I was checking Under the Radar magazine’s website for their yearly music review when I found this blog discussing the ways in which feminism is failing at highlighting sexism in the music industry (and in general, really).
“…how many times is someone going to read the absolutely valid comment that “I was objectified and this is absolutely not on” from a female singer before they feel a sense of déjà vu? Whilst it’s unfair to criticise anyone for speaking out against objectification, the very nature of ‘everyday sexism’ means that the subject will become repetitive and, without adding anything new to the debate, the point cannot help but become belaboured and overwhelming.” –Dan Lucas
You know, part of me gets it. I feel his pain. I’ve read so many articles about the sexism and harassment female musicians experience while on tour. I’ve read multiple articles about the lack of female-fronted bands at music festivals. I’ve read countless articles about the problematic portrayal of women in the music industry. Add in other aspects of identity (women of color, lesbian/queer/trans- women, older women, etc.) and the picture gets even more dismal.
Where the author and I disagree is the target of our frustration. I, too, get that “not this again” feeling when reading/hearing about yet another experience of sexism. But my frustration is not at the individual sharing their story. My frustration lies in the fact that it is still happening. Despite the fact that gender discrimination and feminism have become more mainstream to talk and write about, the pervasiveness of sexism in our society is still deeply entrenched in our culture. And I know that, for as many individuals courageous enough and able to speak out about their experiences, there are countless others whose voices are never heard.
I agree with Lucas that the hypocrisy of whom we pick and choose to villainize in the media is problematic. But the solution is not to refrain from being critical. It is to spend more time understanding why some artists get a free pass and others are scapegoated. It means spending more time having conversations about the greater structures and norms that allow sexism in the media to exist at all levels. It requires more conversations and greater reflection, and then it requires action.
So in 2014, I encourage you to continue to speak out against oppressive systems. Share your stories. Share your experiences. Use your position to help expose discrimination and give a platform for those who may not have the social capitol to speak. Support awesome organizations like Girls Rock.
To those who find the conversations mundane: We are not sharing our stories to entertain you. We are not sharing them to show you how unique our experiences are. It is the repetitive, redundant experiences of sexism that women (and men) are living every day. I assure you—it is as belabored and overwhelming to live as it is to read about. If you are tired of hearing about sexism, then be an ally. Find ways to promote and book female-fronted bands in your city. Make shows a safe space for women to both play and attend. Have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment at your local venue.
I don’t know what will eventually get people to pay attention. But I know for a fact that silence doesn’t work. And although the author did not want to write “an ill-advised ‘men’s rights’ column,” he may have fallen into his own category of “ the well-intentioned who fuck up their own arguments.”
The author does seem to respect the feminist opinions of Miley Cyrus:
“The evidence, from her original and intelligent thoughts to her cynical-but-correct unspoken acknowledgement that the controversy she generates benefits her career, suggests that Cyrus is a far more astute woman than she gets credit for. We could learn a lot from her.”
Reminding us, yet again, that the voices are women are best heard and recognized if they come paired with hypersexuality and scandal. Apparently Dan Lucas, like much of America, can’t be bothered with our everyday sexism. It’s just not…sexy enough.
EMPOWERTAINMENT aims to take a critical look at media in regards to how gender and women/girls are portrayed. From popular articles, videos, and websites, to original submissions, we want to not only examine the media and its relation to gender, but help shift it.