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05/04/2020 The magazine by Communication Science students of the UvA

Sexism in the Music Industry & How You Are a Victim Too

On the 8th of March it was International Womens Day. Emma explains in her article why this day is still relevant and we still need such a day.


On March 8th, people all around the globe celebrated ‘International Women’s Day’, a holiday that each year reminds us of the struggle women face in their life, every single day. A struggle that, no matter what people (men!) might say, is far from being over.

In any industry women decide to be employed in, they are bound to face countless instances of sexism: from the gender pay gap that still exists even in first world countries, to sexual harassment in the workplace, which 60% of women have reported to have faced at least once.

However, nowadays misogyny can be much more subtle and understated, so much so that many people do not even notice that it’s there. But, as most women would say, it is there, and it is extremely annoying. An example? Sexism in the music industry.

The music industry is based on three pillars: the artists, the people who work behind-the-scenes – i.e. songwriters, musicians, composers – and the fans. And yes, all three of them face misogyny on some level.

Artists
All singers are constantly being judged and scrutinized under a magnifying glass every second of their every day, but female artists are known to always get the short end of the stick. In fact, any aspect of their lives is the subject of discussion and careless rumors, with their stories being constantly paraded on the covers and headlines of flashy gossip magazines.

Their body is continuously judged – as it never seems to be ‘thin enough’ or ‘curvy enough’. Their fashion sense is picked apart by wannabe fashionistas – as it is either ‘too boring’ or ‘too sexy’. Their love life and behavior are analyzed by cheap press reporters who act like part-time psychologists, and who feel like they are entitled to have an opinion on a stranger’s life. In the public eye, female artists are either never enough or just way too much, and that must be incredibly frustrating for them.

Therefore, it is no wonder why there are so few women who actually make it into the entertainment industry, as according to a study from 2017, 16.8% of artists are female, whereas 83.2% are men.

After all, signing a record deal as a woman means signing up for a life of being a victim of constant body-shaming, slut-shaming, and overall painful judgments, which is not something everyone is willing to cope with. Especially since you never know if the benefits will actually outweigh the costs.

Behind-the-scenes workers
Even women who work behind the scenes in music face an abundance of misogyny, however different it may be from what female singers experience.

Women who work as record producers, composers or songwriters face incredibly tough challenges every day, trials that can be compared to what women in STEM fields (i.e. science, technology, engineering, and math) go through: they are not respected or taken seriously by the public, and they are always the second choice, after their male colleagues. Female producers need to be the best of the best to be recognized for their talent, and even then, that doesn’t happen very often.

For example, the Grammys have been celebrating producers with the award ‘Producer of the Year’ for nearly 45 years, yet no woman has ever won it. The six females who were lucky enough to be nominated were amongst the biggest names in the industry, such as Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, but even their status and fame wasn’t enough. 

Men, on the other hand, always managed to be nominated and to win, no matter how famous or not they were. Was it because they were inheritably better? Not really. At least not always. The difference is that women have to do back-flips and constantly be at the top of the game to even have a shot at winning, while men are allowed to be mediocre and still get celebrated.

That’s why in the music industry, as reported in the 2017 study, 98% of producers are male, while only 2% are women. After all, not everybody enjoys having to fight for even the slightest bit of recognition.

Female producers need to be the best of the best to be recognized for their talent, and even then, that doesn’t happen very often

Fans
There is a term used to describe female fans of a certain singer or group – fangirls, a word that is usually used as a derogatory and mocking insult. Why? Oh, you haven’t heard? Fangirls are obsessive, crazy, shallow, borderline stalkers, who don’t know squats about music! Why would they not deserve to be mocked and ridiculed?

On the other hand, guys do not receive the same harsh treatment from society: they are not judged for standing in line for hours for a concert or called crazy for being excited over new music from their favorite artist. Why? The answer is easy – sexism!

The double-standards still so prominent in our society have led people to believe that fanboys are in it for the music, whereas fangirls are assigned the label of the shallow psycho, who is only interested in the artist’s visual appearance, and not their art.

Let’s all ignore the fact that male fans can be as obsessive as fangirls (and sometimes even more!). Have you ever seen a group of male football fans watch their team lose? Well, if you want to see grown men weep like war widows, that’s the way to go. When that happens, those guys get so upset and angry, they cry and yell and throw things – yet they are not called obsessive or hysterical. They are passionate. As a man is allowed to react, while a woman can only overreact.

So, keep this in mind next year, when on ‘International Women’s Day’, you will hear a man say ‘Why do we need a whole day for women?’.

Men get the remaining 364 days, so it’s nice to have a day once in a while to remind us of all the things we have to face, no matter how famous and talented we are.

Ultimately, as so many female artists have proven, women and men and inherently just as talented – they just aren’t given the same opportunities. And once they are, I hope the world decides to listen.

 

Cover: Pexels 

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