What’s sex got to do with it? – Gender Equality & The Music Industry

It’s not a surprise that I want to talk about gender equality in the music industry. I am the founder of Girls’ Globe and as a blogger and activist, I know it is incredibly important to speak out about sexism and discrimination, also in the music industry. It is not solely about the strong dominance of males in the industry, but also about the way women and girls are portrayed.

I am sure none of you have missed the video for “Wrecking Ball” where Miley Cyrus swings naked and licks a sledgehammer, that caused Irish music legend Sinead O’Connor to reply in an open blog post to the young pop star. Blogger Farah Mohammed explains why we just need to stop talking about Miley. Further, I doubt any of you didn’t bob your head and swing your hips to the summer’s hit tune from Robin Thicke – the song that ultimately blurs out the lines between consenting sex and rape (read my blog post about that on Girls’ Globe).

The music industry is infested with sexism and gender discrimination, which affects all of us. The way women and girls are represented has an effect that roots itself deeply in the norms that rule our societies – impacting gender-related violence, hate crimes, teenage girls’ and boy’s self-esteem and eating disorders.

In this article in the Guardian, women in the music industry speak out about not compromising, how they are changing the way women are portrayed, but also how competition is making the industry more risk-averse, adhering to the regular phenomenon “sex sells”. Mairead Nash, Manager of Florence and the Machine says,

I think the traditional music industry collapsing – in terms of how the digital world has changed it – has been a good thing for women, though.

Amy Morgan, Creative Director at Beggars Music states,

But the music industry is also only a mirror to bigger social problems. All it’s doing is producing cultural products that people want to buy…

So sexism, social norms and the music industry are highly interlinked. In this video by NME, Janelle Monae explains her encounter with sexism and our collective responsibility to rise above it.

So is the situation getting worse or is the old boys club disappearing?

There are some amazing changemakers in the music industry today. The global movement Ladyfest is creating music and cultural events focusing on equality – Ladyfest is available all over Europe and the USA. Swedish, Lina Thomsgård, PR consultant (for Robyn among others), started the social media platform Rättviseförmedlingen, or Equalisters in English, with the goal to correct the imbalances of representation in media, culture, business and other contexts. Another Swedish initiative is an all female collective, booking and production company with some amazing talents in their portfolio: Femtastic.

Looking for something sweet to attend this weekend? Check out Klubb Femtastic in Malmö or Backbone Fest in Atlanta!

It is these amazing initiatives that are changing the music scene, and ultimately, changing the world. All we want to do at Emues is to support these efforts to making the music industry more equal, democratic, transparent, and free from discrimination and sexism.

From here on in, we’ll be working on highlighting amazing artists, music, videos, initiatives, parties, and more that are leading the way for change.

Now enjoy this tune from Cleo:

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