On the 24th November, Charli XCX’s documentary aired on BBC3, ‘The F Word and Me’. This documentary followed Charli as she set upon her world tour and along the way she interviewed other friends and musicians in the industry to talk about the F word. Feminism. This documentary went into depth in what it is like to be a woman in music today.
Feminism in the music industry is slowly improving, with more women taking control of their own image instead of old men, typically white- telling them what to wear and who to be. However with this comes criticism from different places, usually the press. Charli speaks about how if she accidentally flashes her pants during a performance then the press will immediately brand her ‘that classic woman flashing her pants’ but if she doesn’t and is covered up she would be branded a ‘boring hipster’. What girls wear on stage or in their videos without a doubt starts debate.
Another artist who has spoken about being told what to do by men but ended up taking her own control is FKA Twigs. She spoke in an interview about how she trained extensively for ten years to then go to auditions and be told to ‘look cute’ and ‘rub yourself up a rappers leg’, and with this she was dissatisfied. Since taking complete creative control Twigs’ has become extremely successful.
I went to Piccadilly Records in Manchester’s Northern Quarter to have a look around and see if I could see how women are represented on the front of their albums. Sadly I couldn’t find any in your face pop music to reflect some of the issues that Charli XCX faces in her genre of music, but instead was surprised at how relevant other genres were to the same discussions that were presented on The F Word and ME. The first LP I came across was Patti Smiths Easter.
On the cover you see Patti posing in a way that shows her unshaved armpit, looking very natural and proud of the way she looks. This topic was discussed in the documentary, with female artists saying that they feel sexy when they are natural, and when they were younger they were embarrassed of their own body hair and now want to make younger girls aware that it is okay not to be worried of societies ideals and stigmas.
Another album that I found interesting was Rub by Peaches. On the cover you see a distorted image of Peaches looking very androgynous with makeup smothered all over her face. She looks battered and bruised but is still posing in a way that could be echoing that we see from females in magazines and publications on a daily basis. This could represent the distorted images of women we see in tabloid magazines and porn that show girls how they are supposed to look, but this is not public domain.
This album was also interesting to me because of the names of her songs. Even if you know nothing about Peaches, from the song listing alone you can tell that she has creative control and she is trying to oppose being reduced to stereotypes. However some people argue that this kind of creativity coming from a woman can sometimes be intimidating for audiences and are not a good example for young girls, but they cannot deny that it is empowering for females of all ages. Everyone remembers the video of Nicki Minaj explaining how when a man is assertive he is called the boss, but when she is assertive she is called a bitch.
In music today I think women are less seen as puppets but more of a strong force of creativity, and are bringing something new to an industry that has been ran by men since as long as it has been called an ‘industry.’ Even though women still are the minority, they are becoming a lot more major.
To watch the documentary on BBC iPlayer follow the link provided, but be quick as there is only seven days left to view.