Misogyny in the Music Industry:
Tired Discussions for Needed Change
'We can’t change the past, but we can change the narrative for the future': Meet the people tackling misogyny in music
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In 2022, with claims of “wokeism” being the apparent overriding approach to humanity, discussions about the prevalence of misogyny in our society seems like it would be out of place. But unfortunately, nothing much has changed, both in a general sense, and in terms of the ever-present misogyny that is rife within the music industry and all walks of life.
Fighting for an end to patriarchal values within the music business is certainly a road well trodden, but thanks to the tireless efforts of strong women across the country, there’s still hope in a future where humanity will be finally awake, and misogyny is left as nothing more but a forgotten nightmare. For now though, there's still much work to be done in tackling both the minor and major misogynistic aggressions within the industry, as well as its systematic bias towards minorities.
A recent study by the Musicians Union revealed that sexual harrasment is rampant within the industry, effecting executives, artists and fans of female and non-binary gender identities. Moreover, almost half (48%) of industry workers have experienced sexual harassment. A further 58% of members have witnessed such behaviours, yet these cases are severely underreported, due to a culture and fear of not being believed or taken seriously.
One individual fighting for change, for both the safety of minorities and for a more diverse future, is Jasmine Hodge, who works as Head of Promotions at The Music Federation and as the founder of Fangrrl promotions company. Described as someone who treats everyday like International Women’s Day, Jasmine seeks to rewrite the narrative that’s been thrusted upon women working in the industry and beyond.
Her latest project arrives in the form of a festival, which she is organising to raise money for women's safety organisation Reclaim These Streets. In February, she released New Moons XVI, a new charity compilation album showcasing some of the “industry's best female, LQBTQ+ and non-binary talent”, including Amyl & The Sniffers, Nova Twins, Deap Vally, KT Tunstall and more. The festival, which is due to take place in June across multiple London venues, is an extension of this project.
Jasmine has additionally organised for gig safety initiative Girls Against along with Strut Safe to appear at the event, to “help promote the message of safe spaces and the importance of looking after each other at gigs.”
It will also be an opportunity to promote The Music Federation’s safe space policy, which was created alongside the two charities. As Jasmine explains, the policy is a way of looking after atteendes before the show, during, and after, using a variety of infrastructures, which include “male and female identifying security guards for searching, allocated safety representatives and an online reporting system”.
The latter will encourage gig-goers to report any harassment they might have experienced, which is a problem in itself. In fact, according to Safe Spaces Now, only 2%-3% of cases are reported to the police. These experiences have also been noted to sadly discourage women from attending live music events, as well as have an impact on their mental health.
“Signposting is the most important thing you can do because it's actually a lot easier to prevent something than it is to actually catch a perpetrator once something's happened” explains Jasmine. “The posters around venues saying that this is a zero tolerance area, can actually deter people from doing things.”
Discussing the message that they’ll be promoting at the festival, Anna Cowan of Girls Against says, “We want to bring the message that you deserve to feel safe and have fun. You deserve to have a good night regardless of who you are. Safety can often feel like a boring conversation, but it's so necessary. Music has such a strong sense of community, and we want to keep that up when you're in a music venue or gig.”
Another industry executive hungry for change is Trix Management founder Kirsty Macgregor, who, like Jasmine, is working to shift the narrative and take the power back from misogynists. Kirsty founded the diversity-focused Trix Management in 2020, following too many tiresome experiences working around “sinister” men who failed to take her seriously or recognise female talent.
“The first phrase you hear in the industry is that it’s an old white boys club, which is still so standard. My first experience in having a full time employed job was with all men” Kirsty says.
According to new research, there is a distinct lack of representation within various sectors of the industry. In fact, across 70 major and independent music companies, just 13.9% of top executives identified as women, with 4.2% of roles taken up by POCs. This uneven dynamic is extended into festival line ups too, with research showing that just 21% of all artists performing at major UK festivals in 2021 were women.
Kirsty believes that unrooting misogyny within the business, from problems relating to representation, sexual assault and ill-treatment starts at school. “The thing we need to be focusing on in regards to music and the wider picture is education. We need to educate these boys at a young age that they shouldn't be treating women in a certain way.”
While Jasmine adds, “there is no excuse to not educate yourself because there is so much online, and just from chatting to people around you. You can learn so much about other people's experiences. And just because it doesn't directly affect you doesn't mean it doesn't exist.”
Of course, discussions such as this are indeed tiring, especially when we see little improvement being made. However, Jasmine is keen to stress that although “we can’t change the past, we can change the narrative for the future”. She continues, “I think the most important thing is to keep conversations happening, until having these uncomfortable discussions aren't uncomfortable anymore.”
Perhaps with more women like Jasmine leading the way, along with the numerous others working endlessly to put an end to misogyny in the music industry, we’ll be seeing drastic change before we know it.
Photo credit: unsplash.com
Employed To Serve @ Download Festival '21: Photo credit: Elizabeth Scarlett