Opinion: It’s Time for Sexism in Music to Stop

Elijah Perez, Opinion Editor

Men being shirtless makes them a rockstar, but women showing a little skin makes them provocative. It’s time for this mentality to stop. 

Sexism has been an ongoing battle in Hollywood and has been especially prevalent in the work of female musicians. The issue hasn’t lived entirely silent either with many expressing their frustrations from Madonna to Rihanna to Lady Gaga. 

Female artists, and their fans, have grown increasingly tired of the inequality that exists from the public and critics dealing with their music. 

As Taylor Swift said in an interview with Barbara Walters, “If a guy shares his experience in writing, he’s brave. If a woman shares her experience in writing, she’s over sharing, and she’s over emotional, or she might be crazy.” 

Then of course, there is the whole mentality of it being acceptable for a man to lay it bare on screen or on stage, but the minute a woman shows the slightest bit of sensuality, she is ridiculed and called promiscuous or “loose.”

It’s time we own up to the sexist nature of this mentality and begin to abandon it entirely. It’s the same mentality that tournaments high school girls when their male classmates get away with being shirtless, but they are in trouble for showing “too much shoulder.” 

The issue is not over dramatized or a radical feminist idea either, it’s proven itself to be true multiple times. Take The Weekend for example, when he released his EP My Dear Melancholy after his breakup with Selena Gomez, he was praised for his vulnerability and emotional depth. While at the same time, the running joke of Taylor Swift being a maneater still existed for essentially writing about the same thing. 

It’s not only unequal, but it also takes away from the talent these female artists have. Swift’s song “All Too Well” is one of the most raw and well crafted songs about a past relationship ever written and Adele’s album 21 remains one of the most impactful and heart wrenching breakup albums. Yet, these artists are reduced to being “over emotional.” 

Now, don’t be mistaken, these artists and many other female artists are praised for their work, but they still equally receive ridiculous criticism that people are not ready to admit is sexist

This is not an outdated problem either, it’s still right here in 2020. Just last month, Ariana Grande released her album Positions which contains lots of sexually open and explicit lyrics. While people loved the album, there was still the old fashioned criticism that she was being overly sexual. 

Why does Grande receive this reaction when male rappers like Travis Scott or 21 Savage continue to be extremely vulgar in their music and it’s just accepted as normal? The same problem comes up in Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP, the song contains lyrics a modern male rapper’s song would contain, but from a female perspective, yet critics and the public said the song was “too much.” 

Women in music have been dealing with this issue for decades. The song “Joystick” by Dazz Band came out in 1983 and is purely a sex anthem and is beloved. However, less than a decade later, Madonna released “Erotica” and she was called promiscuous. 

In an interview she was asked, “Most people probably perceive you as being promiscuous, how does that make you feel?” To which Madonna replied, “I just think that it shows how ignorant people are, and how people aren’t really listening to what I have to say. What I am saying is that you should feel comfortable with your sexuality and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it.” 

In the end, Madonna’s album Erotica, while being critically acclaimed now and deemed iconic, has almost been lost to time because people labeled her overbearing while her male peers were doing the same thing. Fellow musicians at the same level of stardom such as Prince or Michael Jackson released songs sexual in nature and have danced suggestively, but she was the one taking the public ridicule. 

The sexist fueled mentality even troubles music videos. In an interview discussing her “Bad Romance” music video, Lady Gaga was asked, “Having sexual references, can it undermine music?” Gaga rebutted, “I’m not scared. When I do it in my music and in my videos, because i’m a female, because I make pop music, you’re judgemental and you say it’s distracting.” 

The sexist outlook on female artists needs to stop, what’s undermining their music is not their expression on sex and love, it’s the idea that they can’t do that as women. This thought process takes away from their artistic creativity and depth, reducing it to nothing but hormones and promiscuity. 

The fact is, female artists can talk about breakups and sex and it is totally normally. They experience it the same way we do and their music gives listeners something to relate to. 

We need to recognize that thinking otherwise is, if not entirely, somewhat sexist and stop putting degrading lyrics and commentary on a pedestal. 

So, open Spotify, put on your favorite Adele, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, or Katy Perry breakup song, and enjoy it.