No Girls Allowed- The Boys Club of the Music Industry.

As a woman you have to explain every single move you make. You were assaulted? Well what were you wearing? He hit you? Why didn’t you just leave then? You don’t want children? Won’t you be unfulfilled? You slept with how many people? Don’t you think that’s a little whore-ish? In the music industry they are all the more scrutinized. When Miley Cyrus released Wrecking Ball Sinéad O’Conner took to her personal blog to express her concern, “I repeat, you have enough talent that you don’t need to let the music business make a prostitute of you. You shouldn’t let them make a fool of you either. Don’t think for a moment that any of them give a flying f*** about you. They’re there for the money … we’re there for the music. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. The sooner a young lady gets to know that, the sooner she can be REALLY in control.” To which the embattled pop star responded via social media with a screen grab of O’Conner’s Twitter feed in 2012 where the Irish performer is seeking psychiatric care.

Tanya Rad, of On Air with Ryan Seacrest works with many women and many stars and frequently posts photos with them on her personal Instagram using the hashtag ’empowered women, empower women.’ A mantra I have personally adopted. The music industry, the entertainment industry more accurately, however is a little less progressed. Male artists with large female followings are notoriously written off as some how less than. But why? Why is having me, an educated, young female as a fan a negative? And why is it that I am expected to be a fan of Arianna Grande and Demi Lovato but when I say I know every word to 85% of Eminem’s discography people think I’m kidding. Why is the fact that I host a pop-punk format radio show some how laughable?

As the traditional music industry is collapsing it’s becoming more realistic for women to be able to create and own their ideas, but it’s still a boys club. Women who hang out with artists are groupies while men must be involved in the industry. If I had a dime for every time an assistant, publicist, stylist or make up artist or any other female involved with a male artist’s career, got trashed in the tabloids and on social media as the “new fling” or “rumored girlfriend” I’d be able to pay off my student loans in a snap. While male artists have no privacy, females involved with them and female artists themselves have no self. Halsey has said it a thousand times, critiqued magazines and other interviews for naming the male artists she’s connected to before they name her, the person being interviewed. She becomes the act associated with Twenty One Pilots and Justin Bieber, hanging out with Matty of the 1975 and posing with Michael and Luke from 5 Seconds of Summer, instead of the artist who could, in my opinion, lead the next Riot Grrrl movement.

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called ‘The Punk Singer.’  The film was all about Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of Bikini Kill a feminist motivated, 90% female, punk band from the time of Hole and Nirvana.  Angry, smart females took up arms in the form of music and literature and thus formed the Riot Grrrl movement, fronted by bands like Bikini Kill. In an early zine released from the movement they explained the reasoning behind it “because I believe with my wholeheartmindbody [sic] that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will, change the world for real.”  And if we taught girls that instead of creating and sometimes encouraging the growing behavior of objectifying yourself before someone else can then girls absolutely would change the world for real.

While male artists joke and are written with ‘devilish grins’ in magazine articles as they divulge the secrets of post show antics with multiple girls a night, Taylor Swift is called a slut for her dating habits. Calum Hood of 5 Seconds of Summer gained infamy and publicity for his band when a snapchat video of him fully exposed, which he’d taken himself, leaked but Jennifer Lawrence and Vanessa Hudgens? They should not have ever taken photos like that and what were they thinking!? We need more Kathleen Hanna’s, we need to stop making women in music second class citizens, my gender has nothing to do with my value as a fan or as an artist. We need to stop allowing the music industry to pimp out female artists only to slut shame them for what they’ve been asked to do. And we need to stop applauding the objectification of women in the media, in the songs we hear on the radio and in the interviews done with our favorite bands. I am a well versed music junkie and if the opportunity presented itself you can bet I would gladly be the name next to Harry Styles’ in the headlines, but I am also smart, and driven, and plan on making my name as known as anyone else’s in this industry and I won’t compromise for that because I am a female. I shouldn’t have to, and we shouldn’t be asking that. Women in this industry, at all levels, in all facets are incredibly smart and strong and talented. There is so much more to talk about with us than bust sizes and who’s slept with who. It’s nearly 2016 and it’s time for a real change.

[Image from The Odyssey Online]

A Case Study on Censorship – Not Ready to Make Nice (Song of the Week)

Does censorship still exist? You’d say no, right? But let’s look at the Dixie Chicks, and  then I’ll ask you again.

On March 10, 2003, the Dixie Chicks were on the opening date of their ‘Top of the World’ tour in London, England, just days before the initial invasion of Iraq when lead singer Natalie Maines told the crowd, “Just so you know, we’re ashamedthe president of the United States is from Texas” about President Bush. The trio finished their tour but were essentially banished from mainstream country music in the United States and virtually censored for three full years as they faced public and media scrutiny following the incident, including threats of physical harm and death wishes

In 2006 they release ‘Taking the Long Road’ which included ‘Not Ready to Make Nice’with lyrics such as “how in the world could the words that I said send somebody so over the edge that they’d right me a letter saying I better shut up and sing or my life will be over?”

The Dixie Chicks were effectively censored in 2003, a censorship which stood in the United States until 2016 when they announced a State Fair circuit, but will likely never release or perform in the States in the same capacity as before their comments on Bush.

So I ask again, does censorship still exist? And what are you willing to do if it does?

The Lost Week

I have an anxiety disorder; one that sometimes feels like an elephant sitting on my ribs and sometimes like a needle in one lung slowly but surely letting out all the air. Music has always been my saving grace – whether through a dance routine I’d poured my soul into or driving through the rain with the correct, most fitting genre playing as loud as possible in the background (sorry mom & dad.) It’s usually under control, flare up here, or there, I struggle going into social situations, or doing things for the first time. Interactions with people I don’t know make my blood burn but for the most part, it’s under control.

It was under control, until 1 artist who I watched grow and engage with fans all over the globe was gunned down by a fan; until 49 people who just wanted to let loose and have good time in a club, Pulse Night Club – one of many- that could be cited as the ground upon which modern pop was born, were killed. Suddenly my saving grace, the entity I thought was going to save the world was wrapped into something that terrified me, that triggered something for me that left me too anxious to get on a subway or to leave my apartment. Suddenly the thing I loved more than most was tied to something horrific- if the music had sounded different in Pulse maybe the patrons would have been able to identify gun shots earlier. If the internet hadn’t created the idea that we’re entitled to the acts we love maybe Christina Grimmie would still be making music.

It took me the entirety of last week to sort out where music ended and tragedy began… that’s why Unhinged is your song of the week this week. Because, I still haven’t fully sorted it out yet, because to take Jonas’ lyrics literally ‘right now my head isn’t screwed on right.’ Because, politically I’m confused by the American people’s ability to take this in stride, by the ability of certain people to try to gain something from this senseless act of violence, on of many – too many in this country. I’m confused that we’re not rioting in the streets and demanding a change. The fact that the statistics about gun violence in the country continue to grow higher and higher and no one has acted. I’m confused, my heart hurts for the families and communities in pain, and for the loss of belief that music will save us. But it can heal us – that much I know from experience.

-God Bless-

xx Madison

My Other Venture

So, when I’m not writing here I’m spending a lot of my time working on articles that I’m lucky enough to have featured on The Odyssey alongside some AMAZING writers from my school and others all over the country. This week, the two collide in my article about JLO’s newest track check it out here!

Meet you back here on Friday for more new music!

#FreeKesha: An Update and a Saddening Double Standard

I love the entertainment industry. I have spent my entire life planning on being involved in it, whether that was as the next Mimi in the RENT remake I’m still hoping will happen in my lifetime, striving for a career like Giuliana Rancic’s, or spending my weekends planning publicity releases for local artists in Iowa as I’m working with my first label. This arena is the only one I’ve wanted to work in. But today, I’m heartsick and a little disgusted by the industry I’ve spent my life in a love affair with.

Months ago I brought you information about Kesha’s legal battle with her label Sony and her producer Dr. Luke, this past week a judge ruled that Kesha cannot get out of her contract and must continue working with Dr. Luke to fulfill said contract, providing Sony 6 more albums. I’m so disappointed in this ruling, and the implications for victims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. However, I believe that mass media has done it’s part to cover this story and the reactions of the entertainment community, in articles like this one, this one and this one.

This post however will be my reaction specifically to the behavior of fans surrounding Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift’s responses to the verdict and the situation at hand.

demi-lovato-taylor-swift-donation

Demi Lovato has been incredibly vocal on issues like the ones surrounding the Kesha case. Taylor Swift on the other hand opted for a more silent approach, donating 250K to Kesha’s cause, which prompted an unprecedented wave of definitions of feminism, determined solely by how Taylor Swift supports Kesha and how Demi does not. And rather than ramble on for 500 more words let me get to my point. This issue, Kesha’s assault and the legal case surrounding it, is not Taylor Swift or Demi Lovato’s platform to decide what a “real” feminist is. This is not an arena for fans of one or the other to decide what the “right” support for Kesha looks like. This is not the time to pit woman against woman in the most cliched ways.

This is not about any one besides Kesha. This is about the fact that Chris Brown beat Rihanna, and the entire world knew about it and his career has not suffered. This is about the fact that Kesha, a young woman who was likely taken advantage of by a male in an authority position, having her livelihood stripped away and her reputation pummeled in the press as this trial wages on. This is about the ugly double standard that we’re all coming face to face with. This is NOT yours, mine or ours to make about our political or personal definitions of feminism, support or righteousness, and the sooner we figure that out, the sooner we as human beings capable of compassion and empathy can come together and find a way to support victims of assault; to hold perpetrators of crime accountable for their actions.

I stand with Kesha because this isn’t about who can write the biggest check. This is about power used to take advantage vulnerable women trying to make it in a historically male dominated industry.

 

 

“B**** Is An Endearing Term” [Explicit Content]

Yes, you read that title correctly. That would be the excuse mr. Kanye West gave for why his Taylor Swift lyric in new song ‘Famous’ is not a diss at all. After releasing the name of his forthcoming album (for the third time) Kanye graced the ears of all the world with Famous, which includes the lyric ‘I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.’ Which, unsurprisingly was met with a lot of negative reactions. T. Swizzle’s brother Austin taped himself throwing away his Yeezy’s, and several members of Taylor Swifts girl squad made their opinions known as well. Even Katy Perry is being reported as calling the lyric ‘low class.’ So, Yeezus has done what he seems to do best; go on a Twitter rant in which he explained that, 1. he’s an artist so he gets to do what he wants. 2. Kim said it was okay, okay?! 3. It was Taylor’s idea…. obviously. and of course, 4. “Bitch is an endearing term in hip hop….”

Kanye, Kanye, Kanye what are we going to do with you? No comment as of the time of this writing from Taylor herself, who knows maybe it is all her idea and this is her hype up for a Grammy’s knock out [update, there was a knock out and I hope Kanye is icing those burns, check out Taylor’s acceptance speech for Album of the Year here.] Either way, with everyone around her reacting so negatively it’s hard to believe Kanye’s story. We’ll wait for Queen Swifty to respond, or to throw her own jabs on stage as she has done so well in the past.

[Image from Billboard.com via Kanye West Twitter]

Why Kanye Slut Shaming Amber Rose is the real issue in Wiz Khalifa Twitter Fight

I’ve talked about the sexism and exploitation of women in the music/entertainment industry at length on multiple posts so I will [try to] keep this short. If you’re a Twitter user you probably at least saw bits and pieces of Kanye’s cyber attack (and also complimentary critique) toward Wiz Khalifa last week, or at the very least you were one of the fortunate people to see Amber Rose’s response to Kanye, once again, slut shaming her. While Kanye, and many fans are up in arms about her dig at his sexuality, I’m here to remind everyone what the real issue here is. Slut Shaming, in any context, toward anyone, is not okay and should never be accepted or tolerated.

To be clear, Slut Shaming is a socially constructed stigma attached to women and girls (some men also but primarily females) who behave or are perceived to behave in ways that violate “traditional” expectations for female sexuality. Amber Rose has been front page news on many occasions, usually in relation to Wiz, Kanye, Tyga or the Kardashian/Jenner family; she’s warred (again over Twitter) with Khloé Kardashian over Tyga and Kylie’s relationship on a few occasions. And while being dubbed the “stripper who trapped” Wiz Khalifa doesn’t seem to phase her from day to day she’s become a strong advocate for women who are similarly slut shamed and have been blamed for their own assaults. She held a Slut Walk in LA and is photographed with a “strippers have feelings too” sign gettyimages-491161820.jpgand has been a proponent for “taking back slut” and other words used to describer her. Photographed here with friend Blac Chyna (now you see why there’s a Kylie Jenner Beef- Chyna is the mother of Tyga’s son) donning a body suit with words that have been thrown her way by musicians and media outlets alike. gty_486060876_75505602.jpg

Here’s the main issue, men like Kanye West get the okay from a variety of publics to do and say whatever they want. We laugh it off when he’s comparing himself to Jesus and claiming his upcoming album is “the album of the life” not just of the year, but if a woman did either of those things people would be up in arms. We don’t call men sluts, we don’t care that Channing Tatum used to be a stripper- heck we even made a movie franchise off that, but Amber Rose was and she’s branded “hoe” and “gold digger” forever? The fact of the matter is that words do hurt, and until the entertainment community makes an effort to hold EVERYONE accountable for what they say and who they say it to society at large can’t change because we take our cues from them. Food for thought- think about how you would feel if every choice you made was scrutinized, judged and thrown in your face while your male counterparts are praised and applauded for it.

[Photo’s from Just Jared, and OK! Magazine]