Jay’s Rants: Changing attitudes to Feminism in music

This is something very close to my heart as a dedicated music fan, a proud owner of a vagina and as a member of the human race. As a 90s child, I grew up looking up to female icons and superstars that didn’t need to take off their clothes or twerk to get attention or to be heard.

From what I remember, 90s feminism, on the outside, seemed more militant and aggressive than what passes as feminism these days. I don’t think that it was necessarily a bad thing. “Spice” by the Spice Girls was released in 1996 when I was 6 years old. For a kid that had never heard of feminism at the time, their message of “girl power” (even though it was manufactured) was one that I found really inspiring. I was the perfect age to absorb it all!

spicegirls

Loads of other examples can be found outside of the pop genre. If you dig a little bit deeper into more niche genres, riot grrl bands such as Babes in Toyland, L7, Bikini Kill were all sources of inspiration for me and made me feel proud to be a girl. In a society where I already felt that I didn’t really belong, it made me feel alright with being different and it has made me stronger for it.

babesintoylandGrunge was a safe place for feminists and girl bands in the late 80s and early 90s because it was easy to pick up and play – just like punk rock! It didn’t matter about musical prowess (though some are really skilled players), what was important was the message – and girls were angry. Really fucking angry.

In the late 70s, second wave feminists coined the term “rape culture” to describe the way that society blamed victims of sexual assault whilst simultaneously normalising male sexual violence against women. Most women, in their lifetimes, have experienced an uncomfortable scenario were sex may not have been entirely consensual – the unlucky ones are outright abused, chewed up and spit out.

I would say that this is term is still relevant today. With the advent of disposable digital media sharing apps such as Snapchat, we are seeing teenage boys demanding nudes from their pre-pubescent girlfriends and slut-shaming on the internet. Young girls are pressured to do this because they want to be seen as grown ups – and I’m sure boys have no problem taking advantage of that.

Even my parents, being Korean and all, used to hate how I used to dress and we’d get into huge arguments about the length of my skirts. Now that I’ve grown up and experienced the world somewhat, I started thinking about how wrong that was! Why is it that the mainstream media (and therefore most people) point their fingers at the victims and accuse them of dressing provocatively? Women should not be afraid of walking down the road regardless of how they are dressed.

I believe this is because of the sense of entitlement that people seem to have towards women’s bodies. They see half naked bodies and boobs all the time. Porn, music videos and this bullshit post-feminism that we are seeing today make it even more acceptable for women to be seen gyrating on TV. Young girls are being brought up around this idea that they are only valued if they are on their knees and naked.

Furthermore, it doesn’t matter at all how you are dressed in my experience. I’ve had cat calls and abuse from white van men with a full face of make up / without make up / dressed up / dressed down…etc. It is not what women are wearing, it is purely the fact that you are a girl – nothing more, nothing less.

Many “non-feminists” would argue, that in the UK, that women in society have reached a pleasant equilibrium. I would say the complete opposite. Women are now expected to work full or part-time whilst still being largely responsible for child-rearing and running the household. Even my partner, though we are more equal than most couples, is guilty of letting me run around after him picking up his socks. Why is it that no man has EVER done that for me? Anyway, I digress….

Fast forward to today and we have Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj as the poster children for post-feminism. Clearly, their management has a testosterone fuelled agenda. It seems to me (though it could just be that I have a chip on my shoulder), that the music industry is trying with all its might to undo all the progress that has been made. If you think that post-feminism is a movement started by women, then you are very naive indeed.

feminism

“What’s the big deal? Sex sells!” – is the industry stand point on this matter. However, I would argue that it is precisely BECAUSE music has the power to change the attitudes of each successive generation, that the major record companies, as a whole, are not being responsible enough. With great power, comes great responsibility (HAHAHAHAHA – *cough* sorry, we are talking about the music industry here. The most responsible of all industries lol)

I can’t begrudge an independent artist trying to carve a career out for themselves by waggling their bottoms in front of people but there are millions swilling around in the record label coffers (no matter how much they keep moaning that record sales are low – they are STILL making loads of money). There is no excuse for them and they are investing it into acts and artists that are, frankly, an embarrassment.

In conclusion, I will only call myself a post-feminist in a post-patriarchal society – our work here is not yet finished. Put your arse away, love.

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