Lyrical Badness: An Exploration of Sexism in Modern Music

Everybody get up…

I’d like to focus actually on the women in music themselves for this post. Perhaps the most prominent feature of modern pop music is the lyrics, given that casual listeners use them as a homing point to “relate to” the song, or find themselves being unable to escape the genius of that catchy hook that keeps it as an ever-present in their music library. And so, with this in mind, the ‘Women in Music’ in this post are those that are actually portrayed in the lyrical content of certain songs.

Thicke

It has become an accepted byproduct of rap music that it includes over-the-top, overtly over-sexualised lyrics that subordinate and demean women. It’s become sort of a “funny” characteristic to wittily reel off in a stereotypical assessment of the genre, much in the same way you might make some hilarious comment about tractors and country music. However, lyrics that glorify rape culture and vilify women transcend musical style, and we’re starting to see them permeate mainstream music unashamedly blared on the radio. Now we can browse jeans in Topshop whilst hearing Robin Thicke’s insistence that ‘I know you want it’, and even listen to oh-so-sweet Taylor Swift’s characteristically innocent quip that ‘she’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress’ whilst driving to work.

Continue reading “Lyrical Badness: An Exploration of Sexism in Modern Music”

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Man’s World: The Normalisation of Misogynistic Attitudes in Music

goodforagirlFollowing on from my last post, I got thinking about the reception of women in music, rather than just their representation. Now, this is something that encapsulates the world of music as a whole entity, in that not only are female artists themselves subject to a torrent of abuse regarding gender, but there is an entire orgy of horror stories bubbling away beneath the glitzy neon lights of musical stardom.

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Ozzy Osbourne of metal band Black Sabbath in the ’70s and as a solo performer thereafter was a notorious kingpin of “sex, drugs and rock & roll”, asserting male privilege in beating wife, Sharon, and his ‘sex addiction’.

Pulling back the curtains to take a behind-the-scenes look at the business as a whole creates a strong foundation for the injustices of an industry to be built upon. The world of music has been long-attributed as the realm of men; the heavily-tattooed shady-looking sound tech, the seedy, leering merch guy,  the archetypal womanising rockstar persona – there is no end to the list of Jaggers and Osbournes setting a precedent for the industry as a well-guarded fortress for men only. The entire thing carries a sense of masculine bravado that instantly ostracises any woman who steps into the field. In a way, contemporary society, influenced in part by media portrayals and the romanticisation of the grungy, local dive venue, has condemned even the physical space that music sets itself within as carrying an inherently “manly” badge of honour. The politics of music production and performance, particularly at grass-roots levels are extremely skewed towards its male participants, with the DIY approach seeming only to further encourage the exclusivity of the local music scene as an out-and-out boys club. Not only is the stage a big no-no for girls, but everything around it (that isn’t throwing your bra amorously at the lead singer) is often deemed out-of-bounds it seems too. Continue reading “Man’s World: The Normalisation of Misogynistic Attitudes in Music”

Stripped Down: A Look at the Over-Sexualisation of Women in Music

As we flitter on into 2017, we have bore witness to mass changes in contemporary culture, largely amassed directly from seismic shifts in music. Tweaked here and there, but seemingly ever-present is the forlorn figure of that eternal woman in music – and all of the gaudy and provocative accompaniments that follow.

Beyoncé's Instagram photo, receiving almost 10 million likes and "breaking the internet" this February demonstrates the display of skin in a demure way that exudes power and grace.
Beyoncé’s Instagram photo, receiving over 10 million likes and “breaking the internet” this February demonstrates the display of skin in a demure way that exudes power and grace.

The Year of our Lord, 2017: the ravage and often circus-like representation of female artists has taken a (temporary) backseat. Prominent musical women such as Beyoncé now draw huge plaudits (2017 translation: Instagram likes) for artsy pictures, posing with her baby bump, demonstrating a huge divergence from the more commonly acclaimed baring of all for social media. It seems more and more young women are buying into the ‘Queen B’ brand nowadays, perhaps moreso than into her music itself. This of course is not necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of examples of bad byproducts of women’s music that fans have eagerly lapped up over their professional output. We have only recently come out (fairly) unscathed from a few turbulent years of unabashed female “ostentatiousness”, wherein reckless teen abandon and the systematic decimation of the young and innocent child star image seemed to be the in-thing. Continue reading “Stripped Down: A Look at the Over-Sexualisation of Women in Music”