Music Opinion Sexism

Sexism In The Music Industry

October 30, 2015
Sexism In The Music Industry

I could hardly believe it. At first, my eyes widened, my jaw slowly started to drop and I looked around in confusion. There’s sexism in the music industry? Really? Because I hadn’t noticed.

I am, sadly, joking. Unfortunately, the treatment of women as sex objects in the music industry, and the world in general, has been going on for a long time, so when Lauren Mayberry of the band Chvrches wrote an article about her experiences of sexual harassment over Twitter in the Guardian, it was water off a duck’s back for most readers.

Mayberry, the only female member of the Scottish electronic band, receives harassment daily, from being called a ‘slut’, to the more worrying threats of rape. On writing about the harassment she receives, the comments at the bottom were even more concerning, with people saying: “This isn’t rape culture. You’ll know rape culture when I’m raping you, bitch”. Other ‘supportive’ messages she received said that sexual harassment is just “something that happens” and she just has to learn to “deal with it”. But why should a woman in a seemingly educated society just have to “get over” being threatened with rape on a daily basis?

Women in music are judged primarily on their appearance, and their musical ability comes second.

Threats of sexual violence over social media aren’t the only manifestation of misogyny for women within the music industry. Have you ever noticed how, in order to succeed in the public eye, women must look a certain way? Take Susan Boyle as a prime example, a woman who was given a head-to-toe makeover in order to sell her songs. And on the other side of the coin, look at Selena Gomez with her squeaky, nasal voice, but who has gone on to be tremendously successful due to the fact that she is physically attractive?

Women in music are judged primarily on their appearance, and their musical ability comes second. Do you really think Ed Sheeran would’ve been as successful if he was a woman? Do you think a singer who performed at the Brits wearing a T-Shirt and a pair of old jeans would’ve been successful had he been a woman called Edwina? Highly unlikely, and even if he was a woman, she’d have been berated by the tabloid press about how unattractive she was, and encouraged to endure numerous plastic surgery operations in order to look like a clone of Madonna.

There’s also the blatant misogyny in many music videos to be considered. Calvin Harris and the Disciples’ video for ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ is currently the number one watched video in the UK, and is it any surprise that the opening image is a woman wearing a white T-Shirt and black bikini splashing around in the sea? Throughout the video, the camera pans over her bum and her breasts in a bikini whilst she seductively touches her hair.

Or what about Nick Jonas’ ‘Jealous’ video where it’s all fun and games, Nick walking along in a leather jacket and jeans and a jumper and then WHAM there’s a woman sat clad in lingerie playing the cello. If I came home to find my partner playing an instrument in their underwear, I’d get them straight to an institute for the criminally insane. Rita Ora who parades around in a bra and a leather jacket for her ‘Poison’ video? I’m sure a lot of people will claim that it is empowering to see a woman who’s doing her own thing, wearing what she wants, but ask yourself whether she is wearing a bra in her video because she’s an independent lady, or because she was told that, in order to market her songs, she must conform to the patriarchal ideal of being hypersexualised.

It’s so refreshing when artists such as Adele and Beth Ditto, who don’t conform to the stereotypes, enjoy success.

The industry is completely male dominated with the men telling the female artists how to sell songs. There is such a lack of creativity and variety in today’s popular culture, with hardly any female artists over 30 who are still in the public eye, and many girls being told that, in order to prosper in the industry, they must dye their hair blonde, get a boob job and have a BMI of 17. It’s so refreshing when artists such as Adele and Beth Ditto, who don’t conform to the stereotypes, enjoy success. They are girls who aren’t stick insects wearing little more than a G-string, and they are actually successful because of their incredible voices and talent.

The most frustrating thing, however, is that if you want to sell songs in the Western world, the sexual objectification of women is a winner. When you look at other cultures, such as Korean K-pop, all the women are dressed in amazing outfits and making individual, artistic videos which aren’t sexually provocative. However, our music industry, similar to the advertising industry, has become nothing more than a machine programmed into selling a product, regardless of morals, and it’s been proven time and time again that sex sells.

Once we have created a society where there is sexual equality, maybe then women will have a chance at being able to do their job without being threatened with rape or told to conform to male dominated ideals. But until then, we’ve got to keep fighting for equality.


This was originally posted by Fuse Press. For full link, click here


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