Home > Uncategorized > How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Emoticon

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Emoticon

One of my favorite stories to tell about the music biz has very little to do with the hedonism, entitlement or cluster-fuckery often stereotyped in popular culture – although, I suppose, T&A is tangentially involved. MY T&A.

The story is actually a very mundane reminder of the always-constant rose-colored light thrown over my interactions in the industry. You see, I have a vagina. I’m what some (myself included) would at various times refer to as a “girl,” a “chick,” a “woman,” and, you know, a “bitch.” I am all of those things every now and then, and lots of other things, too. But from a very early age, I realized there was a certain freedom that came with at least an outward appearance of selective androgyny. In second grade, during attendance on the first day, I proudly informed my teach that I would no longer be known as Kristen – or, sigh, Krissy Jo – but Kris. Short, perfunctory even, and definitely a boy’s name, especially in 1980s Texas. I’m not sure I even told my parents – I don’t think my mother found out until my annual parent/teacher conference.

I was a tomboy growing up. I preferred overalls nine times out of 10, and failed to find a commensurate joy for pink ruffles as I did for my OshKosh B’Gosh. Don’t get me wrong – I played my fair share of dress up, finally gave in to short skirts and makeup as I got older, but I always held on to that independent streak being a tomboy afforded me. I’ve always been “one of the boys,” always friends with guys, save a few really close and absolutely amazing girlfriends. And when I started working in the music industry, I quickly realized my first name afforded me an initial advantage, particularly when communicating over email: people didn’t realize I was a woman.

At one point, I even started signing everything “k.norv” – partly because one of the bands I worked with had another “Kris-with-a-K” and emails were confusing, partly because I recognized the ambiguity it afforded me. To be honest, there was never a huge advantage to this, short of maybe getting me a few more replies than I might have (there’s a knee-jerk “their manager is a girl? who is she sleeping with?” reaction that can make cold-calls a tad infuriating sometimes), but I did enjoy the “bad ass rock chick” vibe it implied. I even started wearing more masculine clothing to match the image: narrow-cut t-shirts, skinny black jeans, black leather jacket, no pink, no cleavage, no ruffles, maybe the occasional flash of leg (I’ve got nice ones, sue me).

And then one day at work (boutique music management company), I got ripped a new one because my tone was inappropriate in an email. I freely admit, it wasn’t a pleasant email, nor should it have been: the co-manager was delinquent in getting signed documents back to us, and we all stood to lose a nice chunk of change. It was an email sent at the direction of my boss – the very one who refused to back me up when the email recipient took offense to my tone.

Now here’s where it gets interesting: I’d been writing the emails for one of my co-workers for a few days while he was on the road. He didn’t have WiFi, and we were essentially trying to keep chain-of-command for certain projects in tact while he was away. Bottom line: “his” tone in those emails was never questioned, many of them dealing with the same issue I was taking a stab at when I sent the apparently offensive email from my own account.

So what did I do? I got really pissed off, actually. And then I decided, to be a bitch, that I would continue to write my emails the way I had been, and throw in a few happy faces, unnecessary exclamation marks and the like. I sat there thinking “I am a snarky bitch!” and mentally high-fiving myself for being more-or-less an immature high schooler. Nyah-Nyah-Boo-Boo. Phhwsthp.

And then of course, it worked. You saw that coming didn’t you? I sadly didn’t. I’m usually quite smart, swears! And a few months later, when a production team I was working with had the same complaint, it worked again. My wording and tone never changed. I literally write my emails, and then go back and add 😉 and !! and HA! all over the damn place.

Of course,  by “playing the game,” I’m just allowing it to perpetuate. And this isn’t an “across-the-board” thing in the industry, either, so I’m not claiming wise-spread misogyny. But I’m hoping that my behavior once I get in the door helps convince some that chicks can be taken seriously. Even if they wear pink and have a name like Krissy Jo.


And now for something completely unrelated:

Ooh Ooh!! I like this band, but just a little bit right now. Might have to see them at Bowery Ballroom in June to really give them a fair shake…

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