By Timia Cobb
Women are powerful, and we shouldn’t have to put that on signs and protest about it for people to understand this. Women are our heroes, mothers, community leaders and more. Women, especially women in the music industry, are our voices.
The music industry is known to be sexist and sexually abusive towards female artists. An example of this is how female rappers have to work ten times harder to be deemed someone worth listening to versus a male rapper who repeatedly raps about all the money and women he has. The women of the music industry are more than just artists– they are activists who inspire change for young women of the world. Female artists have been singing about social change and the empowerment of women forever, but the messages in their music wasn’t really acknowledged until people couldn’t ignore what they were saying anymore.
In 1980, the great Dolly Parton wrote the Grammy award-winning song “9 to 5” for a movie she starred in. Even though this song isn’t about starting a movement or screaming for social justice, it is sarcastically and ironically telling the truth of what women have to go through in work spaces that are predominantly male. The song is very fun and upbeat, and you can’t help but want to dance when you hear it; however, when you read the lyrics, it gives you a dose of reality on what it’s like for women who work hard, but because of their sex are treated unequally. Parton illustrates her problem of working hard, but never being rewarded in the song when she sings, “You would think that I would deserve a fat promotion. Want to move ahead but the boss won’t seem to let me. I swear sometimes that man is out to get me!” Dolly Parton’s lyrics are sadly still relevant for women today who can’t move ahead in their careers just because they are women.
Having to be a woman in the music industry is a struggle, but being a black woman agonizingly adds even more pressure. Janet Jackson is part of one of the most musically talented families in the industry, but this doesn’t change that she is a black woman who still, no matter her status, has been a victim to discrimination. Janet’s 1989 song “Rhythm Nation” uses music to lessen the discrimination not only in the music industry but in the world. “Rhythm Nation” is a groundbreaking song that will always have a part in music history because Janet’s message in the song to this day is remembered and idolized by many. From the high level of discriminatory imagery that calls for racial equality in the music video to the lyrics that bluntly tell us “To break the color lines” and to “Join voices in protest to social injustice,” Janet is a revolutionary artist who might not have ended all discrimination, but brought more awareness towards the issue.
Jumping to the early 2000s, not needing a man to get what you want out of life became the newest motto and movement for women. Stereotypical women have always needed men to be their savior or wallet, but Destiny’s Child isn’t standing for that. “Independent Woman” by Destiny’s Child is my, and many other women’s, anthem when it comes to needing a man. It’s the 2000s, and if women want something they get they get it themselves. Who needs men? This song paved the way for a new movement of women knowing their worth and understanding that they didn’t have to be married or tied to a man to have a good life. The message of being independent influenced many new styles of music that uplift women, even young girls. Disney Channel’s original 2003 movie “The Cheetah Girls” song “Cinderella” could greatly have pulled inspiration from “Independent Woman.” The song, even though it is targeted towards young girls, has lyrics that motivates them not to wait around for their Prince Charming, but to write their own happy ending. When I was a young girl I loved this song and the movie, and knowing that I grew up with representation to be independent makes me wish more music would make young girls recognize their worth in life. The Cheetah Girls and Destiny’s Child are superior music groups that consist of female artists who sing songs to rejoice women and I’m happy I was able to grow up listening to them.
Women go through more things than they should ever have to, but because of it, they are so strong. Women in the music industry strive to be voices of love and to motivate change, which is what truly makes female artists so powerful. They fight for other women so that they don’t have to go through the same horrible situation another had to.
Illustration by Gabrielle Hardy.