time to change the way we view music and the arts

Breaking free of the broken record: Misogynistic misgivings in the music industry

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A new step in stopping the sexism that so often comes from the music industry’s stereotypes…
Ross, Erin “Musicogyny Logo” 16 April 2014

Social justice isn’t my thing. That’s not to say I do not believe in causes of a social justice nature but it certainly isn’t the vector I devote my time to the way someone in that field does, much the same way I check in with new songs and musicians who break onto the scene every morning when my computer finishes loading.

Nonetheless, what is there to do when those two things come crashing together and are so intertwined, that a set of isolated discussions just cannot happen? Then imagine a spotlight is placed upon the mix – and not only for a moment but perpetually – and kept in place so no one forgets about what is being addressed.

Lately, the music industry seems to be taking more note of the ubiquitous problem of misogyny (as well as overall, gender-based mistreatment) Such notice is a good development but, the state of things remains on such a macro level of analysis that it can feel like no one is going past the primary acknowledgement that “there is a problem with this kind of behavior.”

Myself and a group of other professionals, Emily Gonneau, Alison Lamb,Lucy Blairand James Martin,all of whom I share a midem-blogging bond with, have stepped up to place the spotlight on this topic and keep the discussion around it both active and evolving, in hopes that truly divergent change can finally emerge. Musicogyny is the name given to this idea-turned-safe-sharing outlet, and, our aspiration is that this platform will carve a new, effective path for moving away from misogyny and make the community behind the world’s music, a better, happier place to work, play and explore.

On the other hand, once anyone starts to dis-assemble and discuss a particular misogynistic or gender-inappropriate experience with, for example, an artist, music video or, a comment made in an interview, the internet becomes so loaded with sides taken on the one issue that the common desired end goal of “let’s stop this altogether” ends up drowning in the noise of excess talk.

Does it appear a little extreme to simply get so serious about such a intense issue, as the chosen way to start the day? Maybe it is. Conversely, it’s equally as easy to ask, “Why not now?”

One would think if the negative judgement of a person based on their gender is seen so clearly cut as a wrong form of behavior, it would have died off ages ago. The music industry, being as rife with

pre-conceived notions about one’s individual character, based on things like genre preference and or sub-cultural pursuance (or lack thereof) probably plays a significant role towards why seemingly basic logic gets thrown out the window and left to blow in the wind. Music being a subjective field and human nature being the epitome of gray areas of discussion, the difficulty in progress starts to become more obvious. The individualized nature of how music makes us feel and what/where we apply it in our lives, makes the idea of putting an “absolute” on some piece of the industry behind it, look like an inherent impossibility.

What if it didn’t have to be that way though?

Music and the like or dislike thereof are subjective, yes. However, just because a person works with a flexible and creative medium does not mean the long existent, inclusion of gender negatives on music’s professionals, has to be looked upon as something that has to remain proportionately flexible, and infinitely non-judged, the way we try not to judge the commodity in which music professionals engage. Music industry professionals need separation from the nature of the commodity. Even if one works with material that addresses all manner of emotional variables, that does not automatically attach all, or even necessarily any, of those variables to an individual in question.

If a person assembles parts of weapons for a living, should that default them to assumptions of having, or needing to have, let’s say, an aggressive personality, or, be of a certain gender that predominately uses said weapon, in order to do their job effectively?No.

It’s the proximity of an individual to a generalized set of field-based stereotypes, that gets them caught in the bigger net of stereotype-fueled negative talkaround gender, even if that specific person functions neutrally in a particular field. Whether it be music, dance, armed forces, science, manual labor in technical work, politics…any one of these areas could be swapped out with one another and I’m sure each would unearth similar macro vs. micro analysis conflict that prevent the professionals therein from breaking free of “the bigger issue” of gender-bias and all the down talk that comes with it. Still, why not hook macro together with micro intervention and have them support, rather than oppose, one another in pursuit of removing a problem like gender judgement?

It may be much easier said than done to imagine a field of occupation without stereotypes whatsoever (I can strive and dream!) but the continuing existence of one kind of stereotyp(ing) in music does not mean every type has to get a pass. We can choose to start tackling one piece at a timeand start with gender based misgivings (micro alteration) but execute the tackling of this topic with a no-nonsense approach, saying “ANY gender based mistreatmentis simply not welcome” (macro alteration). The two can coexist and collectively work to improve the structure of the music industry.

It’s important to remember that while stereotypes exist in a vacuum alongside a grain of truth, those grains usually reside in a period long past, have been steadily mutated over time, and, are only sustained into the present by people believing and acting as though that time of origin is much more recent than reality would otherwise reveal.

The creative character ingrained into music’s industry should not be the excuse for inappropriate judgement but instead, should be looked to as a source of inspirationfor unexpected ways of stopping gender based perceptions where they have gone wrong.



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If you don’t have a negative story to tell (which is a good thing, let’s keep it that way!) you can still show your support for change, and for those brave enough to share their experiences in pursuit thereof, in the following places:

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