Tag Archives: women

Gender and power in the music industry

Rae Harvey was asked to write about the discrepancy between men and women and why there weren’t more women in the AMID Power 50 list. 

She doesn’t think there is one. 

Looking at my inbox at this very moment I have 23 emails waiting for a response. 12 are from males and 11 are from females. I don’t see a massive discrepancy there!

Harvey says women and men are fundamentally different, which changes the way they present themselves. She says men are more egotistical and so put themselves forward more easily and confidently than women, while women are better organised and prepare better. 

Does this mean I think men should be at the forefront in recognition whilst the women take a back seat? Of course not. Looking at this AMID Power 50 I see some people I don’t consider powerful, but do consider influential. I see some people I don’t consider powerful in Australia, but powerful internationally.  And of course I see people I think should be higher or lower. It’s a controversial list by anyone’s standards.

The list can be found here. Do you think she has a point? 

 

Miley Unwrecked

Miley Cyrus has released a director’s cut version of Wrecking Ball.

People have responded with confusion and forgiveness for her earlier footage.

This is confusing on a number of levels.

“Oh, well if that’s what she really meant to do, then it’s not as bad.”

Ok, but why would she do it if she had direct control over her image, as so many people (including Cyrus, herself) have suggested? Why would she and the label spend so much on that other weird concrete stuff if it was not really in the original vision?

“Ah, now I see how it was meant to be like Sinead’s Nothing Compares to You. Just a face! Aha!”

Except, the original video was the one Cyrus was comparing to that clip. She’s dulled it down to support her argument about the video.

I think that the most disappointing part of this is that Cyrus tried to defend the video and eventually caved. Why? Wouldn’t her point be more easily made if she stuck to her guns?

I don’t know. Does it matter? What’s the point?

The Coercion of Charlotte Church

One way I know that fighting sexism in music is necessary is by searching for the term “sexist music”. Every day there’s something new. And every day there’s something actually classed as “news”. 

The most recent of these is a story about Charlotte Church, a Welsh singer whose attack on sexism in the music industry over national radio made headlines yesterday. 

Having experienced coercion from male label bosses to wear revealing clothing and act in a sexually demonstrative way, she is angry about women being forced to show their sexuality as “a prize to be won” and a toy. 

She said her “history” in music videos has almost certainly limited her ability to market her music in certain areas where it would probably be best received. 

She also said her performances and appearances led to internet and social media harassment, seeing her called “slut”, “whore” and a “catalogue of other indignities”. 

This is a common phenomena, where women are both forced into taking their clothes off for music footage and performances, while simultaneously being vilified for it by viewers. 

She said the backlash against Miley Cyrus is a good example. 

What do you think? Promiscuity in video clips – liberating or limiting?

Justifying our guilty pleasures

I look back on music I loved when I was in highschool and I cringe like hell. Mariana’s Trench, The Fratellis, Cobra Starship, even Fall Out Boy. Their music was catchy and made me feel lots of things and was generally pretty decent. The songs I still remember the words to, even now. 

I almost have the attitude that, well, if I didn’t know the songs were sexist or misogynist back then, maybe neither did they. Wanting to forgive so I can still enjoy. I am so disappointed when I listen to songs that I love (in a nostalgic way…) and can barely justify the way I used to think. 

I am better disciplined now. If music I hear sounds like the singer judges women, objectifies women, hates women, or has unrealistic expectations of women (that last one is somewhat flexible, and I don’t know how to feel about Cake’s Short Skirt Long Jacket because, frankly, it’s just a bit confusing with that deadpan, melody-free voice he’s got) I generally can’t listen to it.

When I’m in clubs (on my biannual visits), I know I just have to deal with it. I make mental notes of how much I’m not enjoying myself, and that I probably just shouldn’t come back, but I know I can’t change it. 

I try to avoid criticizing friends’ choices of music because it’s one of those “pick your battles” kind of situations, and I’d rather keep my friends than feel morally superior for ten minutes. 

But when it comes to music I choose to listen to, I am selective like crazy. I know there is a popular way of dealing with skeazy music, which is generally to “compartmentalise” as Ann Friedman writes about in her article, Blurring the Lines: How to Enjoy Maybe-Sexist Music, but I am unable to abide. 

I am so angry at Thicke and West and Timberlake for their disrespect, laziness and unoriginality, that I can’t even WANT to listen as a guilty pleasure. It would be too guilty and not even close to pleasurable enough to bother forcing.

What do you think? How do you justify listening to music with an iffy moral message? 

Shit people say to Mariel Loveland of Candy Hearts

Mariel Loveland of Candy Hearts wrote about what she hates experiencing in the music industry. Along similar lines to the last post on our blog, she deals with frustrating phrases, tones and treatments she has had to put up with. 

Being told that she shouldn’t be so upset at these things is the first one she mentions. Sick of being told how she should about things by men, Loveland says:

“Don’t tell me I should be excited that I can’t wander the beautiful cities we visit on tour alone at night, that I’m consistently belittled by promoters and security or that you have any idea what it’s like to read about the way your butt looks in jeans in a music review.”

Being told you’re “too much of a girl” to handle things, constantly being asked if you’re “just the merch girl”, or being accused of being a gimmick your band uses to sell records are all up there as well on Loveland’s list of crappy gender-related jibes.

The “did you see what she was wearing” line rates a mention as an irrelevant preoccupation people have with assessment of female musicians. 

“I should be able to wear a pair of shorts without later reading comments about the way my butt looked (good or not), or how I’m sexualizing myself to sell records. I shouldn’t have to feel disgusting and violated because I have a female body and it is in front of you in clothes that don’t always fit right.”

To sum up, Loveland acknowledges the sexism is not the biggest part of her musical experience, but equally, that it’s worth mentioning. 

“Someone’s weight or ill-fitting gown has nothing to do with her worth, and women are put in the unfortunate position of needing to be 1,000 things at once. We must be sexy but not too sexy, nice but not too nice, feminine in this mysterious, ever-changing way and ostensibly agreeable. When we are not, we are divas and probably menstruating, or worse—our love for makeup, frilly dresses and radio pop has lead people to believe we are ditsy, vapid individuals.”

What are your thoughts?

Shit people say to female musicians

recent HuffPost blog entry by Steph Guthrie has shined a light on crappy things men say to women who play music. A post pocked by tens of contributions by female musicians on Twitter, Guthrie’s piece shows that sexism in the industry is still wide awake and teething. 

The comments range from “Girl bassists are hot.” and ”Oh, you’re IN the band!” all the way to ”You must’ve dated at least half your band.”

For those who would like to suggest that women are not facing prejudice in the music biz, we’d like you to think again. 

“You should specialize. People don’t like girls who do too much,” is a cringeworthy example of women being told they must be appealing as females in order to have a decent audience. If people like Sinead O’Connor, Amanda Palmer, Dolores from the Cranberries and countless other multitalented women can’t convince society that there is an enthusiastic following for women who DON’T “Just shut up, smile and sing, honey,” that’s a really big problem. 

Steph Guthrie’s personal website contains so many more jewels dealing with feminism, music, politics and technology. 

Do you think these comments are sexist? Are you offended by the lack of respect women receive in the music industry? Do you think we’re overreacting? 

“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?

 

 
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