answer (regulars here will know I have no truck whatsoever with 'PC') rendered my colleague into bemused silence.

I know that in many walks of life and in some professions, men are still dominant. Sometimes this is because of the perpetuation of discrimination. Sometimes it is simply because a job/task might be unsuitable for most women (let's not kid ourselves - men and women ARE different - that's why the human species is still here).

In music, there is very little discrimination. Outside the world of conducting (where I admit women still have to prove them selves to some), women are doing very well in music and surely need no patronising effotrs at all.

So why do we need special pockets of money put aside for women? I would, of course, be particularly interested to get the view of women contributors here.

http://www.prsformusicfoundation.com/wom...
Update: MT: I can't argue with what you say. Quotas are appalling for the same reasons as I have already expressed in my question. Artificial quotas according to race, gender, etc means that, in almost all cases, standards are compromised. They HAVE to be if we are not allowed simply to appoint the BEST PEOPLE FOR THE JOB.... show more MT: I can't argue with what you say. Quotas are appalling for the same reasons as I have already expressed in my question. Artificial quotas according to race, gender, etc means that, in almost all cases, standards are compromised. They HAVE to be if we are not allowed simply to appoint the BEST PEOPLE FOR THE JOB. The worst thing is that nearly everything person recognises this, yet doesn't rail against 'PC'.
And, of course, separation in sport is essential ("let's not kid ourselves - men and women ARE different").
Update 2: Petr: Call it what you will: "favouritism", "positive discrimination" (I'm not usually one to adopt 'management' speak', but the phrase 'positive discrimination' does seem to do the job quite well, although I see what you mean), it's all the same nasty stuff dressed in slightly different ways. I'd still like to... show more Petr: Call it what you will: "favouritism", "positive discrimination" (I'm not usually one to adopt 'management' speak', but the phrase 'positive discrimination' does seem to do the job quite well, although I see what you mean), it's all the same nasty stuff dressed in slightly different ways.

I'd still like to see more female perspectives on this.
Update 3: Wayne: 'being in the right place at the right time' and 'it's not what you know, but WHO you know' always have been, remain, and always will be, I suspect, constants in our world. These truths don't seem to discriminate unduly.
Update 4: suhwahaksaeng: You have brought-up an interesting point that white, 'westerners' don't have the monopoly on rascism and prejudice (although some would try to have us believe that WAS the case).
Update 5: Actually, 'reverse discrimination' is a better term, as there's nothing 'positive' about it in my opinion. Oy vey - I have just favoured an American term over a Brit one. Whatever next?
Update 6: Malcolm: The bulk of the PRS Foundation for Music's money is generated through revenue from collecting rights returns for composers, publishers and performers. It is an independent body, true enough, but a very influential one in the UK - particularly in the world of promoting and supporting music by living British... show more Malcolm: The bulk of the PRS Foundation for Music's money is generated through revenue from collecting rights returns for composers, publishers and performers. It is an independent body, true enough, but a very influential one in the UK - particularly in the world of promoting and supporting music by living British composers. This I applaud (as you won't be surprised to learn). I have to question the wisdom of this fund and have drafted a letter to the PRSF asking when we can expect the announcement of the 'Men Make Music' initiative.
Update 7: drakolan: Your post reminds me of a time when there was a 'European Women's Orchestra' based in London, comprising only female musicians (completely pointless in London where more than half of the best, most successful freelance musicians are female!) and only playing the work of 'women composers'. I pointed-out to... show more drakolan: Your post reminds me of a time when there was a 'European Women's Orchestra' based in London, comprising only female musicians (completely pointless in London where more than half of the best, most successful freelance musicians are female!) and only playing the work of 'women composers'. I pointed-out to the director of this orchestra that women musicians didn't need this gesture (in fact, many female musicians didn't WANT to play in it) and, that by marginalising the music of of women composers in this way, all one would do would be to play to the same small 'ghetto' of women listeners time after time; it would do no service whatsoever to the cause of bringing the work of female composers to a wider public. Within a month the director had disbanded the orchestra.
8 answers 8