“Older” women in music

Women are kicked out of music when they get older. 

That isn’t an opinion. 

Of course, it’s not 100% of the time, but it’s so damn close that we’re loathe to admit that. 

Think about the women over 40 years old that you can name who are still making music that tops pop charts. How many are there? 

Now think about the men, or male-dominated bands. 

If there’s not a distinct imbalance, we’re worried you’re not thinking hard enough. Or thinking too hard, perhaps. 

A recent post on thelavalizard.com explored this issue. 

Using Mariah Carey as an example, the article showed the progression from young, dominating star to laughable has-been.

“After being introduced to consumers as the innocent, MOR (middle of the road) girl next door in the early 1990s, the diva was reborn in 1997 as a sexy butterfly with a point to prove to her then estranged husband, Tommy Mottola.

“Sadly, Carey’s experienced several personal and professional upsets at the turn of the century as her career seemingly came to an end. In addition to being labelled insane – her Hello Kitty obsession clearly didn’t help her cause – the public’s interest in her sex appeal began to fade and there were several calls by critics for her to cover her lovely lady lumps. What else coincidentally happened around that time? Carey turned 30.”

The article does well to pinpoint the issue as it appears today: “…music is a product, women are used to sell those products and the primary target audience for media companies are men.”

The recent obsession with image and visual stimulation has meant that women are no longer seen as talent, and are now seen as bodies. The ageist agenda of music and the mainstream music industry means that women past 40 aren’t competitive. They’re ignored. They’re clowns. They’re done. 

What do you think? Are women less marketable in music once they get older? Do you see a difference between men and women in visual value? Are you convinced?





2 thoughts on ““Older” women in music

  1. Music For Ears Not Eyes

    Yes, it is a problem, but let’s face it, the problem stems from the fact that image has been over prioritised. Most of the people referenced in the article, I would classify in the category of ‘there one minute gone the next’. Sure they have a mass following but they aren’t necessarily on a list of female musicians I would rate highly.

    It’s no different for men or women. I’m sorry if that’s not what you wanted to hear, but pop stars are pop stars and once they reach a certain age we throw them away. They’re disposable.

    If Mariah Carey is struggling, than that’s her problem. She should have become a songwriter and offered more to the music industry. Tina Turner’s career endured its greatest success during the 1980’s, at a time when she was well into her forties. Images of her belting out tunes with Mick Jagger at live Aid in 1985 demonstrate that whatever your sex, if you’ve got good music, and real soul, you can be 80 and still popular. Then in the 90’s (when she was in her fifties, she became the voice of the NRL with ‘You’re simply the best’. Age doesn’t have anything to do with music, especially when a male dominated sport is paying a 50 year old woman to promote the game. But if a popstar is selling their body over their music, than they should expect their career to end at 40.

  2. boycottbodyshame

    There’s a girlband (the clue’s in the name) in the UK called The Saturdays, who are apparently getting too old to be a girlband – they’re aged between mid 20s to early 30s (so old, right?) but compared to new bands like 1D and Little Mix they have a more mature market. Three out of five members have babies, so lots of people are saying that it’s cringey and they should stop doing their jobs and start being mothers, which I find completely ridiculous. Bit annoying that finally there are role models that balance work and family in a very public sense, and people just want to take them down.

    Anyway, I just thought that was a good example of sexism in the highly sexualised music industry – mothers can’t be confident in their sexuality, can they? Nor should they keep their jobs.


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