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    Fifty Men, Off the Top of My Head

    A couple of weeks ago, the internet lit up with a story about how the VEEP won't dine alone with a woman who isn't his wife. He cited some set of religion-based values to justify the arrangement. While that sort of thing might hold water in some (rather extreme) faiths, his words seemed an awful lot like misogyny hiding behind the idea of God. And really: what a luxury! To choose the gender of your company and not have it impact your professional standing at all? Must be nice, dude. Must be rad as hell.

    As a woman in the arts, I'm afforded no such luxury. I have broken bread with, traveled with, shared bedrooms with, collaborated with, and conspired with all kinds of men—all without the watchful eye of my husband. For, my husband is not my keeper. He's a guy I live with and make stuff with. In other words, he's my equal. I found the vice president's words so outrageous that I took it as an opportunity to jot down the names of the first fifty men I could think of, all of whom I've eaten with or spent extended periods of time around, no spouses anywhere. My creative and professional path would have been vastly different without many of these interactions. They are, in no order whatsoever:

    1. Axl Rose

    2. Sebastian Bach

    3. Robin Finck

    4. Gene Simmons

    5. Mario Quintero

    6. Jabe Beyer

    7. Brett Rosenberg

    8. Gary Paczosa

    9. Steve Buckingham

    10. Matt Squire

    11. Andy Falco

    12. Mike Pereira

    13. Levi Fuller

    14. Ian MacKaye

    15. Chuck Treece

    16. Doug Sax

    17. Kyle Mann

    18. Alex Hartman

    19. Eric McConnell

    20. Jared Everett

    21. Jace Everett

    22. Nate Edgar

    23. Grant Hart

    24. Dave Walsh

    25. Dave Hause

    26. Dagan Barrett

    27. Carl Jackson

    28. Bradley Walker

    29. J. Robbins

    30. Paul Kolderie

    31. Dan MacKenzie

    32. Dan Haggard

    33. Thadd LaRue

    34. Ted Leo

    35. Reeves Gabrels

    36. Josh Bennett

    37. David Mayfield

    38. Willy Cardin

    39. Graham Mote

    40. Gregg Roth

    41. Bryan Sheffield

    42. Sal Mancini

    43. Mike Perrotti

    44. Chad Riter

    45. Dave Roe

    46. Zach Barocas

    47. Rodney Crowell

    48. Jason Finkel

    49. Josh Fuson

    50. Seth Bodie


    And while I'm here, I'd love to address another thing: I existed before I was married. I existed as a human being, as a musician, as a professional, and as a thinker. I experience a good bit of subtle sexism, from men and women alike. I get a lot of people crediting my husband for things I do—and have done for years. I made a quick list of things I did before I even met my partner, in case it needs to be cleared up.

    1. I started a record label. Trimming The Shield Records was and is mine, not ours. I founded it in 2002 and it's still a integral part of my musical output.

    2. I played in rock bands. I'm not cutting my rock teeth with "Jerry's heavy music," guys. Sorry. I started my first rock band years and years ago. It was called 33 Slade. Check it out.

    3. I entered into a collaboration for which I have two Grammys. True story.

    4. I bought a house. This house that we currently live and make records in? I bought it before I even knew who my partner was.

    5. I moved across the country alone. Twice.

    6. I was on a TV show about fashion for an entire season.

    7. I won that show. It was a competition.

    8. I wrote roughly one-hundred and fifty songs. Just like I'm not cutting my rock teeth in Friendship Commanders, I'm also not coming into my song writing. It's been a while.

    9. I had an entire other career as a clothing designer for individuals of note.

    10. I wrote and produced a rock opera called Audio and Visual.

    11. I ran a half marathon.

    12. I produced records.

    13. I traveled to Europe three times and studied art history in Italy.

    14. I took risks that resulted in numerous failures and victories.

    15. I had an individual identity. Still do.

    Let's not allow the sexist attitudes of the temporarily powerful to trickle down and set us back. Let's not return to a time when women were seen as extensions of their male counterparts. Let's not be quietly disrespectful and loudly out of balance. And let's not—even for one second—allow religion to be cited as a reason for any of the above. You're not in church; you're in the world. And women are part of your world. ALYK.