Divide between male and female musicians still growing

Misogyny in the music industry is causing male musicians to become more popular and more valued than their female equivalents.

As it turns out, the music industry is yet another area for gender discrimination to rear its ugly head. Women in the spotlight are severely judged for every action they make. Their behaviors are constantly dissected and scrutinized.

One example is the extreme criticism of Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance in 2015. Her bold performance of the song “Dooo it!” included a brightly colored leotard, caricatures of her dead pets and an album release announcement which wrapped up the VMAs with a daring twist. This shocked many people and flooded the media with negative press revolving around her actions.

“She made pot jokes and showed a lot of skin. Many critics were not pleased with it, and said her career was officially over as a result,” wrote Daniel Bukszpan of Fortune.

In contrast, Justin Bieber has spit on fans from his hotel balcony, punched paparazzi and shown up an hour and a half late for a concert according to Mirror, MTV and the Independent, respectively. Still, he is on Glamour’s “100 sexiest men of 2016” list and is immensely praised by fans.

This sexism also stretches to the music created by the music industry. Misogyny is ingrained in lyrics of popular songs, only to be masked by a catchy beat.

A prime example of this is Robin Thicke’s 2013 song  “Blurred Lines.”  This song flaunts lyrics that promote rape culture. For example, the lyrics in the hook “I hate these blurred lines/ I know you want it” reference the line between consent and non-consent, which he believes are “blurred.”

Though many people called out Thicke on his sexist lyrics, he still made $5,658,214 off of “Blurred Lines,” according to Time. In addition, Pharrell Williams, who was featured on this song, has received no backlash whatsoever — in fact, he is still praised for his family-friendly song “Happy” which was featured in “Despicable Me 2.” Williams getting away with sexism also shows that males who objectify women and promote rape culture through disregarding lack of consent are socially acceptable.

Along with this harsh criticism and objectification, pop songs written by female artists chart in the top 40 much less often than songs written by male artists.

“In terms of sales, male artists had 238 hit songs (54.1 percent) and female artists had 182 (41.4 percent). But, in terms of airplay, male artists had 271 hit songs (61.6 percent) and female artists had only 151 (34.3 percent),” reported Tom Jacobs of Pacific Standard in 2011.

This gap between the numbers of women and men is staggering and continuously growing.

Additionally, “the Top 40 Chart is only 29 percent female” (Fusion).

A woman’s journey to the top is much more arduous than that of a man’s, and is filled with endless criticism. Even with all of the hard work they put in, many very talented women do not get the deserved appreciation for their work that their male counterparts would.

However, through all of the hardships that women in this industry have put up with, certain strong individuals still prevail.

One of these tenacious individuals is the female rapper, Nicki Minaj. As one of the  most popular female rappers in the business, she uses her influence to spread the message of feminism. Through her fashion, lyrics and persona, she reclaims her sexuality and individuality and implores that others do the same.

For example, in her feature in Kanye West’s song “Monster,” she raps “you could be the king, but watch the queen conquer,” shutting down the stereotype that only men can be powerful.

“There are sexual things I do that aren’t for a man. I feel empowered sometimes by being sexy and being comfortable enough to be sexy on camera,” Minaj claims (Vogue).

Her bold defiance of gender norms is making cracks in the glass ceiling and paving the way for women to express themselves freely.

Another example of extreme perseverance is that of African American singer, Beyonce Knowles. Her passionate lyrics and remarkable vocals have made her the fifth highest paid woman in the world (Forbes).

Her powerful song “Run The World” features the lyric, “I’m reppin’ for the girls who taking over the world/Help me raise a glass for the college grads,” where she references her urge to break the glass ceiling and calls for others to do the same.

Her 2014 essay for The Shriver Report delves into the issues she so adamantly pushes in her music.

“Humanity requires both men and women, and we are equally important and need one another. So why are we viewed as less than equal?” she fervently claims in her essay (Shriver Report).

This brings up a severe question: why are women treated so unfairly? Why has society devalued us for centuries and pushed misogyny into every facet of human lives— so much that it now seems normal?

It is obvious that gender inequality still exists. Women still make 77 cents on the dollar, still don’t fully have the rights to our bodies and in some places are still barred from going to school. Women spend their lives being forced to fit a mold society has created for them, and when finally given the chance to succeed, are held behind the glass ceiling.

The only way for us to shatter that ceiling is to push — push by embracing yourself, by calling out misogyny and by accepting the ways of Beyonce, Minaj and other role models that fight so hard to make society see that women are worth something.