Pop starlets like Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga demonstrated in 2013 that they find it empowering to flaunt their sexuality, but singer Charlotte Church feels differently. The British songstress gave a lecture for the BBC earlier this year in which she said the music industry demoralizes women.
"I'd like you to imagine a world in which male musicians are routinely expected to act as submissive sex objects," Church said. Picture Beyonce's husband Jay Z stripped down to a T-back bikini thong, sex kittin' his way through a boulevard of suited-and-booted women for their pleasure. Or Britney Spears' ex, Justin Timberlake, in buttocks-clenching hot pants writhing on top of a pink Chevy, explaining to an audience how he'd like to be their 'Teenage Dream'. ... Of course these scenarios are not likely to become reality, unless for comedy's sake. The reason for this is that these are roles the music industry has carved out specifically for women."
Church went on to say that female musicians typically fit into one of three roles: the "One of the Girls' Girls" ("a painfully thin reduction of feminism that generally seems to point to a world where, 'so long as you can hang out with your girls it's possible to sort of wave away the evils that men do'"), the "Victim/Torch singer" ("Someone who has been let down by the men around her, and is subsequently in a perpetual state of despair"), and the "Unattainable Sexbot" ("hyper-sexualized, unrealistic, cartoonish, as objects, reducing female sexuality to a prize you can win").
After entering the music industry at age 15, Church said when she started getting older she was encouraged to "show off" her body. "I felt deeply uncomfortable about the whole thing, but I was often reminded by record label executives just whose money was being spent," she says. "Whilst I can't defer all blame away from myself, I was barely out of my teenage years, and the consequence of this portrayal of me is that now I am frequently abused on social media, being called slut, whore, and a catalog of other indignities that I am sure you're are also sadly very familiar with."
Church added that she, like Annie Lennox, supports a rating system for music videos. "If the power was taken away from sex in pop by making it harder for younger viewers to access it, then maybe the focus would shift to making works of artistic beauty and conscience."
Read Church's full lecture here. What do you think of her comments?