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Musogyny: F-minus-feminism

Everyone knows it’s a man’s world out there (thanks James Brown), but there is none more so than the big bad world of music. From Miley’s twerking to Sinead’s slut shaming, these last months have seen an upward trajectory in the debate around gender issues within music. Rest assured that we here at Planet Notion will be keeping a keen eye on all things sexism. 

In all the excitement for the pending four-day extended party, it may have been off the radar but this week Britain was officially declared to have a more sexist culture than other countries, including Italy, Algeria, Bosnia, Azerbaijan and India.

The internationally delivered criticism on Britain was the result of a 16-day fact finding mission and sexism report by the UN, in which special rapporteur on violence to women, Rashida Manjoo, visited several countries and found that Britain inherently promoted a “boys’ club sexist culture”.

Whilst The Daily Mail went full swing on shaming other nation’s track histories  on their treatment of women, the rest of us separated the argument from ‘us and them’, and gave some thought to why we got an F minus in feminism and what makes a sexist culture.

Before the seas of ‘women still have it better in Britain than most societies’ arguments cascade in, underlying it all, the UN report made it clear there are still issues that exist where attitudes towards women seem liberal.

It was interesting to read that the author, South African college professor Rashida Manjoo, justified all the Brit shaming with a particular concern that there is shared sexualisation of women in our media, misogynistic attitudes deep within our advertising and a continual failure to respond effectively to female survivors of violence.

After her brief observation of different cultures and their media, she concluded that in Britain’s press there uniquely existed “negative and over-sexualised portrayals of women” and a “marketisation of their bodies”.

You know what? Amongst the backlash that came her way, fair play to her for pointing out that these juxtapositions occur in Britain alongside our right to vote, Jane Austen being on our independently earned bank notes and our entitlement to maternity leave.

When you look closely, it is likely that the music industry should shoulder some of the responsibility for some of the problems or is at least admit to being a hot bed for them. It’s only taken a year of outbursts from the likes of Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry and Charlotte Church to point its issues before feminism came to the forefront of our agenda again.

All of the last year’s ‘insider exposes’ from women within the music industry, from Emily Gonneau’s Midem blog on her experiences of sexism as a music manager in France to Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon’s view on misogyny in rock and roll, have been rooted in a situation where there was an unhealthy misunderstanding of women and how they should be treated.

The frequent presence of these stories in the press is also sadly indicative that these things, despite all the education, are widespread.

Yes, things are certainly starting to change slowly, and more people than ever have awareness of feminism, but there is no point in not acknowledging the leftover flaws of our sexist bad habits when offered our way.

So when the UN gives us a ‘must do better’ school report on the malpractices they think are prevalent, that should be a time to continue the discussion about how we are falling behind in the sexism stakes. It’s not the time to talk about what ground we’ve gained and what grades everyone else got.

- Sarah Joy

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