Music & Misogyny: Sexism in the Music Industry

Loyle Carner has recently been praised for kicking a fan out of his concert due to a sexist comment aimed at the female support act. Carner later tweeted, “That shit will not be tolerated at any show. He’s been banned from that venue, for life”. Despite Carner fighting against this disgusting attitude towards female musicians, we are simply reminded of yet another industry still rife with sexism.

Linda Battilani of alternative rock band Halflives spoke out on sexism in the music industry, commenting, “women work as hard as men in this industry, and they shouldn’t have to prove something more just because they’re women”. This draws attention to the fact that for the majority of female artists, particularly in the charts, they are often sexualised in order to be as successful as male artists because ‘sex sells’. Beyoncé stands for a rare case where a female artist is in control of her own sexuality and this is empowering, however women should not feel pressured into hyper- sexualisation in order to be successful. I agree that owning your sexuality is empowering, but when it is seen as the only form of empowerment for women in the music industry, then something must be wrong. If a female artist is seen to be wearing something that does not fit into the elusive category of ‘sexy’, then she must be ‘making a statement’ as opposed to just wearing what she wants when she wants.

Either way, female musicians are trolled and ridiculed all the time especially in reference to their appearance. For example Pink received the charming comment of “Shut up u uptight fat butch dyke,”, and Piers Morgan commented that Madonna “shouldn’t be wearing fishnets and revealing costumes because she’s 56”.It is attitudes such as these that perpetuate the problem of sexism within the music industry. It also seems an issue that young boys or ‘lads’ find it difficult to admit to liking female artists for their talent, they often have to justify it by sexualising them.

Unfortunately the disgraced Loyle Carner fan is not an anomaly at concerts, and often the sexism in this industry extends to the gig goers themselves. The amount of sexual harassment that takes place at concerts is obscene, if it is acceptable to harass female artists then it is apparently acceptable to harass the female fans. Sweden has recently announced a female only festival that will take place in 2018 until “men have learned to behave themselves”, asking for “a safe space for the people who want to attend a festival without feeling scared for their personal safety.” It is terrible that this even needs to happen but at least these issues are finally being confronted.

Following the news of Harvey Weinstein, the corruption in the music industry is no exception to such predatory behaviour. The Runaways are just one example of a band who experienced sexual abuse and assault. Bass guitarist Jackie Fuchs spoke out in 2015 about being raped by the band’s manager, Kim Fowley. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Canadian artist Grimes said “I’ve been in numerous situations where male producers would literally be like, ‘We won’t finish the song unless you come back to my hotel room,’”. Grimes is a successful artist who has produced her own music but even this is target of sexism as she comments it’s “as if the fact that I’m a woman makes me incapable of using technology. I have never seen this kind of thing happen to any of my male peers.” Grimes also makes the excellent observation of people assuming “that just because something happens regularly it’s ok.” Sexism in the music industry should have been eradicated decades ago, but at least artists like Loyle Carner are making a stand against it, and hopefully more people will join him.

Phoebe Berman