Try asking five people around you what their favourite songs are. Each time I do this I am reminded that for some reason male voices feature more heavily on our conscience than womens’. Do our ears just prefer the tone of the male voice? Much like one might prefer a cello to a violin? I doubt it. Could it be because there are far fewer ‘great’ female artists, whose careers are able to move beyond sexualisation into something else, or who manage to dodge that stereotyping altogether? More likely.
The monolithic stereotypes of women as either ‘sexual’ or ‘mother’ impact what we hear and perhaps even what we think we like. Sure, we can all name the exceptions, the icons, or those on the periphery – but I bet you can also name the status of most of them as parents or not – which doesn’t even feature for their male counterparts. Women’s careers as artists are often cut off when they become parents, moving from the sexual category to the mother category overnight. This isn’t unique to music, but from an artistic perspective the true greats need time to develop, years spent on their craft and true support as they grow.
As I write this piece, only three out of the top ten United Kingdom music charts are female artists. A quick Google search of best-selling artists reveals eight out of fifty are female artists. There are more and more examples of this elsewhere, and although it finally feels like we are starting to realize the constant sexualisation of women is prolific throughout many industries, it could take a lot longer for a change to actually happen. Because, sadly, the only way to change this mindset lies within the individual, and if the majority of listeners out there think that young or sexy or beautiful are the ways to have agency as a woman, there’s no way a record label is going to have the gumption to challenge this and invest in women who don’t fit this category and keep supporting them as they move through life.
We need more women in music – on both the business and creative sides – as bloggers and journalists, as producers and DJs, and we need them to be aware of and challenge this stereotype so that listeners hear! Let’s talk about it, shout about it, and finally disrupt this pattern. The result will be a richer soundtrack for all of us.
About Lial: Lial is a London based electronic artist who released her debut single, Heart Scars at the end of 2017. Her next single will be released in February 2018.