Misogyny is Part of Bigger Problem With US Music Industry

14th May 2014 1 comment

Anyone who knows me, reads Thirty Roses regularly, or follows me on Facebook or Twitter knows that I love no music industry news source more than CMU. Not only do they know what they’re talking about, they’re always funny, charming, and eager to engage in a quick chat about the news of the day. Anyone who knows me also knows that I loathe Robin Thicke and that insipid Blurred Lines song. Apart from the vile content (which I’m trying to forgive Pharrell for), I just find it to be annoying. (*Please note that I have, for my own sense of sanity, changed Robin Thicke’s name to Jrobin Thicke. When looking for Radiohead videos On Demand Robin Thicke was near Radiohead due to a tragic alphabetical mishap….I refuse to live in a world where Robin Thicke is near Radiohead so I’ve changed his name, if only in my own head, so that this cannot happen. Jrobin Thicke it is).
Anyhow, yes, the wonderful and ever delightful Andy Malt wrote this morning about misogyny in the music industry and the influence the US has on the industry in the UK. It was pointed out that the biggest instances of sexism and controversy involving women being poorly represented in music last year were by American artists. While I don’t disagree in the slightest, I think this speaks to a larger issue, or perhaps several larger issues at play in the American music industry.
While women being objectified is seemingly as old as time itself, people never seem to tire of it, including the women themselves. It may be argued that the Jrobin Thicke song was written and performed by men and happens to feature naked women (Pharrel and Thicke argue the track is actually a female empowerment anthem, I disagree), there are countless examples of female artists who objectify themselves at every turn. There’s Miley Cyrus and her much discussed ode to Chuck E. Cheese at last years MTV awards and subsequent intimations with a wrecking ball. Katy Perry and Beyoncé, who are seldom (if ever) seen in anything that doesn’t expose ample breasts, cleavage, and legs. Lady Gaga, who, in the name of *cough cough* art, is frequently naked, wrapped in cellophane, wearing seven inch heels, and walking around some city or other crying out for attention barely covered up, if at all. Yes, there’s definitely a problem with misogyny in the music industry but society seems to be repeatedly fed the same swill by the very people who could and should be working to curb the problem. In one of my many tirades about ‘Blurred Lines‘ my friend Brent pointed out that women are the ones who love that song and I realized he was exactly right. Everyone I knew who was a fan of the Jrobin Thicke song was a woman. Every. Single. One. Instead of creating a sisterhood, again women are acting as their own worst enemy.

It's about the music

Remember, it’s about the music

This brings me to my next point; the larger issue. This lack of solidarity isn’t confined to women not standing up for other women, or for themselves for that matter; the industry in America lacks cohesion. It’s each artist for themselves and, while that may be fine for immediate sales or Spotify streams, the impact it has on the health of the industry isn’t a positive one.
It’s not particularly surprising that the UK is addressing the issue of misogyny in the industry; the UK is always proactive in working to better the industry for artists. Always. The US has a tendency to act like a spoiled, know-it-all-teenager who kicks and screams, proclaiming their independence and maturity whilst asking mum and dad to borrow a fiver. Yes, the American music industry thinks it knows all, yet it’s the UK that has a coalition of top artists active in inciting change. No such thing exists in America. It is the UK which has an active organization of top managers who meet regularly to stay on top of key industry issues. Perhaps most importantly, the two organizations work together for further benefit to all and the betterment of the industry as a whole. For those unfamiliar with The Featured Artists Coalition and UK chapter of the Music Managers Forum, I’ve written about them HERE, HERE, and HERE.
The UK industry in general is quite inclined to rally together to address a problem. Managers and artists are willing to work together and understand that everyone’s career will ultimately benefit in a healthy, thriving industry and that mentality doesn’t exist in America. Whether it’s a matter of scantily clad women, degrading lyrics, or artist rights, there’s no unity in the United States. Each artist and management team remains in their own bubble and worries about their own career; the health of the industry as a whole be damned!
While this doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon, it is probably a good thing that, even though the American industry thinks it rules the world, it usually ends up copying the UK. My hope is that this isn’t confined to popular artists and that the US chapter of the MMF gets its act together and follows the example of the MMF UK.
While issues such as sexism and misogyny don’t have simple solutions, they’re easier to address with a unified industry.

Mod Carousel made a parody of Blurred Lines with the gender roles reversed. Watch below.

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