There is always much debate over whether feminism is still relevant today. I recently read an interview with Lily Allen who said that “The word feminism shouldn’t even be a thing anymore” – she claims that she had been misquoted by Shortlist Magazine, and a Twitter argument ensued, but whether she said it or not, there are many people who hold this opinion.
Frankly, they are wrong. Perhaps in some pockets of first world modern society, there is no need for feminism, but what about those women who are sold to men by men as sex slaves? What about those women who are forced by their husbands, and leaders to conceal their identities in public? What about those women who are raped and abused every day?
A common misconception is that feminists are women who hate men, and don’t shave their legs, but that’s not what it’s about, it’s about equal rights for not only women, but also men. I recently sat in a student council meeting where there was a debate about the need for a male liberation rep. If there was any need for males to be liberated, as a feminist, I would be all for this. However, there is not. Males do not face gender inequality. If they did, this would be a feminist issue, feminism deals with equality both ways.
Personally, as a music student, I have been in male dominated classrooms throughout my further and higher education. This is a microcosm of the music industry itself. I recently did some work experience at a major record label, and I noticed that the majority of the high power positions were held by men. Not only this, but the female artists and musicians are perceived differently to male artists and musicians. I just read an interview with London Grammar about how Hannah Reid is treated differently to the rest of the band, as interviewers always look to her fellow male band mates for answers to any questions about songwriting, and the actual music, when in fact Hannah has just as much to do with it as they do.
It is often assumed that female singer songwriters write “pretty” music, and this is something that Laura Marling strongly objects to in an interview with the Guardian. “Take another look. My songs are not pretty. They’re what I call optimistic realism… Some are depressing, and I have depressive sides to my character”. I think Laura Marling’s songs are beautiful, but they’re also deep and often dark in their subject matter. They’re lyrically poetic, and their forms are interesting and often daring. Not to mention her guitar playing which is proficient, precise, and full of character. Excellent craftsmanship and years of hard work goes into every one of her singles and albums. It’s understandable therefore, that she doesn’t want the only thing that people take away from her songs to be that they are “pretty”.
Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” video takes a satirical look at sexism in the music industry. Whilst I don’t think all women artists are forced to have liposuction, there are still some inequalities in the way female artists are presented in the media, and therefore there is still a definite need for feminism.
I’ll end with a wonderful quote by the wonderful Kate Nash…
“I think you just have to think about the reality of what it means and not get intimidated by it. Some people see it as a negative word that means you hate men and girls with nice legs and a tan. But all it means is that you think women’s rights are important; that you think women should have the right to make their own choices and to be empowered; and that you oppose sexism, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault, pressure on women to look perfect, and being disrespected in the workplace. If you think that sexism is no big deal and that ‘we’ve come a long way,’ it’s important to educate yourself about serious issues that women worldwide are struggling with.”