If you follow Good because Danish, you know that we mostly write about things strictly connected to music, such as new albums and concerts. But that is about to change. We want to look at the bigger picture of the music industry and touch the topics we are interested in or – as it is in this case – outraged by.
Women in the music industry
This passing year, I read stories about a Lydmor concert review, which focused mostly on her see-through outfit. Recently, a respectable Danish daily newsletter published a headline underlining that “skinny” Kill J performed with a project of techno theatre (the title was changed eventually). It made me think – how often do journalists cover the stories differently, based on the gender of the artist? And why do they automatically prioritise the appearance over the music if the artist is female? In the end, I asked myself – how often do I let this get to me? How does it define my work and my approach when running Good because Danish? I thought of it all and… I got pissed.
It’s time to notice things as they happen
I am a 31-year-old woman who has had a special attachment to the music world for a long time. I briefly worked at a concert agency, studied journalism and wrote about music for different media. For almost 9 years I have been running Good because Danish. This project gave me a chance to get in touch not only with the amazing musicians and producers but also with booking agents, managers, PR specialists, promoters and music journalists. There is a lot of people with a lot of different roles connected to music in this world. I discovered with time that most of them are men. I didn’t really give it much thought at first, it’s just how it is. But, the more I was involved in communication and work with people through Good because Danish, the more I started to realise why. Moreover, I realised how hard it can be for women to be noticed and appreciated for their professionalism and artistic value they bring with their work. To make matters worse, women themselves may underestimate their value and impact. Many times I felt patronized by male colleagues of various professions, and I thought it was because I am worse or weaker. Sometimes I felt I didn’t “look” professional enough . It was all based on one fact. I am a woman.
Struggling with your self-confidence and stereotypes is bad enough. But when those issues are intensified by the media, I think we all should pay attention.
Is it still a “Barbie World” we live in?
It is not uncommon for musicians to use visuals as a part of their act. But why does it suddenly become more important when women do it? I feel like people concentrate so much more on the visual aspect when there is a female musician. And if her looks are used to underline the musical concept, the latter often gets overshadowed by the former. I ask myself then – does it really matter how the artist looks like? I learnt long ago to always start by listening to the music and later watch the videos or read about the musicians. That way, the music speaks first. Maybe some people should do the same.
I wondered then: do we really still live in a “Barbie World” where women should just look pretty, speak about light topics, smile and create a nice background for men? Seriously? In almost 2020? And do women still need to explain themselves, defend themselves and fight battles to be judged by their work, creativity and talent?
Just to be clear – this text isn’t an attempt to say all men are monsters. It is just a way to release frustration. I am frustrated by how we shape the language and the way we write, read and think about women in music. When was the last time you read a concert review which judged how a male artist was dressed? When did you last see a headline about “skinny male artists delivering a show”? Do you see my point? This has to change!
Little things matter
In the passing year, there were several cases, especially in Denmark, where an incredibly talented, creative and hard-working female artist was reduced to just a “nice thing” on stage. They were judged by their looks, weight and costumes, not by their music. I read about these stories and thought “I’m too small to make a stand” or “I would like to say something, but I have no right to speak about these matters“. Now I got to the point where I am just angry.
And you can read this and say, “she’s overreacting”, “it wasn’t so bad”, “that was not the point of those articles”. You can say that paying attention to the appearance isn’t all bad. And it really isn’t. But when we let the little things slide, they pile up and inevitably turn into a mess. Every time we say “it’s not a big deal” we let it fester and shape the way we perceive the music industry with the men and women in it. It affects the way I see myself as a woman in this area of work and passion. And I doubt I am the only one devaluing myself because of those little things, those little comments that we all brush off.
Let’s take women in music seriously, shall we?
I spent a long time doubting if this text should even go online. But here’s another thing: why do women always have to stay calm and back up their point with data? Why do we have to provide hard evidence to avoid being dismissed as hysterical? And I figured, all in all, we all need to vent sometimes. So, here I am, venting and trying to underline: comments focused on the wrong things in the performance of female artists matter. And they cause damage.
I don’t think that men are the enemies of women and want to use or belittle us. I also don’t think that the gender issue has to be the main subject in music at all. It should be just music. It should be the projects we all work on, it should be our talent and dedication. It should be our ability to collaborate and achieve the goals we want to achieve. So, in the end, I urge all of you: Let’s take everyone in music seriously. Shall we?