The music industry is thought of as a place where you can be daring and liberated but that really depends on who is doing the dares and the liberation.
For a man, it’s okay to grope a woman in a music video, but when a woman shows cleavage its circumstances are exaggerated and every tabloid is covering it.
Comments like “she’s showing too much skin” “Why is she talking about drugs?” “Why are her legs open?” are asked when women dare to do something out of the norm.
Solange Knowles addressed this double standard in a tweet (which has since been deleted) after being described as her producer’s “helper”, instead of being a co-writer to her music and said, “Sexism in the music industry ain’t nothing new.”
As more female musicians and artists experience sexism and misogyny in the music industry, more are coming out and sharing their stories and their perspective on these issues.
Musicians like Kesha, Miley Cyrus, and Lady Gaga have spoken freely about abuse and misogyny they have experienced firsthand, assuring more women that it’s okay, perhaps even necessary, to speak up because that is the only way women will be heard.
Miley Cyrus has twerked and flashed her way out of her old image as Disney character Hannah Montana. Some might say it was a phase and some might say that now that she’s an adult she can finally be who she really is; a hippie, stoner, animal lover.
After her stunt at the VMA’s, grinding on Robin Thicke, she said in an interview with Marie Claire,
“There is so much sexism, ageism, you name it… Kendrick Lamar sings about LSD and he’s cool. I do it and I’m a druggie whore.”
What’s the difference between a man and woman doing drugs?
Alicia Keys going natural was a middle finger to the music industry for putting pressure on her looks. She’s tired of going through a checklist that the industry gave her before walking out of her house or her dressing room. In an interview with ELLE UK she said,
“I used to feel the pressure to appear as the music industry expected but I don’t now.”
Janelle Monae, an R&B singer has also spoken up about sexism in the music industry. In an interview with NME, says that she has experienced this and it is up to us to make people more aware of this problem.
“I absolutely have encountered sexism in the music industry- I don’t look at myself as a victim. I think some people just are not taught any better. And certain behavior has been passed down and it’s been accepted and I think it’s up to us as women not to accept it, and lead by example. I won’t allow myself to be oppressed.”
Taylor Swift is constantly criticized for writing songs about her ex-boyfriends. She vocalized about double standards in an interview with Time Magazine.
“You’re going to have people who are going to say, ‘Oh, you know, like, she just writes songs about her ex-boyfriends and I think frankly that’s a very sexist angle to take. No one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars. They’re all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life, and no one raises the red flag there.”
In the music industry, people find it difficult to realize that many women are responsible for their work and material. For some reason, they believe that only a man can be responsible for their unique work. Lilly Allen, a British pop star is accused of this but to no surprise, she writes all of her music.
Lilly Allen told NME,
“You will also notice of the big successful female artists, there is always a ‘man behind the woman’ piece- If it’s Beyoncé, it’s Jay Z. If it’s Adele, it’s Paul Epworth. Me? It was Mark Ronson and the same with Amy Winehouse. You never get that with men. You can’t think of the man behind the man. Because it is a conversation that never happens. If you are Ed Sheeran or someone, no one ever talks about who has produced or who is the man behind Ed Sheeran.”
Female artists who can talk about sex and be liberated can thank Madonna for that.
On December 9, 2016 Madonna won the award for Woman of the Year at the Billboard Women in Music Awards. Here, she delivered a powerful speech where she touched on misogyny and sexism in the music industry.
“Thank you for acknowledging my ability to continue my career for 34 years in the face of blatant sexism and misogyny and constant bullying and relentless abuse.” “If you’re a girl, you have to play the game. You’re allowed to be pretty and cute and sexy. But don’t act too smart. Don’t have an opinion that’s out of line with the status quo. You are allowed to be objectified by men and dress like a slut, but don’t own your sluttiness. And do not, I repeat do not, share your own sexual fantasies with the world. Be what men want you to be, but more importantly, be what women feel comfortable with you being around other men. And finally, do not age. Because to age is a sin. You will be criticized and vilified and you will definitely not be played on the radio.”
Madonna candidly spoke about the issues she’s experienced as a performer and how she survived in the industry. There are so many “rules” to what women can or can’t do because they are afraid of being portrayed a certain way.
When will it be okay for us women, to be who we are and not be judged for it?
To finish off Madonna’s speech, she thanked the haters because without them she would not be where she is now.
“To the doubters and naysayers and everyone who gave me hell and said I could not, that I would not or I must not ― your resistance made me stronger, made me push harder, made me the fighter that I am today,” she said. “It made me the woman that I am today. So thank you.”