Written by Erin Lobner. Media by Paige Lunde.
As progressive as the entertainment industry can be, there’s one thing that is still a huge problem: the way we talk about female musicians. Many famous artists are asked questions like “What is it like to be a woman in the music industry?” or “What is it like to be the only girl in the band?” simply because of their sex.
There are many stories of blatant sexism that these musicians have experienced, from receiving lots of unwanted “advice” to being groped. Erika Forster of the band Au Revoir Simone told Buzzfeed, “Since the early days of our band we experienced a lot of, ‘Are you the merch girls?’ and being sternly told that we weren’t allowed access somewhere by men, or sometimes women, who assumed we were the girlfriends or groupies.”
Still, many female musicians have fierce supporters backing them. The Papyrus’ Paige Lunde asked Greenville College students about their favorite female artists, and the responses reflected the diverse interests on campus.
You might have noticed that none of the leading names in music (like Beyonce or Taylor Swift) made the list. Instead, students mentioned artists like BC Jean, Hatsune Miku, and Amber Liu. While some of these women are pretty underrated, they’ve still made amazing contributions to the industry.
For instance, take a look at Lacey Sturm. She was one of the founders of the Christian rock band Flyleaf. She left the band in 2012, and said in her statement, “I understand that, for me, living life to the fullest in this season means to step down as the lead singer for Flyleaf.” After a break, she started a solo career and just released a new album, “Life Screams,” at the beginning of 2016. On top of all that, she wrote two books about powerful events in her life and the impact that Christ has.
Others on our list of favorite female musicians have directly spoken out against sexism. Paramore’s Hayley Williams discussed some of her personal experiences with sexism in an interview with Rolling Stone. Even when she was only 16, older men would harass her. She recalled playing at a bar in Philadelphia and having an audience member repeatedly yell at her to take off her shirt. She said, “By the fifth or sixth time, I realized that I’m the one with the microphone. I’ve got power here. I don’t have to be quiet. Sometimes there’s strength in letting your actions speak for you, but in this moment I was like, “I don’t have to take this.”
In that particular event, Williams’ harasser was thrown out of the bar and that was the end of it. Unfortunately, some famous women aren’t as lucky. In the video, Christina Grimmie’s journey from starting her YouTube channel to her 3rd place victory on The Voice were mentioned. But just when her career was beginning to take off, she was shot and killed by a man who was reportedly obsessed with her. Obviously, not every sexist person is capable of such an act, but we can’t ignore the fact that we have created a culture that ignores the warning signs and allows women to be objectified in such a blatant way.
So while we can, and should, celebrate our favorite female musicians, let’s not forget the horrible behaviors they are often subjected to. We can speak up when we hear others saying sexist or misogynstic things about them, doing a small part to help the culture that’s been created. Instead of objectifying these women because of their sex, let’s take a stand and support them for their talents and music.