TW: Sexual abuse, harassment, sexism
2020 is a not-so-hot mess.
Aside from the pandemic, we’re existing in the age of #MeToo, gender pay gaps, a rise in domestic violence towards women, and rampant abusers in positions of power. It’s time to start addressing the injustices that are happening all around us. This includes calling out sexism and misogyny in the music industry.
Why is sexism in the music industry being swept under the carpet?
An article by Marie Claire investigating the music industry, revealed that pop music alone is ‘a £4 billion-a-year business in which men hold 67.8 per cent of the jobs, and the vast majority of positions of power’. It’s slightly less surprising, then, that when it comes to the music industry, women often don’t get a look-in. This is especially when it comes to being credited for their work, as female and feminine-identified artists only account for 17% of the charts.
So, surely women just aren’t making as much music as men?
This would appear so, but if frequent chart-topper The 1975 are anything to go by, then the answer may lie elsewhere. A lack of acknowledgement is happening on a larger scale, too. From 2013-2020, women only comprised 2% of Grammy nominees for Producer of the Year, and 7.6% of nominees for Album of the Year. In the 2020 Grammys, men received more than twice the amount of awards as women.
Among these nominees is the controversial producer Lukasz Gottwald, also known as Dr. Luke. Gottwald came under fire in 2016, after singer Kesha initiated a series of unsuccessful lawsuits against him for sexual assault and abuse. As if this ordeal wasn’t traumatic enough for her, Kesha also experienced a string of online hate that explicitly accused her of making false claims to seek attention.
Misogyny in the music industry has allowed Gottwald to keep his prosperous career despite the avalanche of evidence against him. This isn’t an isolated incident either. Other named abusers like Chris Brown, BØRNS and 6ix9ine still maintain thriving music careers, despite being ‘held accountable’ for their actions.
Undeterred, Kesha clapped back in the bravest way possible, releasing ‘Praying’ in 2017. ‘Praying’ is a rip-roaring power ballad about letting go (which Kesha certainly did for this track). A certified anthem, the song digresses away from the cheesy club music that Kesha is best known for. Piano floats in amongst hopeful synths and crisp, stripped-back production that oozes passion. The climax of the track lies in the final poignant chorus, where Kesha’s flawless vocals surge forward to an earth-shattering F6, amongst a triumphant choir. This melodic burst rings, as she sighs, breathless, ‘I hope you find your peace / Fallin’ on your knees / Praying’ and the song concludes.
Kesha demonstrates that it’s not all doom and gloom. As feminist discourse is coming to the forefront, we’re seeing an increase of support for women in music. The 1975, for example, refused to play music festivals with majority male line ups that inspired other artists to do the same. Organisations and events championing women in music are popping up everywhere. Allegations against men are finally being taken seriously, including R Kelly and Harvey Weinstein, being arrested and imprisoned for their sexual assault crimes.
Misogyny in the music industry is surviving because not enough people are doing enough to counter it. Until we sufficiently address and combat sexism, women and feminine-identified people will continue being underpaid, oppressed, and discredited.
Time can bring change, but only when partnered with discussion.