Sexism and Gender in Music
With Jenny Sturgeon, Laura Risk, Alistair Heather.
Gender in the performing arts is a live issue. As soon as female performers go on stage they become sexualised objects, subject to critique for their appearance and its conformity to expected norms. Male performers are not subject to the same level of attention, and their music is free to speak for itself.
The crowd-control over female performers continues long after the acts have left the stage and the curtain fallen. One young Scottish female folk singer wrote an interesting article for Bella Caledonia a couple of months ago. She said that whilst her male counterparts could post endlessly to social media about getting steaming, getting the clap on tour etc, and it would be put down as ‘banter’, a female has to portray herself publicly as staid, thoughtful, and controlled, regardless of what life she is living behind the scenes, or else suffer reputation damage.
Such was the backlash against the article from males in the folk music scene and her contemporaries that the singer in question requested the article be taken down, the conversation silenced. It was an eye-opener: not only were women put in a certain, limited space in the folk scene, they were limited in how far they could even describe their own confinement.
Recently through my work at the Elphinstone Institute, I had the chance to sit down with a prominent academic and performer Laura Risk and Scottish folk singer Jenny Sturgeon to discuss further sexism and issues of gender in music, historically and contemporarily.
They cover sexism, gender balance, ageism and raise the question of non-binary gender identity …