Presented by Kenickie band member turned presenter Lauren Laverne (who manages to frustrate me and crack me up in equal measure) the programme announced its intention to explore why, while six of the biggest selling albums of the past decade were by women but men still out number women in the singles chart. They also continue to hold the fort on all other aspects of the music industry, producing, DJ-ing, PR-ing etc. Several women from the music industry were invited to discuss this on the programme.
As both a woman and an ex music industry person I can confirm that there is sexism in the music business. As there is in any business. Racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia etc etc creeps in everywhere and it is very hard to call out and therefore deal with for fear of being accused of 'whingeing'. Surely if we are good at our job and diligent then we're gonna make it after all! no matter what.
However it is frustrating when you are working just as hard, if not harder (let's go with just as hard, because sometimes I think it is unhelpful to paint minorities as some kind of tragic Cinderella types instead of, y'know, human beings who can be crap and/or brilliant) and getting overlooked due to assumptions. In the music industry, the behind the scenes music industry, the assumption is that women won't have as much knowledge or as good a music taste as their fellow music men.
The real and peculiar issue is why do we appear to be treating these young pop stars as would-be, or should-be maternal figures?
And you know what? I let it get me down. Being constantly undervalued tends not to act as a motivational tool. Eve Barlow, deputy editor of the NME noted the lack of women managers, directors and producers if there were more of them would there be the kind of machine that was behind the current fuss-making pop video Wrecking Ball? Or would we be able to comfortably attribute more agency to Miley Cyrus?
Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin spoke of how feminism came to her before music due to her work at a rape crisis centre. Frustrated by the backlash against feminism in the early 1990s and being told that feminism was no longer relevant Hanna took to the stage and helped start the grrrl revolution. The reason Kathleen Hanna chose to go into music was because she had a message to put out there of feminism, which of course hugely affected the work and image she put out there.
Music journalist Jacqueline Springer hit the nail on the head with an unlicked hammer (Wrecking Ball joke) however when she pointed out that there is not some established sisterhood. Some of these women are perfectly happy to photograph, film and record a woman pop star in nowt but her pants. Some aren't, but they all deserve a voice.
The question is not, perhaps, if the scantily clad woman pop star is a problem but why do we have a problem with the scantily clad pop star? The real and peculiar issue is why do we appear to be treating these young pop stars as would-be, or should-be maternal figures? An odd mother/child dichotomy. As Kathleen Hanna pointed out, Justin Timberlake is never asked about being a role model.