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Dec 08 2013

Charlotte Church would like you to imagine

Charlotte Church on women in the music business, in this year’s BBC Radio 6 Music John Peel Lecture at the Radio Academy Radio Festival in Salford in October. (Salford! I’ve been to Salford. Kind of. I crossed a bridge into it, then crossed back.) She pulls no punches.

- I’d like you to imagine a world in which male musicians are routinely expected to act as submissive sex objects.

Picture Beyonce’s husband Jay Z stripped down to a T-back bikini thong, sex-kittening his way through a boulevard of suited and booted women for their pleasure.

Or Britney Spears’s Ex Justin Timberlake, in buttock-clenching denim hot pants, writhing on the bonnet of a pink chevy, explaining to his audience how he’d like to be their teenage dream.

Before we all get a little too hot beneath the gusset, of course, these scenarios are not likely to become reality, unless for comedy’s sake.

- The reason for this is that these are roles that the music industry has carved out specifically for women.

It is a male dominated industry, with a juvenile perspective on gender and sexuality.

Like so many other industries…TV and movies for example. Oh look, that’s all of pop culture accounted for.

When I was 19 or 20, I found myself in this position, being pressured into wearing more and more revealing outfits and the lines that I had spun at me again and again (generally by middle aged men) were

“you look great you’ve got a great body why not show it off?”

or

“Don’t worry it’ll look classy.  It’ll look artistic.”

I felt deeply uncomfortable about the whole thing, but was often reminded by record label executives just whose money was being spent.

Whilst I can’t defer all blame away from myself, I was barely out of my teenage years, and the consequence of this portrayal of me is that now I am frequently abused on social media, being called ‘slut’, ‘whore’ and a catalogue of other indignities that I’m sure you’re also sadly very familiar with.

I am, though for the opposite reasons; but both “reasons” are fundamentally the same despite the opposition.

H/t Jen Phillips

17 comments

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  1. 1
    Trebuchet

    Good for her! MInd you, I’m surprised she’s even as old as 19 or 20, since she was about 12 when she was on all those PBS specials. How time flies.

    (Goes away to check Wikipedia…)

    Holy cow! She’s 27! And I’m…ancient.

  2. 2
    jenBPhillips

    Whilst I can’t defer all blame away from myself, I was barely out of my teenage years, and the consequence of this portrayal of me is that now I am frequently abused on social media, being called ‘slut’, ‘whore’ and a catalogue of other indignities that I’m sure you’re also sadly very familiar with.

    Oh dear, yes. We are, sadly, VERY familiar.

  3. 3
    Pierce R. Butler

    … that’s all of pop culture accounted for.

    Well, ‘xcept for something called phideogamming, or something like that, and I’ve overheard talk of oddities called mango and triter, give or take a vowel or so.

    Surely taste and gentility prevail in such sophisticated and technologically advanced vanguards of our world!

  4. 4
    Alex

    On top of pop culture’s messed up ideas about gender, there’s also the following: Why are “whore” and “slut” still considered viable insults (*)? Two sides of the same coin I guess, one kicking you from behind while the other spits in your face to balance it out..

    (*) To avoid misunderstanding, I’m not saying that Ms Church should stop complaining about these just because I think they aren’t sensible insults. There’s after all the spirit in which they are used, and the fact that they can still be effectively used to shame people.

  5. 5
    Minnow

    The reason for this is that these are roles that the music industry has carved out specifically for women.

    Nah, the reason for this is that not enough teenage women (the main consumers of pop music) want to see men in those guises. It does happen, of course, but usually only when trying to appeal to the G.A.Y set for cachet on the way up (see Take That). If there was a market for it, you would see more of it. Just as women who choose not to needn’t, they just won’t sell as many records (see Gillian Welch).

  6. 6
    Alex

    @Minnow,

    I wouldn’t be so quick to declare cause and effect here. The gender roles which the music industry promotes, and those which the target audience apparently wants to see, are maybe very interrelated. So your alleged target audience, teenage girls, want to see scantily clad women parading their skin all the time? 1) is that really so? 2) why?

  7. 7
    theoreticalgrrrl

    It’s funny how adult women are so frequently referred to as girls, but suddenly teenagers are women. I guess if you’re 18 or 19. Whatever.

    I was just watching a concert DVD of the Rolling Stones that was originally made in 1968. Mick Jagger shakes his well-toned butt and then strips off his shirt at one point. I found him very sexy. I’m sure none of the teenage girls and adult women in the audience were complaining. Men can be sexy on stage, but they aren’t dehumanized for it.

  8. 8
    Stacy

    Nah, the reason for this is that not enough teenage women (the main consumers of pop music) want to see men in those guises….If there was a market for it, you would see more of it.

    Yeah, ’cause teenage girls and women never get erotically fixated on male pop stars *cough* Sinatra Elvis the Beatles Bobby Sherman Justin whatsisname *cough*

    It’s still taboo to market males to females–especially young girls–in an overtly erotic way. And girls and women still have to deal with a culture that portrays them as sex objects rather than the subjects or agents of their own sexual desires. Girls and women who are unabashedly sexual agents are demeaned as “sluts” and “whores” (even more so than those who, like Church, act out the somewhat more acceptable role of men’s fantasy girls.)

    Your libertarian “free market” worldview may work in the abstract, but here in the real world it leaves way too much unaccounted for.

  9. 9
    Alex

    Your libertarian “free market” worldview may work in the abstract,

    You know, anything can work “in the abstract” if one uses an abstract model which is vastly different and simpler than reality :)

  10. 10
    Shatterface

    Justin Timberlake’s a pretty poor example since there are about 6,000,000 pictures of him bare chested – and Jay-Z isn’t far behind.

    There have been male singers stripping to their waists at least as far back as Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison. It’s pretty much compulsary for current boy bands and even established stars like Robbie Williams, Eminem, etc. and no, it’s it all directed at gay men since many of these performers – especially in heavy metal and hip hop – are deeply homophobic.

  11. 11
    Bernard Bumner

    Shatterface -
    I think her examples are perfectly fine. She isn’t arguing that males aren’t marketed as sex symbols (notably, a term primarily applied to male artists), but rather that they tend not to be marketed as sex objects. Male pop stars are allowed to dominantly sexual (I could have You ) whereas females are portrayed as submissive objects of desire ( You could have Me ).

    A bare, muscular chest is a symbol of macho power in pur society; as much a signal from the alpha male to other males, as a signal to females of sexual availability. The visual language and sensibilities around the marketing of females are literally pornographic.

  12. 12
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    “Don’t worry it’ll look classy. It’ll look artistic.”

    How come it’s always breasts that “look classy and artistic” and not testicles? Oh wait, I know the answer…

  13. 13
    Scr... Archivist

    Minnow @5:

    “The public wants what the public gets.”
    – Paul Weller, British musician and singer-songwriter (1980)

  14. 14
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Nice to encounter another Jam fan (in a not-Underground place), Scr…Archivist. :)

  15. 15
    ericoehler

    This issue is endemic to all corners of the music industry, beyond just the pop star machine. It is very much an old-boy’s-club, women-have-their-predetermined-roles kinda of thing deeply beyond the public side of recording arts and sciences.

    Just yesterday I was busy facepalming over an ad for high-end audio connection and jack hardware – the kind of thing that is generally used by the sort of people who keep soldering irons handy and like to spend time discussing microphone impedance at great length – and the ad was a scantily clad, “alternative” model draped over a couch wearing a bracelet made of these high-end jack plugs. (look for “Neutrik” on FB, you’ll find it fast).

    All I could think was “all those female audio engineers and sound techs and AV professionals who put in the hours and got the training; and all those girls that maybe are interested in doing that sort of thing someday – in one image you just said that at best they’re just not worth marketing to, at worst that they don’t even exist.”

    It’s insulting on so many levels (aside from just lazy juvenile marketing), to so many people, for so many reasons. But it seems to get a pass because it’s so ludicrously pervasive. This particular example flies under the radar because despite it all, it’s one of the least egregious examples (it was artier than the standard “bikini chick holding a microphone” example that graces the ad pages of even the dryest tech mags and specialty catalogs).

  16. 16
    theoreticalgrrrl

    @Scr… Archivist
    Funny that you mention Paul Weller…HE was my dream man/heartthrob/sex symbol when I was a little girl. Had pictures of him on my wall and everything. Would write “Mrs. ____ Weller” on my school books and Jam/Style Council lyrics in my notebook a the time. :)

  17. 17
    A Good Egg

    I had a twitter argument with Ms Benson a few days ago (not a very good one, given the 140 character limit) and I promised I would go to the web to elaborate why I find Ms Church to be slut-shaming. I have sort of had the same argument with some friends of mine back when this was first published (I read the BBC article, which annoyed me, then heard the audio, which annoyed me more) and i knew I had to set aside several hours to get this done.

    It’s been months, but I will try to remember my initial reactions to the audio. I apologise for the length of the post.

    Thank you for coming to my Lecture this evening…

    - I’d like you to imagine a world in which male musicians are routinely expected to act as submissive sex objects.

    Picture Beyonce’s husband Jay Z stripped down to a T-back bikini thong, sex-kittening his way through a boulevard of suited and booted women for their pleasure.

    Or Britney Spears’s Ex Justin Timberlake, in buttock-clenching denim hot pants, writhing on the bonnet of a pink chevy, explaining to his audience how he’d like to be their teenage dream.

    My reaction here was mostly the same as several of the other commenters: Male musicians are already routinely expected to act as sex objects, with the difference being that some of them are presented not as submissive, but as non-threatening ones (eg The Jonas Brothers). I was uncomfortable with her using as examples men in relationships (even exes). Surely there are single singers she could have used as examples.

    Before we all get a little too hot beneath the gusset, of course, these scenarios are not likely to become reality, unless for comedy’s sake.

    - The reason for this is that these are roles that the music industry has carved out specifically for women.

    Again, my reaction was similar to those of previous commenters, specifically Pierce R. Butler’s, maybe more in the lines of “it’s a sexist society, why should the music industry be any different?” It’s not what sells it’s what the audience buys and, well, everyone here knows just how far we have to go to achieve true equality.

    It is a male dominated industry, with a juvenile perspective on gender and sexuality.

    …part of a male dominated world, with a juvenile perspective on gender and sexuality.

    From what I can see there are three main roles that women are allowed to fill in modern pop music, each of them restrictive for both artist and audience.

    The audience is restricted?!? I see this as an attempt to absolve the buying public from their responsibility in making successes out of blatantly sexualised female pop icons. The fact that nowhere in the following transcript does she call out the sexism in society only served in making me believe that this is slut-shaming.

    They are mainly portrayed through the medium of the music video.

    Where else? Music videos are a staple of the music industry since televisions became part of every household.

    You’ll find them very familiar. I call them the ‘One-of-the-girls Girls’, the ‘Victim/Torch Singer’ and ‘Unattainable Sex Bot’

    The ‘One-of-the-girls Girls’ role is a painfully thin reduction of feminism that generally seems to point to a world where so long as you can hang out with your girls it’s possible to sort of wave away the evils that men do.

    This denigrates women and men equally, and yet is commonly lauded for being empowering.

    Wait, what? Ignoring the fact that anything that lasts approximately three minutes is going to have any ideology painfully reduced, my friends have helped me if not in waving away, certainly recover more quickly from the evils that men do. And how does this denigrate men? That they cannot harm enough someone?

    The ‘Victim/Torch Singer’ can be divided up into the sexy victim i.e Natalie Imbruglia in her Torn video, and the not-so-sexy victim.

    One female artist who does not use her sexuality to sell records is Adele.

    However, lyrically her songs are almost without exception written from the perspective of the wronged-woman, an archetype as old as time, someone who has been let down by the men around her, and is subsequently in a perpetual state of despair.

    I distinctly remember my reaction being “aw hell no! she didn’t just hate on Adele!”

    My objections in order: Natalie Imbruglia was bloody tomboyish in “Torn”, Adele is damn sexy with her 60s femme fatale look and sad love songs sung by EITHER gender resonate more because while successful first love stories *do* happen, they are a rarity and the norm is everyone in the world has had their heart broken at some point in their lives. I got through ends of relationships with “Needles and Pins”, “Someone else not me” and “Goodbye Kiss”. All by male singers.

    Maybe when Adele (or the songwriter she was working with) was making that record had her heart broken and wanted to go through the stages of grief by singing about it, well, if Ms Church allows it apparently. Maybe she found a niche with sad love songs about broken hearts (like, say, Placebo). What’s wrong about that?

    This was the first time I got angry through this. Sadly, it would not be the last.

    But to me, The Unattainable Sex Bot is the most commonly employed and most damaging, a role that is also often claimed to be an empowering one.

    The irony behind this is that the women generally filling these roles are very young, often previous child stars or Disney-tweens, who are simply interested in getting along in an industry glamourised to be the most desirable career for young women.

    They are encouraged to present themselves as hyper-sexualised, unrealistic, cartoonish, as objects, reducing female sexuality to a prize you can win.

    And this is different from the gender attitudes of the entire society how?

    I would like to direct your attention to this 2010 paper on the attitudes of adolescents in the Netherlands, which studied exposure to all sorts of media, not just music videos. Girls watching soap operas correlated positively with endorsing gender stereotypes.

    When I was 19 or 20, I found myself in this position, being pressured into wearing more and more revealing outfits and the lines that I had spun at me again and again (generally by middle aged men) were

    “you look great you’ve got a great body why not show it off?”

    or

    “Don’t worry it’ll look classy. It’ll look artistic.”

    I felt deeply uncomfortable about the whole thing, but was often reminded by record label executives just whose money was being spent.

    This situation completely sucked and I am honestly and unreservedly sorry that Ms Church had to go through with this.

    Whilst I can’t defer all blame away from myself, I was barely out of my teenage years, and the consequence of this portrayal of me is that now I am frequently abused on social media, being called ‘slut’, ‘whore’ and a catalogue of other indignities that I’m sure you’re also sadly very familiar with.

    I say she *can* defer blame from herself, she was under pressure and, because we live in a sexist society women are actively taught NOT to be assertive and confident.

    As for the second part, if she thinks that women who were NOT sexualised in music videos are NOT called sluts and whores, she is woefully mistaken.

    Now I find it difficult to promote my music in the places where it would be best suited because of my “history”.

    I object to this.

    If she means opera, the history of the genre has been rife with scandal. Consider some of the most famous operatic roles. Carmer, La Traviata. Manon Lescau. Salome. Nedda from I Pagliacci. Pretty much everyone from Cosi Fan Tutti. Not blushing violets by any stretch of the imagination. Maria Callas had an adulterous affair. Geraldine Farrar led an even more scandalous life but still had a career until her voice broke. And modern opera is not without controversy.

    Seeing videos of Ms Church while she was still an opera performer and as adult, I find it more likely the problem to be that she hasn’t kept up with her belcanto exercises than prancing about in a corset ages ago.

    Moving on.

    The culture of demeaning women in pop music is so ingrained as to become routine, from the way we are dealt with by management and labels, to the way we are presented to the public.

    I am beginning to suspect she lives under a rock.

    You could trace this back to Madonna – although it probably goes back further in time.

    I object to sexualised=demeaning. I, in contrast to Ms Church, was alive when Madonna started out and the last thing that can be said about her is that she was demeaned at any point of her career.

    She was a template setter.

    Cher predates her.

    By changing her image regularly, putting her sexuality in the heart of her image, videos and live performance – the statement she was making was – I am in control of ME and my sexuality.

    …which statement is in direct contrast with what she said three sentences ago. And I would also like to point out that this statement can be made of Mae West as well.

    This idea has had its corners rounded off over the years and has become “take clothes off, show you’re an adult.

    I am officially feeling old. Am I the only one who knows of the euphemism for sex being “now you’re a man/woman”? Or of the sexual revolution and the hippie movement?

    Rihanna’s recent video for ‘Pour It Up’ may have over 40 million hits on Youtube – but you only have to look at the online response to see that it is only a matter of time before the public turn on an artist for ‘pushing it too far’.

    I find this statement to be slut shaming. What is she insinuating anyway, that Rihanna is so slutty in that video that even her fans are now turning against her?

    But the single, like all of Rihanna’s other provocative hits, will make her male writers and producers and record label guys a tonne of money.

    It is a multibillion dollar business that relies upon short burst messaging to sell product.

    Here I would like to point out that the lyrics feature heavily the statement “I still got my money” and the title of the album is “Unapologetic”.

    And there is no easier way to sell something than to get some chick to get her tits out, right? When the male perspective is the dominant one, the end point is women being coerced into sexually demonstrative behaviour in order to hold on to their careers.

    Really? The male perspective is the dominant one? You don’t say!

    Someone needs to tell her of “Mad Men”.

    This idea repeated over generations CAN’T BUT have a negative effect on women whether they are in the industry or not.

    And this is why we need feminism! I would like to change my previous statement to Ms Church is living under a rock.

    I needn’t point out that these roles are interchangeable for artists and they are not prescriptive to all female musicians.

    For every chart-topping star that fits neatly into one or other of these archetypes, there are 20 other artists, who may not have the same earning potential but have carved out their own roles, as human beings, not objects.

    One has only to look at Julia Holter, Haim or Polica to see strong women unrestricted in their art by their gender or sexuality.

    And if we weren’t living in such a sexist society maybe they would had been more successful.

    Throughout the industry wherever you find women they are doing brilliant things.

    True of every industry.

    Trina Shoemaker is a three time grammy award winning engineer, Mandy Parnell is a mastering engineer who has worked on some of the best received albums of the last 20 years, and Marin Alsop this summer became the first ever female conductor of the last night of the proms.

    She recently said

    “There is no logical reason to stop women from conducting.

    The baton isn’t heavy. It weighs about an ounce. No superhuman strength is required. Good musicianship is all that counts. As a society we have a lack of comfort in seeing women in these ultimate authority roles.”

    Out of 295 acts and artists in the The Rock & Roll hall of fame 259 are entirely male, meaning that Tina Weymouth’s part in Talking Heads make them one of the 36 female acts.

    The Association of Independent Music’s 2012 membership survey revealed that only 15% of label members are majority-owned by women.

    PRS claims only 13% of writers registered are female. The music producers guild: less than 4%.

    Last year I toured with an exceptionally talented female sound engineer, and last week I launched a publishing company that unintentionally has all female staff, but I’m constantly disappointed to find out how few women there are in certain areas of the industry.

    This statement can hold completely true by changing “music industry” to “physics”, “computer sciences”, “biology”, “game design”, “surgical specialties” and eighty years ago with “primary education”

    Because, once again, we live in a sexist society.

    So is it simply all down to sexism, myths about women perpetuated by men.

    Here would be a great opportunity to talk about the ingrained sexism. Also, myths about women are also perpetuated by other women and dispelled by other men. I find the problem to be the patriarchy, not the male gender.

    Nicky Minaj seems to think so. In what has now become known as her “pickle juice rant” she talks about how she is derided for demanding a certain level of professionalism from the people she works with.

    She says:

    “When I am assertive I’m a bitch when a man is assertive he’s a boss.”

    Minaj is one of many top-flight female artists who use alter-egos in their work. Her other personalities are often men who rap violently about women.

    So to what extent are these myths about women perpetuated by women themselves?

    Oh goody, she will talk about slut shaming and consent.

    In a very recent very public spat between the legendary Sinead O’Connor, and the infamous Miley Cyrus, Mother O’Connor wrote a concerned open letter directed at Miss Cyrus, who herself responded by ridiculing O’Connor’s bipolar disorder on twitter.

    No such luck. Instead, more slut shaming. Apparently, making someone called “Mother” sad makes you infamous.

    As for Sinead O’Connor, writing an open letter to an adult on her behaviour, instead of contacting privately, stinks of riding the bruhaha coattails. I’d tell her to mind her own fucking business and I am wearing jeans and sneakers and comfortable long sleeves 90% of the time outside my house. Although I wouldn’t touch on medical problems.

    If women are to become free agents of their gender’s destiny in a music world that is reliant upon shouting loudest over the clamour, it stands to reason that online pissing contests only serves to detract from the strong messages being put forward by such artists as Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu.

    Their recent collaboration on ‘Q.U.E.E.N’ is an eloquent and impassioned rally cry for what Monae identifies as “everyone who’s felt ostracised and marginalised”.

    And yet it is women that she addresses most specifically in the track, ending with the line

    “electric ladies will you sleep? or will you preach?”

    No objections to any of this, in fact, in the aforementioned Netherlands study the lack of correlation between heavy metal and gender stereotyping has been attributed to the increase of the number of women both in the audience and on the stage in the past 20 years.

    The recent flapping about Miley Cyrus’s blah blah blah has clearly struck a chord with the likes of O’Connor and opened up a worldwide debate on the use of female sexuality to sell product.

    I find it so precious that she cited O’Connor as someone on the side of non-controversial.

    Also, I am still waiting for a reference to consent and agency. Or, at least, to other women who used their sexuality on their own free will. But I guess that women such as Mae West, Rachel Welch, Brigitte Bardot, Cher, Sophie Dahl, Lady Gaga and Dita Von Teese, to name but a few, do not exist.

    Annie Lennox cut to the jugular when she talked about the age-propriety of what she calls “dark” and “pornographic” music videos. She has called for videos to be rated as films are, with x-ratings being applied to the most sexually explicit. It is interesting to note that anyone of any age has been able to watch Christina Aquilera’s simulated masturbation in her “Dirrty” video on youtube since the website began, and yet you must sign in to the site to prove your age if you wanted to watch Bjork’s stunning video for “Pagan Poetry”.

    This bit had me fuming. Not only for the slut shaming (suuuuuure Ms Church, blame, name and shame the singers who are scantily dressed. Blame the professionals who are being quote often reminded by record label executives just whose money was being spent unquote). Not only for forgetting Bjork’s All Is Love and the controversy THAT sparked. But for siding with Annie Lennox on censoring.

    Are they bloody serious? After SOPA and PIPA? After David Cameron wanting an in on all the computers in the UK? With net neutrality still under threat in courts and in secret meetings? How is this anywhere near acceptable?

    And, by the way, I am still waiting to hear about the sexism of the audience and the importance of agency and consent.

    Whilst I would argue that neither videos are acceptable viewing for young eyes, I know which one I’d rather have to explain to my child.

    So do I. I could start with “Women in pop culture are photoshopped within an inch of their lives” and continuing with this. The Onion is only half taking the piss with this article. Society places a completely different amount of pressure on women regarding the way they dress, to the point it removes their agency. Well, if it means modesty trolls are off my back, arse-wiggling is something I can live with.

    And without threatening net neutrality to boot.

    Whilst channels like YouTube and Vimeo have a responsibility in dealing with these issues, Radio stations shouldn’t think they are beyond criticism.

    YouTube and Vimeo are channels?

    As Tony Hall, the BBC’s Director General, announces the new iPlayer channel for Radio 1 the question must be asked:

    should programmers take into consideration the image of an artist when deciding whether to play and promote their music?

    HELL NO! If they did, would ANYONE have heard of Billie Holiday, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, and Lady Gaga?

    All of a sudden, I feel young again.

    There are countless examples from the last few years of songs that have been in high rotation, that have little to no artistic worth, but are JUST PLAIN RUDE.

    I would like to explain to the avatar of Waldorf and Stattler that the reason why some songs are in high rotation in radio stations is because the record companies charge so much for the copyright the radio stations are trying to get their money’s worth by playing them ad nauseam and this is why “channels” like YouTube and Vimeo are such a revolution. By making songs like “Gangam Style” and “Thrift Shop” such runaway hits outside the machinations of the music industry. But that would mean having the neutrality of the internet seep over to the more traditional media instead of censorship going the other way around, and that’s not something Ms Church and Ms Lennox want to endorse.

    You can probably tell I am angry all over again.

    I’ve been asked to give some examples, but I don’t want to give the Daily Mail an excuse to ignore the rest of this lecture.

    Because all other times The Daily Mail is such a bastion of journalistic integrity. For those who don’t know what The Daily Mail is, let me put it this way: if you set it on fire, it’s an insult to the oxygen consumed.

    BBC Radio is notorious for misreading sexual metaphor and innuendo as innocent, (most famously with Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side) but more recently there doesn’t seem to be a decency barrier at all, unless you’re dealing with words like “fuck”, or “shit”, or “hippopotamus cock”.

    Yes! Finally! A man as a sex symbol! Even though it’s in a complaint that there’s not enough cencorship

    If there are no sanctions put upon music that is written so zealously about genitalia, or uses soft porn in its promotion online, what is to stop artists feeling that making their music and videos more sexy will undoubtedly drive up their online views and subsequently encourage more radio play.

    Slippery slope much? At least she now gives artists *some* agency.

    And so to “Blurred Lines”, which many in this room have no doubt added to their playlists.

    The “Blurred Lines” video which had the biggest part in jettisoning a song, by a mediocre artist into the biggest track of the year, was on youtube for just under a week before it was taken down, and remains on Vimeo without any age restrictions.

    The indefensible Robyn Thicke stated in an interview with GQ that his intention was to do “everything that is completely derogatory towards women” because he respects them so much.

    He continued saying: “People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, ‘Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman.”

    Cthulu help me, I may defend “Blurred Lines”.

    For starters, this is a prime example of the accountability of audiences. This song became famous because the audience chose it. As for Robin Thicke’s GQ interview, considering he has been with the same woman for two decades when others in the industry can’t seem to manage two months, make me suspect he was being a troll. And, in any case, one of the rules that served me well in the intertubes is “do not feed the troll”.

    Treasure this sentence, this is going to be the only time Ms Church goes anywhere close to accountability. Still waiting for the importance of consent and agency.

    It is highly disappointing to note that the director of this crass and misogynistic video is a woman, Diane Martel, who also captured Miley Cyrus’s twerking for the first time in the video for “We Can’t Stop” and is responsible for an objectionable little number by Leah LaBelle called of all things ”LOLITA“.

    Am I to come to the conclusion that it’s okay to be a woman in the industry, unless you do something that Ms Church doesn’t approve of?

    And before starting to hate on the twerking, I would like to point to this article

    Criticising Miley Cyrus for appropriating twerking while African-American women are still objectified is one thing. Demonising a dancing style with a long history behind it is quite another.

    - What is possibly more disappointing than this is the presence of the exceptionally talented Pharrell Williams at 2013′s round table of chauvinism.

    In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Cyrus quoted a message to her from Williams, who said of her VMA’s blah blah blah “The VMAs was nothing more than God or the Universe showing you how powerful anything you do is. It’s like uranium – it has the power to take over lives or power entire countries.

    Now that you’ve seen your power master it… You’re not a train wreck, you’re the train pulling everyone else along”.

    And he was proven right because everyone is still talking about this VMA performance because this is this decade’s Janet Jackson’s nipple slip.

    How about we make a sign saying “Do Not Feed The Agents Provocateurs”?

    With this kind of encouragement it is no surprise whatsoever that young women feel it necessary to be more and more shocking in their bid to be the most… forward-looking?

    The kids have got it right (start from 1:55). Singers have to have a gimmick and stand out. And since the audience rewards sexiness, that’s what is mostly used.

    I have to admit I am surprised Lady Gaga hasn’t been mentioned (and won’t be). Her image is as far removed from Ms Church’s artistic “ideal” as it can possibly be without changing solar systems.

    - Canadian electronic artist Grimes, whose third record Visions was met with universal acclaim, says “i don’t want to be infantilized because i refuse to be sexualized”.

    Good on her, although I suspect the key word here is “Canadian”.

    To my mind what this industry seems to want of it’s women increasingly is sex objects that appear child-like.

    Where *is* that rock that Ms Church has been living under anyway? Bloody Narnia?

    Look at the teddy bears everywhere, the Britney Spears Rolling Stone cover with a tellytubby from 1999, I state again “Lolita”!?! The terrifying thing is that the target demographic for this type of music is getting younger and younger.

    Yes. And you know what children don’t have? AGENCY! And you know what they also don’t have? ABILITY TO CONSENT! Do you know what the rape culture strips women of? AGENCY AND ABILITY TO CONSENT! You ask us to think of the children? I AM THINKING OF THE CHILDREN! And censoring while ignoring agency and consent IS NOT HELPING!

    Then, as now, I am starting to beg for the sweet release of death.

    Jennifer Lopez seemingly trying to engulf the camera with her vagina on Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year is a mild example of how frequently carnal images creep into the realm of what is deemed ok for kids.

    Just when I thought I had become numb, here’s some more slut shaming to reawaken my pain receptors.

    - But ultimately it does not need to be this way. Sex can be art. Look at Bjork’s Vespertine, a highly sexual and sensual record by a woman entirely in charge of her career and her sex.

    The same can be said about almost every Prince record and should be.

    Gee, thanks for saying that being sexy can be artistic. I would never had come to that conclusion of my own. Now, pretty please, with sugar on top, can I decide for myself what is artistic and tasteful? If it isn’t too much trouble.

    Both are artists, adults and human beings intelligently addressing a human subject, not exclusively a male one. I support Annie Lennox’s plea for ratings on videos.

    And you probably voted for David Cameron as well.

    Even the researchers in the “Shake It Baby, Shake It”: Media Preferences, Sexual Attitudes and Gender Stereotypes Among Adolescents” who found positive correlations don’t support censorship. Why? BECAUSE IT DOESN’T BLOODY WORK!

    At least the end is near. I am finding this as excruciating to go through like the first time I did.

    If Rihanna had not grown up watching the videos of the nineties then it might not be quite so essential for her to portray her sexuality so luridly, so constantly, and so influentially upon the next generation.

    Another disgusting “think of the children” plea, combined with slut shaming Rihanna and wishing to remove her agency in one go. It’s her ass! Her sexuality! As long as she is not forced to act like this, what’s the bloody problem? This makes as much sense as blaming school mass shootings on video games.

    And I dare Ms Church to produce something half as hair-raising as “Love the way you lie”.

    If the power was taken away from sex in pop by making it harder for younger viewers to access it, then maybe the focus would shift to making works of artistic beauty and conscience.

    No, no and HELL NO! Hasn’t she heard of the “forbidden fruit” effect? Dan Savage shoplifted porn from truck stops as a teenager. Or, to give a different example, the kitchen drawers I was most obsessed with as a kid were the ones with the kitchen knives. And how the Mordor would she expect the focus to shift if the attitudes in society don’t shift.

    Well ladies and gentlemen, here you have a great example on the dangers of being a teen star. You grow up having absolutely no idea what your run-of-the-mill teenager thinks and acts like.

    And fundamentally that would actually be putting the power back in sex, for a future world where humans are able to portray their sexuality as it is for them.

    As long as it’s not with twerking, apparently.

    To quote Mistress Matisse’s twitter feed :

    Me pretending I’d be happy to have my sexual mores dictated by women instead of men will not actually bring about the end of patriarchy.

    To quote Heina Dadabhoy (2:11):

    You can’t force people to choose the version of freedom that you prefer

    Dictating what a woman wears is as infantilising as dictating what not to wear. And there is no “right” sexual expression. There is agency and consent. And I would rather err on the side of those.

    To paraphrase “The People Vs Larry Flint”, “If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, then it will protect all of you. Because I’m the worst.”

    If singers can wear whatever they like and not get judged for what they do or not do with their naughty parts and their talent determines their success, then I can wear whatever I like (within reason, of course) and regulate my own naughty parts without suffering harassment and discrimination in my workplace and be judged on my own work and results.

    Thanks to (hah) YouTube, I can get my feminism from better places.

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