Sex sells. Or so we’re told. It’s one of the oldest marketing techniques, and the music industry is no exception to using it as an advertising tool. Unfortunately, as has come to light in recent years, a lot of the bartering that involves sex goes on behind closed doors.
Incredibly successful artist and producer Grimes has come forward on multiple occasions to speak about the extreme sexism that she has been confronted with, in particular regarding her vile treatment by male producers. At best, this meant a lack of respect for her capabilities, at worst this was attempted blackmail into having sex with the threat of refusing to produce her tracks. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Thousands of women deal with this kind of harassment in the attempt to further their music career. Whilst it is not exclusive to the music industry, there does seem to be something about the fact that women’s art can be bought and controlled by companies lends itself to producers thinking that this kind of contract can extend to their bodies and powers of consent. This vicious cycle starts at the very beginning of a woman’s musical career and newly blossoming artists are often exploited on the assumption that they will do anything to get ahead. But it doesn’t stop there. One would think that by the time a female artist has become relatively successful, a certain level of respect would be earned by her musical peers. However from endless accounts of harassment from even the most successful female names in music, we know this is not true.
For Grimes and for many other female artists, the music industry still appears to be an inherently male space where women are treated like the kid at your birthday party that your mum made you invite out of politeness. As if they shouldn’t be there in the first place. For no matter how hard they work or how loud they shout, women in the music industry are always seen as first and foremost just that. Women. Everything else in relation to their music seems to come second.
Whilst it is not a new concept that we have an innate problem with separating people’s art from their gender, it is one that is vital we address. Mainly because it will only serve to damage the artistic pursuits of all genders, not just women.
So how do we stop this never-ending cycle? Is it even possible? I think that saying it isn’t would be extremely defeatist but god knows we’ve got a long way to go. The only way this will ever get resolved if we, and more importantly people in positions of power in the industry, stop treating women as if they have any less right to be there than any one less. Maybe then they can stop shouting for their voices to be heard and start singing instead.
[Aoife Maguire – @aoifeymaguire]
Image: Grimes on VICE i-D