New Hope for Women in Music

Throughout history, women have been underrepresented and degraded in music.

The industry has sexualized, stereotyped and forced double standards onto every female artist. It’s an issue in pop, hip-hop, country, and every genre in between.

However, as 2014 slowly comes to an end, it looks like the new year might also bring in a new era in music. Many musicians are turning their backs on the misguided and outdated social traditions of the past and are headed in a new direction.

Compared to recent generations, the women of today have a stronger voice in the music industry than ever before. For the seventh consecutive week, female artists have held onto the top five spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart.

1. "All About That Bass" --Megan Trainor

2. "Shake It Off" --Taylor Swift

3. "Bang Bang" --Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj

4. "Black Widow" --Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora

5. "Habits (Stay High)" --Tove Lo

But, who are these women?

Megan Trainor, a newcomer on the scene, received mixed reviews from critics. Her song promotes body positivity for full figured women but goes on to stigmatize skinnier girls for their body type. We live in a society that very rarely celebrates curves in this way. So, although she admitted to her mistake, Trainor thinks her minor blunder meant next to nothing in the scheme of things.

Taylor Swift’s latest single combats the relentless negative media attention she receives on a daily basis. As the lyrics go, the “haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate," showing she doesn’t care about those who reject her messages. It was only a year ago that the press reported on Swift claiming that she was not a feminist. However, she recently came forward and said that, after hearing Emma Watson’s U.N. speech, her views have changed. She now understands what it means to be a feminist and absolutely identifies herself as one and believes her upcoming album will reflect that.

Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj have stated that “Bang Bang” addresses the sexual double standards in our culture. Minaj herself also received major backlash this summer for her “Anaconda” music video. She too said that she was trying to prove a point with her provocative performance and refute any gender-based stereotypes.

But, what does this mean?

This is proof that things are changing. A new generation of women are now expressing themselves in ways they haven’t before. They are learning from the past and educating themselves about the issues women face today. Artists like Beyoncé, Lorde, Lady Gaga and Demi Lovato are empowering others to be strong forces in the world. Women are coming forward and demanding that they be recognized, respected and treated as equals with their male counterparts.

The music industry is huge and incredibly influential. It’s vital that these public figures use their positions of power to promote positivity and encourage one another to not only be great, but to do great things. We need both female and male artists to sing loud and proud about women. Everything that they say and do trickles down through the rest of society.

But, what can we do?

As fans, listeners, viewers and consumers of all that the industry puts out, it might feel like we can’t possibly affect the system from the bottom up. That is simply not true. Each of us has the ability to transform the industry just like the artists.

We have to stop being passive listeners. The next time a song comes on the radio, take a moment and really listen to what’s being said over the bass drops and back beats. Uncover what the artists are actually saying about women just like you and what sort of messages we are perpetuating. Maybe you’ll end up changing your tune.