Sexism And Music by ninthandash

Originally posted by ninthandash in 2009

I’m not very articulate about certain issues. I get certain feelings and I have problems expressing them. Personal issues, I’ve never had a problem with, it’s been almost therapeutic for me to write them out. But ideas about right and wrong in terms of general bandom issues — feminism, sexuality, etc. — I find harder. Which is why I like reading other people’s so much — I sit there going yes, yes, that’s exactly how I feel but I’ve never been personally able to express it.

Anyway, that’s my explanation to why this article might be a little awkward. I have a problem with something I’ve seen but I’m not entirely sure how to express it. So instead of a well-formed opinion, this is more an informal article of a teenager attempting to work through the issues that she finds herself confronted with. I find at this age, more than anything, there are so many things that you feel you should have an opinion on, but the information just isn’t within your grasp. Combine this with the ever-present media telling you constantly what you should think and feel, and it’s difficult to form your own opinion. Sometimes, things just don’t sit well, but you don’t know why and there’s just no one around you to discuss it with and allow you to fully realise your thoughts on the matter.

So I was over on a music website today — this was pretty much the first forum I ever joined, and the first time I became a part of an internet community; I’m not so involved these days but I still visit it regularly and feel loyalty towards it and the people there — and I was clicking around and I came across the thread entitled ‘The Hottest People In Music’. I don’t usually contribute to those threads — my thoughts are usually people who may not be recognised as talented musicians, but who I find good looking — and these sometimes don’t go down so well on a site like this one, and I’ve worked hard on there to avoid the stereotype of the teenage fangirl.

But I was looking through it anyway — because, hey, who am I to deny myself some hot people in music — and all was well. But then I saw this post and I was like, “wait – what?”

Basically, it had three photos of a girl in music, I’m not sure who, and ended with the line ‘I thought I’d make it fair and put live/pro photos. She should just quit the band and model I think…’

She should just quit the band and model I think.

Something about this just didn’t seem right to me. Some inherent belief ingrained in that just hit a nerve, and I found it offensive. You know, I’m probably overreacting to this but I kind of couldn’t believe it. First off, if someone was saying that about me? I’d be kind of really pissed off. I can understand enjoying someone’s looks more than the music they make and it’s probably inevitable that it’s going to happen sometime. Sometimes good looking people made bad sounding music, I get that. Seriously, I find people hot and probably can’t stand their music at all.

But I don’t think that person should stop doing something that they enjoy in order to, what? Model?

I have issues with modeling, personally. I’m not going to pretend that my opinions apply to everyone — they don’t. As with most things, my opinion is what I personally feel. And modeling is something I could never do. Forget about the lack of self-confidence in the way I look, that’s not even my biggest problem. What it comes down to is that you are, essentially, making money from the way you look. It’s a shallow business, all about aesthetic perfection, and I’m not into that.

Also in modeling, if your face gets damaged, if you have any kind of disability or imperfection, it’s near on impossible to make it. I want to make it in an industry where it doesn’t matter what I look like because it’s about a talent that isn’t to do with my appearance. That’s a personal thing. I realise I’m probably projecting a lot of issues onto this person that they didn’t originally mean. I’m using their post as a starting point, and I realise that.

It just seems like such a stupid statement to make. I think X is hot, therefore X should stop what they’re doing in order to please me. In these situations I like to think about what would happen if the genders were switched, if a girl said ‘hey, X is so hot, they should be a model,’ and I can’t imagine it. Maybe it’s because of my own opinions or maybe it’s because I’m used to the girls in bandom who are, in my opinion, usually more mature and intelligent than a lot of the fans you get outside of the internet or in different places.

I’m comparing this situation in a context I understand and that could be the problem. I initially tried to imagine someone saying, ‘Hey, Frank Iero is so hot, he should stop playing music and model.’ And I can’t imagine that. I tried to work out why that was and I think it’s because everyone knows how much Frank Iero enjoys music and everyone that knows what he’s like on that stage can’t imagine him without that. But maybe that’s the difference, maybe this poster barely knows this girl. In bandom I do realise we are more involved with the musicians than perhaps we might normally be.

But in the same way, I can’t imagine showing a photo of, say, Frank Iero (MCR, Leathermouth) — using him as an example here — to anyone and them going, ‘Wow, he should be a model.’ But I can imagine that more if I showed them a photo of, say, Vicky-T (Cobra Starship). ‘She should be a model.’ But — and here’s where it gets complicated — I think, if it was a girl, it would definitely be meant in a different way. (I realise I’m stereotyping here and there are a lot of boys who would also mean this in the same way, I’m just generalising in order to explain this to myself.)

If a girl said, ‘Wow, she should be a model,’ it would be meant as a compliment. Maybe more along the lines of ‘She could be a model’, just, she’s really pretty. Whereas if a boy said ‘she should be a model’ they would mean it a lot more literally. Also, it’s less assumed that boys are models. When someone says ‘gorgeous model’ or even just ‘a model’, the person that springs to mind is usually female.

None of this is particularly important though, because the poster didn’t say she should be a model, they said she should quit the band and be a model and that’s what gets me the most. “She should quit the band.” Why is it his place to say that? It’s based on absolutely nothing except for the way she looks. If he had something to back it up, I don’t know, if he thought she wasn’t talented or the band wasn’t particularly good then I could understand it a lot more. It wouldn’t necessarily justify it to me but it would make more sense.

In conclusion, I would hope that my music would be taken seriously enough for people to concentrate more on that than my looks, and that they wouldn’t want me to give it up to concentrate on something else. I feel that if we let these kind of statements slip by without comment, we’re just reinforcing the patriarchal society that we live in, and it makes it OK for guys to say these kinds of things. The way we speak can, arguably, affect the world around us, and I don’t want my world to be determined by someone else’s opinion of what I should or shouldn’t do.

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