Listening is distinguished from hearing as a faculty of perception that is learned, and that is historically and culturally variable. But it is no mere faculty at Kinship Records (the book’s ethnographic field site); instead consumers are referred to as listeners, understood as subjects by way of their faculties of aural perception. By specifically addressing listeners’ ears and staging interactions with the aural other there, the ear is constructed as the site of agency production. I focus not only on listening but aurality because of the significance ascribed to the ear and on the biopolitical instrumentalization of listening as what Jonathan Sterne calls an “audile technique” promoted by the WMCI that has had material consequences with raced and gendered implications. In this chapter I ask: What is the history of the WMCI’s imaginary and fantasized ideal listener—that white woman between her late twenties and early forties—and how has an entire industry been structured around fantasizing about her fantasies? What you have before you is a critical examination of the WMCI and its racialized and gendered fantasies of sexuality in sound.
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