Misogyny Still Defines the Music Industry in 2021

Content Disclaimer: This article was included in our print issue “Spiking Awareness”. It may contain content that readers may be uncomfortable with.

Written by Emily Johnston.

Women have undoubtedly been at the forefront of popular music this year. With more music from female and non-binary artists, as well as queer and minority acts than ever before, the music industry is certainly embracing more diversity.

There have been major new releases from Lorde, Taylor Swift, Snail Mail, Clairo, Billie Eilish, and Doja Cat to name a few. These artists have been plastered on social media and in print and topped the charts. Even in male-dominated genres like RnB and hip-hop, artists like Jorja Smith, SZA, and Little Simz have propelled the notion of female power into these realms. But misogyny remains pervasive.

Despite the lyrics focused on empowering women, male production continues to prevail. And while you can never go wrong with a feminist anthem, it makes you ruminate on the company they were written about.

The rise of Riot Grrrl in the ’90s was a central part of third wave feminism and saw minority genres at the forefront of shows. It allowed people to express themselves in a safer intersectional space, as white cis men did all the time. The songs often addressed issues such as rape, domestic violence, sexuality, racism, misogyny, patriarchy, classism, anarchism, and women’s empowerment. Women literally cry out about their mistreatment and the question remains: who is listening to them?

In a climate of intense misogyny and crimes against women, the music industry is not doing enough to cope. Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is arguably one of the most controversial tracks of the 2010s. From lyrics that many interpret as wildly non-consensual and advocating rape culture, to the clip that many see as objectifying women’s bodies, “Blurred Lines” is aimed at a sexist society.

Earlier this month, Emily ratajkowski, one of the models in the clip, accused Thicke of sexually assaulting her while filming. This incident was validated by director Diane Martel. Even Pharrell Williams, who collaborated on it, has himself said how embarrassed he is by the songs and their lyrics.

In March 2021, during the week marked by Mother’s Sunday and International Women’s Day, fears for women’s safety soared exponentially. A report by UN Women UK found that 97% of women aged 18-24 have experienced sexual harassment, and 96% did not report these situations because they believed it would not change anything. In addition, nearly 200 incidents of alcohol consumption have been reported to the UK Police Force in the past two months. These reports do not include some form of injection, and frankly very little has been done to cope with this increase.

Media attention has been drawn to this exponential increase due to campaigns such as the recent “Girls Night In” campaign which saw a nationwide boycott of clubs and venues. Hopefully this is a step towards putting in place much more serious legal measures. Ultimately, one has to hope for the perpetuation of a healthier culture that can inherently unlearn this highly dangerous and sexist behavior. Despite the fact that doping is a criminal offense, it is rarely properly prosecuted. This is primarily due to the fact that women do not want to come forward and report it to the police. But secondly, this is because it is incredibly difficult to prove and track offenders.

Girls Against is a brilliant organization that seeks to create a conversation about the misogyny and sexual assault of young women in the music industry. They also offer a network of support to victims in sharing and recovering from their experiences. This is an example of the tremendous achievements made by women in the music industry.

While overall 2021 has been a very successful year for women in the music industry, it has also been a tragic year for women and non-binary people as a whole. He reaffirmed that misogyny and discrimination against sexual minorities remain rife and are closely linked to lyrics that strongly influence the music industry.

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