In a recent conversation with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready on Sirius/XM satellite radio, notoriously candid rocker Jack White took a moment to comment on the nature of his all-female band. "It's a real shame that if a woman goes onstage with an instrument, it's almost a novelty to people," White lamented, "like, 'Oh, isn't that cute.' It's a shame that in 2014 that's a little bit of what's going on in the perception in the room."
While White's comments certainly address the problematic nature of gendered power imbalances in music today, and it's noteworthy that he does so, the larger question remains whether he is really doing anything to displace these dynamics. Does his utilization of an all-female backing band in order to be "provocative" read instead as gimmicky, and further fetishize women in music? Is creating a backdrop of women to offset White himself, as an all-powerful male, lead an empowering move, or a stifling one? It's a tough call, but at least Jack demonstrates an awareness and vocality that his peers might take note of.