Gender and Sexuality Expert, VCU Grad Saidel Comes to Richmond

On Thursday afternoon, Prof. Deborah Saidel, arrived in Richmond, VA to give an historical synopsis on the relationship that sexuality and gender relations has played in the development of music.

Recognized for her expertise in gender studies and extensive experience as a classical flute musician and composer, Saidel, a former graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University came to Richmond to discuss a wide array of gender and sexuality topics. For the last year, she has taught a unique class at John Tyler Community College that touches on the significant role women have played in the historical progression of music and musical theory. Saidel’s course is so unique, in fact, that there is no such class offered anywhere else in the state of VA. Her vast knowledge of art, religion, music, and gender are intertwined to provide students with the opportunity to explore how women have overcome sexual barriers to distinguish themselves as musical innovators.

“Having a chance to hear Deborah’s overview allows our staff to expand on their course structure and criteria, and gives our Women’s Studies majors the opportunity to expand their outlook and learn more about gender roles,” said Gretchen Hutchinson, the Director of Gender Studies at VCU.

Saidel began her speech by enlightening the audience of roughly fifteen people about the historical and theological roots of women’s societal roles, and how their effort to powerfully influence an assortment of music deserves more recognition. She went into great detail about ancient hymns that were conceived by women and discussed how matriarchal societies across the world concentrated on female centricity and sacredness in the development of music over time. Furthermore, Saidel presented her course foundation to give her listeners an understanding of the class goals and objectives. “Above all, the goal of the class is to cultivate musical knowledge, explore feminist studies, and to give an historical context for which students can converge ideas and understand the importance of women’s roles throughout the world,” Saidel said. Her course offers an artistic and spiritual perspective to gender roles, that’s designed to tie in ancient, medieval, jazz, folk, popular, and both western and non-western musical genres.

“Women have fought long and hard throughout history to overcome sexually-based obstacles. It’s time that we’re granted the respect and notoriety we deserve for our ability to contribute as instrumentalists and human-beings,” said Margaret Moore, a junior Women’s Studies major at VCU.

After providing such an insightful and sentimental speech, the audience truly appeared to be moved by Saidel’s distinct ability to express herself with such passion and enthusiasm. She clearly provided an invaluable outlook into gender roles throughout the world and made a very strong case for women to receive more  recognition for their artistic achievement. Ultimately, her tireless efforts to infuse interest in art, music, and sexuality mirrored the long, strenuous journey of a woman’s drive to contribute in all aspects of society.


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