Updated: Sep 14, 2020
By Tamun Hanjra
Image via TOOFAB
Selena Gomez. Tyra Banks. Patricia Arquette. These womxn, along with so many more, have spoken up about the inequalities womxn face on a daily basis. Taylor Swift has addressed the constant scrutiny she is put under for her dating life and her songwriting. She says, “You know, I went out on a normal amount of dates in my early 20s, and I got absolutely slaughtered for it.” This type of scrutiny of the personal lives of celebrities is no secret, however, the extent to which womxn are scrutinized is far harsher than those of men.
Individuals that are members of the music industry are judged based on their social media presence, their interviews, and their clothing choices in addition to their music. This creates an environment in which artists are policed by an incredibly large audience. On social media, an artist is critiqued for everything ranging from the content of their posts to the timing. They are judged on their style, friendships, and the words that come out of their mouths on a daily basis. However, the harsh reality is that those who are womxn face this scrutiny to a far more strenuous extent than others in the industry.
The wage gap is a pretty well-known concept and accepted fact (especially in America) and a blatant example of the double standard in the music industry. Danielle J. Lindemann, a sociologist from Lehigh University, discussed that womxn earn significantly less than men in every industry. This disparity was present even when controlling for different factors such as hours spent on the job and the type of organizations (for-profit vs. non-profit) they worked for. In the United Kingdom, a law was passed requiring companies to provide the gender wage gaps within their companies in order to condemn these disparities. A study done on this information revealed that on average, womxn are paid 30% less than men working the same jobs, spiking up to a 49% difference. Along with the difference in the pay given, despite the company being 42% womxn, only 16% of the company leadership, on average, was womxn.
The unfair treatment of womxn in the music industry is also present in beauty standards. When you look at advertisements and social media posts, a revealing post from a male musician is seen as “sexy and confident,” whereas when a womxn posts a somewhat revealing photo she is slut-shamed and also critiqued on her physique. A man is labeled as having a “dad-bod” whereas a womxn will be labeled as “lazy and unhealthy.” Gigi Hadid, after being constantly scrutinized for her body, was forced to speak out about a health condition called Hashimoto's disease that causes extreme body fluctuation. However, Zac Efron, after being spotted on a beach was praised for his dad-bod without his health being called into question.
On top of the double standards regarding physique and clothing, there is also a double standard in the content of songs. Womxn are often regarded as “manipulative,” “obsessed,” and “angry” when they release songs about their exes, whereas men are viewed as “open,” “honest,” and “vulnerable.” A prime example of this discrepancy can be seen through the reactions to all of Taylor Swift’s songs versus Ed Sheeran’s. Both artists have a tendency to use their romantic experiences to cultivate new songs, however, they are met with different reactions from the public.
One last point to address is the presence of womxn in the Billboard 100 charts. In a study done by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, it was found that out of 600 songs analyzed on the Billboard 100 charts from the years 2012 to 2017, only 22% were performed by womxn, only 12% were written by womxn, and only 2% were produced by womxn. Despite there being multiple producers for many songs, womxn producers rarely received any of the credit.
Many times when addressing the double standard and the misrepresentation of womxn in an industry, the wage gap is often written off as a result of womxn working less demanding jobs and not being in positions of authority. This type of reasoning follows a causal fallacy, in that the assumption is that womxn are paid less as a result of less womxn being in positions of authority, rather than addressing the reasons womxn are passed over for leadership positions. Some of these reasons could include the labeling of womxn as emotionally unstable and unfit to lead, as seen in the 2016 Presidential election where Hillary Clinton was berated for exhibiting any sort of emotions during the debates, whereas her opponent was applauded for his passion and drive. It is imperative that we address the implicit biases that exist in our society when it comes to womxn and the workforce. There needs to be drastic change so that womxn get the recognition and opportunities they deserve both in the music field and beyond.
Written by writer Tamun Hanjra