Perhaps you were aware of that. There is just a certain point in your 20s when, as you explain something about GCSEs with your Young Person understanding , you realise actually that was a while ago and you have no idea what the pokemon you’re talking about. When I was at school there was no Facebook and texting was strictly textual.
It seems some music PRs fear any opinion expressed by former X Factor contestant Ella Henderson might cause quite the ruckus. The Telegraph’s Women’s Editor Emma Barnett wrote about her odd telephone interview experience with Henderson: “Every time I asked her a question, the line sounded like it went dead, as if someone seemed to silence the phone. There would be a pause and then a carefully constructed answer would be delivered by a very polite and inoffensive Ella.” I used to work in PR and these interviews usually involve getting on with your work with a phone propped betwixt ear and shoulder trying not to breathe too heavily. Unless of course I was doing PR wrong.
Barnett asked if Henderson considered herself a feminist: “Big mistake. Suddenly a gruff man’s voice out of nowhere growled: ‘She’s not answering that.’ Said aggressive man when asked who the hell he was simply replied: ‘Her PR’.”
Barnett wondered if it was because feminism is considered a dirty word in pop. I don’t think it is that, so much as we are far more used to silencing young women that listening to them. Which means there’s no recent precedent on how to deal (or PR) a young woman with Something to Say instead of being like a Barbie doll.
What does that say about the industry's esteem in young women?
When I worked in music PR I went through a girl band’s media info sheets. Instead of answering the age question with a number, one band member had filled in ‘whatever the label wants it to be’. That should display some form of meek stupidity but it’s actually a pretty shrewd move in the current pop world. Don’t ask, don’t tell.
The question is, therefore, not so much ‘why is feminism a dirty word in pop?’ but why is a girl having an opinion thought to be so dangerous? By telling someone they don’t have anything to say you are telling them they are not very important. What would happen if teenage girls thought the content of their mind was both interesting and important?
While Henderson was being silenced by her PR over a question of feminism, at New Jersey high school Queen of Peace, girls were asked to take a No Cursing pledge. It is a co-ed Catholic school but only girls were requested to take the no swearing pledge in the hope they will rub off on the boys. Or something. “Teachers said they hoped that if the girls focused on cleaning up their speech on campus for a month, their improved manners would take hold and rub off on the boys”. I may have misinterpreted.
In Kashmir the award winning all girl rock band, Pragaash, have received rape and death threats forcing them to cancel live shows. Today they announced, after a fatwa was issued, that they would no longer play.
Teenage girls? You should be angry.