There has been a lot of talk about the new era of empowered women in the music business lately. There have been questions like “why have the women suddenly broken through on the scene?” and “what will happen with the women now?“.
Excuse me for saying that this is not only incorrect, but also means little to nothing to the equality of our society.
Women have been a rule rather than exception in the artist scene since the late early 80′s. As pointed out by Gillian Orr in her brilliant article in the Independent: ”the list of bestselling artists each year for the last 30 years includes 10 women, 8 men and 12 groups”. Remember Madonna, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston etc.? No, the real problem lies in how some of these contemporary women are forced or encouraged to depict themselves in order to be successful.
Music and music videos educate us culturally, they send us messages. Somewhere in my mind I actually imagine that Kendrik Lamar has got more girls than I can ever imagine, both “wifeys and mistresses” and that if I don’t respect him, I will die from a shower of lead. I’m a sucker for Hip Hop and Gangsta, but I often want to vomit on the lyrics. The dancehall scene is another one mostly about lightly dressed women shaking their body parts, but most surprisingly, I feel that the mainstream scene is one of the worst. Rihanna’s latest soft porn video to “Stay” featuring Mikky Ekko, shows the female singer undressing in extreme close-ups and then stepping down into a bath tub (where she remains for the rest of the song) while singing she wants him to stay and “Funny you’re the broken one but I’m the only one who needed saving”. Mikky Ekko is fully dressed by another bathtub the entire video. This video is no exception, have a look at some of the recent works of Iggy Azalea, Nicki Minaj, or Vybz Kartel. Sex sells because it speaks to our basic needs, but isn’t there another approach to sex and sensualism apart from showing naked women? This is the music we hear through the traditional mediums, the radio and the television, and therefore it sends a message to both parents and kids that this is the accepted and appropriate style. It’s 2013 now, this is an old debate, but someone, somewhere still allows for this (s**t) to pass the filters. Why do we keep reinforcing old stereotypes that nobody wants?
Many people would argue that you’d sell whatever sells, but I believe that is a caveman’s point of view. If we are to build a better future, we must take it as our duty to educate and inspire the new generations to behave differently. With the power shifting away from the labels and the big companies, the produsers can change the norm, but only if we actually do something about it. There is, however, a rising culture of non-sexist music out there, which has probably emerged because the people of the world now have a say in what we want and prefer.
But there are movements behind the curtains as well: Women in Music is a 30 year old organization that works “to advance the awareness, equality, diversity, heritage, opportunities, and cultural aspects of women in the musical arts”. They are a collective of men and women working in the record industry that offer seminars, Q&A’s and personal support for women working in the industry.
If you are still young and innocent while reading this: Don’t listen to gangsta rap until you’re old enough to disregard the lyrics.
Title Game (written by a man!)