When the #metoo debate re-emerged in Finnish music a couple of years ago, the reaction in my professional bubble was twofold. A joyous “Finally!” was as common and as well justified as a cynical “Here we go again”.
The dialogue of this upheaval was utterly predictable to anyone who had paid any attention to the research and debate on equality and diversity. A famous conductor mansplained that the canon of Western art music is not discriminatory, because it is the quality of the music that is relevant rather than gender or cultural background. Less famous but more perceptive scholars responded that the very idea of focusing the debate on the ‘quality of music’ was conducive to upholding structures that shun diversity.
The media took the ball and ran with it by highlighting harassment scandals and by presenting portraits of bold advocates of equality but never stopped to analyse their own discourses.
Now that the dust has had a couple of years to settle, we can dare to say that this time the #metoo moment in Finnish music went beyond mere activism. It actually changed a lot, because it found resonance in the megatrends of inclusivity and equality. Both musicians and scholars now have a broad range of interest in composers and themes that promote the cause of diversity. Studies have made various covert forms of discrimination visible, and the operating environment has been rendered safer. Indigenous minority cultures in Finland have been allowed a voice in the mainstream on their own terms, without exoticism.
These trends extend to this Special Feature, whose topic is diversity, understood in a very broad sense. I cannot say whether we should respond to this with “Finally!” or “Here we go again”, nor do I know whether FMQ has analysed its own discourses sufficiently, but what I do know is that the media can only progress one story at a time, gradually and repetitively, to change unspoken and unconscious attitudes and expressions. At some point, even the most rigid relics in the music industry will give up their defensive reactions and realise that, hang on, this diversity stuff is all the rage, where can we get some?
Well, you can start with this issue.
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi