It’s a question we get asked a lot. As a campaign that is tackling sexual assault at gigs it’s something people want to know – who is inspiring us in the music industry? Nowadays, everyone from Taylor Swift to the drummer in that one band you can’t remember the name of but know the chorus to their one song is declaring themselves a feminist. This is proof that finally (and we mean finally – this fight has been going on since long before we were even born) people are starting to realise what feminism actually is. There is obviously still inequality in the music industry. Last year’s Reading and Leeds line up proves that. Due to stereotypical gender roles women are encouraged into the pop genres rather than to pick up a guitar. There is a significant surplus of men in the backstage and technical teams of shows and this isn’t even mentioning the lack of non-binary, LGBTQIA+ and POC in the music industry. However, on the positive side of things this is slowly beginning to change. Here’s a run down of five people in the music industry who we’re looking up to and think you should too:
The first, of course, had to be the love of our lives’ – Nicki Minaj. Whether she’s speaking out about the Black Lives Matter movement, encouraging girls to get their education or sticking up for curvy girls she’s spreading the core messages of feminism. She has amassed a huge empire through hard work and graft, as the highest selling female rapper her influence is unprecedented. In a genre that is, rightly or wrongly, known for the way it treats women she’s changing the game. The impact of this is untold and will be seen in generations to come. She’s also not afraid to call herself a feminist. In a world where there is still a lingering stigma towards the word feminism having her stand up and declare herself a feminist is helping to get rid of these pre conceived, wrong ideas. Therefore, she’s made it into the top five of who’s influencing us.
(TW// Mentions of rape)
Since most of us live in Scotland we had to give a mention to the amazing Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches. Everyone knows about online bullying and trolls. Even Girls Against gets messages from people saying that we should ‘go fuck ourselves’ that we’re ‘making the issue up’ and ‘deserve to be raped’. It has become pretty much normal within our society. However, the fact of the matter is that this is harassment and abuse. If this happened while you were walking down the street then there would be severe repercussions. Lauren has spoken out about this issue in the past and is taking a stand against it – particularly the sexist comments. There is a clear difference in the type of comments online made towards women and men. For women they are much more sexual and degrading which is not okay. Women do not exist for sexual gratification. Our self worth is not measured in the amount of sexual acts we can perform. This is what Lauren is trying to fight for and we completely back her. She’s also the lead singer of a band in a genre where there is disparity between men and women. Therefore, is not only fighting trolls but also evening out the playing field in music and inspiring other young girls to do the same.
If you’re not listening to Shamir yet, where have you been? He identifies as genderqueer, (but is comfortable with the use of male pronouns don’t @ me I do my research). He has toured with Troye Sivan and Marina and the Diamonds both huge names in music and feminism. Representation of non-binary people is crucial at this stage in time. People like Shamir are so necessary to keep discussion around these issues going and make sure that it becomes accepted and no longer something people bat an eyelid at.
4. Girls Behind the Rock Show
Girls Behind the Rock Show is an organisation set up by two girls – Courtney and Shelby. The idea of the campaign is to help more women become involved in the music industry and get to the places where it’s happening. They aim to offer internships to college aged girls who want to be involved in music – in any area of the industry. Setting aside the fact that we consider ourselves friends with the GBTRS girls you have to admit that what they’re doing is incredible. There’s a clear lack of women in some areas of music and it’s talked about but little is being done – which these girls want to change. For this we have to put them on our top 5. They’re also really nice as well.
Finally I had to give a nod to the very dear Emma Swann. Although, we’ve never met Emma she has supported Girls Against from the very beginning when she first contacted me to ask about my own experience which sparked the campaign. For those of you who don’t know her she’s a London based photographer and journalist who co-founded the music magazine DIY. What she’s managed to build is something we greatly admire. Although there isn’t a huge issue of gender in journalism there is in music journalism. She’s not afraid to call herself a feminist and is taken seriously in an industry dominated by men. Every month we make the pilgrimage to the closest Docs store to pick up this month’s issue of DIY and she’s a huge part of that. The magazines have opened our eyes to a whole other world out there and we probably wouldn’t be here without it.
I hope you enjoyed reading our top 5 of the people killing it in the music industry right now. There are so many others that we could have written on here – and almost did. Fact of the matter is that the music industry is changing and everyone plays a role in that.