Just as it is generally assumed that professionalism represents a status and identity to be aspired to, especially by the middle class, so most practitioners of Western music history assume that composers view publication as a universally desirable goal. But given the fact that women historically have had fewer pieces published than men, we might start to wonder about the assumptions behind that statement. Why has it been assumed desirable to publish? Why does a composer publish music? Might there be reasons why a composer might not wish to publish? What are the larger implications of such a choice? Are women problematized through ideological conflicts arising from publication?
– Marcia J. Citron: Gender and the Musical Canon (1993), p. 108.
Reading on in the chapter, I find that Citron makes the common analogy between creating works of art and raising children, and that she assumes only mothers, not fathers, can feel insecure and concerned about sending their ”babies” out in the big bad world, and thus are more naturally controlling personalities, reluctant to show their efforts to anybody outside their circle of family and friends — people the artist/writer/composer knows and can trust — since ”women may feel more comfortable conceiving a work for a knowable context” (p.111). Publication is like sending your children out in the unknown, it is also in part like the loss of a family member, the grown child who moves out of the house to live on his own; a ”loss of control that engenders anxiety” (p.112). This possible anxiety of separation Citron says can be a problem both to male and female composers, but she suspects the ”social conditioning” (conditions?) make it easier for a man to let a work of his enter the public’s consciousness, as that is expected and encouraged practice in the world of professionalism, where his activities are supposed to belong.
Maybe we can conclude that at least in the past, women may have been both discouraged from and genuinely uninterested in sharing information about their personal, intellectual, artistical, practical and spiritual experiences with the whole wide world — today, that equals the www, or internet.
I played my first composition for an audience of mostly unknown people when I was seven or eight years old. I sent my first book manuscript to big publishing companies when I was eleven. I published stories and opinions in a school paper I was editor for when I was 13. I have never held the view that my work is only for my near and dear to enjoy, or felt that the risk of attracting ridicule and critique from perfect strangers could make the enterprise of performance or publishing less appealing.