As I was setting up my gear to practice last night, I realized I was one quarter inch cable short. I figured I must have left it at a venue or lent it to a friend but either way, I needed to get a new one. Flash forward to today, post yoga class, on my quick run to Guitar Center on a completely banal mission to get the most ordinary of cables. Things got off to bad start when it took 3 guys to understand my simple request. The exchanges went like this.
Me: Hi! I was wondering where your quarter inch monster cables are.
Dude #1: Quarter inch? Like on both ends? Like for an instrument?
Dude #1: Like for a guitar?
Me: Yes, it could be used for a guitar. I am using it for my keyboard.
Dude #1: OH ok, go talk to Pro Audio over there.
I head over to Pro Audio, assuming that Dude #1 is just a door person or for some reason, cannot grasp the idea of using a quarter inch cable for anything but a guitar despite working in a music store. I approach Dude #2, who greeted me in Pro Audio.
Me: Hey! So, I am just looking to get a quarter inch monster cable.
Dude #2: Oh, like for an instrument?
Me (starting to sense a theme here): Yes, for a keyboard. Quarter inch to quarter inch.
Dude #2: So you want to connect it to something?
Me: I just need a monster cable that has a quarter inch on both sides.
Dude #2 to Dude #3: Hey, can you get this girl a quarter inch monster cable?
Dude #3 (to me): Is it for an instrument?
At this point, all of the mellowness I had acquired from yoga was wearing off. I realized I was so hungry I wanted to eat my own shoe. The sheer incompetence of these three people was mind boggling but I needed my cable so I persevered. I wondered “why are they questioning my use of one of the most common audio cables ever? do they doubt that I know what such a cable is for?” Dude #3 guided me to the wall of monster cables and with a sigh of relief, I picked out the quarter inch cable I needed and proceeded to check out.
Dude #4 at check out: So, you play music?
Me (exasperated at this point): Yes, I do. I should start labeling my cables so I don’t have to get new ones. I must have misplaced one of them.
Dude #4: Maybe you should label it with pink tape so no one would want it.
Me: (silent death glare)
Dude #4: Or hey, if you label it with pink, I guess all the girls would want it.
Me: (escalating death glare with unconscious pouting in attempt to not strangle the human with the new cable)
Me: (deep breath) I will label my cables with any color I want, blue if I fancy, and I will put my name on them so that people will know they are mine not to take them. I have my own band and am in several other bands, including one with 10 guys, so I would just prefer knowing which cables belong to me.
Dude #4: Oh cool, you play with lots of people? So when you’re playing…
I stopped listening at some point and recall telling him I played keyboards and omnichord and sang but really my goal was to get out of there before I went bananas. I had already made my point, that the color of label was irrelevant and I was too annoyed to want to talk to him or any other of the half-wits I’d already encountered.
I immediately starting talking to a good ( and incidentally male) friend of mine to untangle why I was so upset, and my reasons are thus:
1. Buying an audio cable should not be about gender. I can’t imagine multiple people questioning a man walking into Guitar Center asking for a very common cable about how he was going to use it. By the end of my visit, my answer would have been “to strangle all of you in one 20 foot swoop.”
2. Much like purchasing an audio cable, labeling an audio cable should not be about gender either. Why assume that I like pink? Why assume that men in my bands wouldn’t like pink? Why assume it would be BAD if they did? Why assume that some other random female would want my cable because it had a pink label on it? All of these assumptions hurt people and force them to conform to whatever definition we have of who can like pink for fear of being ashamed. Much as I don’t want a random person to just assume I like pink because I am a female, I don’t want any person, male, female, or anywhere on the gender spectrum to think it’s wrong for THEM to like pink.
3. Being ignorant to one’s own sexism is harmful to everyone, including you, Guitar Center Dude #4. Your comments made me feel horrible, which I am pretty sure was not your intention. You were just doing your business, selling your wares and making conversation. However, now you’ve got a whole blog post written about your accidentally sexist ass. I did correct you by pointing out that color coding cables by gender is pointless and I did so with as little anger as possible because no one listens to an angry feminist, oh no, they want you to be calm and educate the world. I wish I’d had the wherewithal to explain to you why cables don’t need to be gendered and why it’s wrong to assume that anyone should like or not like a certain color based on their gender, but I was tired and sweaty and hungry. I hate living in a world where I am expected to be calm after someone has made the aforementioned erroneous assumptions about me and just about everyone in the binary gender system, a world where women are seen as the unwanted alternative (“ew! pink cables!”) and men are afraid to be anything other than disdainful of things associated with women as if liking them would somehow threaten their very self.
So there you have it. I want to live in a world where I can buy an audio cable without it being gendered. I want to live in a world where anyone can like (or not like) any color they wish because it’s pleasing to them, not because they are a certain gender. I want to live in a world where people realize it’s stupid to draw a line between masculine and feminine and make us all gather to one side or the other lest something terrible befall us. Most of all, I just want to use my new cable to daisy chain my keyboard to my electro-harmonix holy grail to my helicon voice live two and back out of my amplifier so I can make music RIGHT NOW.