Hey, Did You Notice The Music Fest You're Attending This Season Has Like No Women
If you're a fan (or active opponent) of unbelievably explosive action movies usually starring the likes of The Rock, Vin Diesel, or some other third muscular bald heartthrob, you're probably familiar with the Smurfette Principle. In fiction, the Smurfette Principle, coined by Katha Pollitt, applies to works that feature a cast of exactly one woman in an otherwise all-male lineup.
A Smurfette has all the sex appeal of a Playmate but plays by guys' rules. She can drink any man under the table but needs occasional rescuing from her male counterparts. She's strong but not tough enough to fight all of her own battles. She's vaguely reminiscent of a MILF and not to mention the sexual tension between her and the guy gang. Think Yelena in xXx; Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy; Penny in The Big Bang Theory; and your childhood isn't exonerated either because Lola from Looney Tunes is a prime example.
But the Smurfette Principle doesn't just apply to movies and TV. Do you see anything wrong with this picture?
Aside from this killer lineup of many surprisingly feminist artists, you may have noticed that those attending Bonaroo are going to see like no women performers and those that do perform are generally the front for an all male group. Seeing the Smurfette Principle coming into play here? And it's not just Bonaroo. Take a look for yourself.
Most Festivals Have Less Than 30 Percent Woman-Led Performers
These findings include all women bands, bands led by women, and duos and trios with at least one woman. The numbers are generous given that they include a few bands of at least nine men and a single woman.
If you're like me at my first music festival, you probably wouldn't think much of it. But you should.
The Smurfette Principle and Music
According to an article in the Huffington Post, women make up 51% of music festival attendees each year but a fraction of the lineups. The article calls into question the largest festivals with the greatest disparities and reasons for the inequity. It cites everything from the pay gap, to our culture's lack of encouragement for women in programming, to women pop stars' unwillingness to perform if they are not headlining, to occupational disparities that cause women to steer clear of producing positions. The post also mentions a dearth of women artists in genres other than pop.
I'm Totally Not Sexist, But I Still Want To Go Music Festival Hopping
So there's clearly a problem whether you are firm believer in the effects of sexism or not. What can you do about it if you love music, your boy bands or already bought your tent for Bonaroo? Relax. You can still go your festival, but make sure you're supporting underrated musicians during and after festival season, too.
Ask yourself: how many women do you listen to? Is your playlist significantly male? Why? Does that make you sexist?
Not necessarily. The issues that plague our society are not endemic to politics and business. In fact, they thrive in other industries because of the shared assumption that gender inequality only exists within certain spheres.
To solve the music industry's glaring gender problem, we must go about it as we would in any other industry: go back to the basics and call attention to the disparity.
The reason more women are not featured in xXx, Guardians of the Glaxay, The Big Bang Theory, or even Looney Tunes is the same reason we don't see as many women preforming in music festivals. It's not just the male, cis or white-dominated nature of the industry or any one person's malicious attempt to bar women from success. Rather, it's the complacent disregard for inarguable statistics that prove how subtle sexism can affect every aspect of success from pay, to producer support, to beauty. It's the same reason there are more CEOs named John than all women CEOS. It's the same reason so many girls who outranked boys in STEM subjects as elementary schoolers begin to see a sharp decrease in their STEM grades upon reaching middle school. It's the same reason Silicon Valley has a serious diversity issue (which may be solvable by ketchup?)
A slew of talented women artists are entirely too underrated.
As rapper Angel Haze says in the Huffington Post article, “if women were praised more for their music, for their talent, for anything other than what the f*ck they look like — a lot of things in the world would be different.”
Encourage Underrated Artists With Talent
If you're a hispter you live for the prestige that comes with listening to lesser known artists and sticking it to the oligopolistic music industry. That includes supporting women, people of color and trans+ musicians. Hipster or not, here are a few you can start with:
AHONI - Transgender queen who's been in the music game for a while. You may recognize her voice from a slew of television shows, movies and vocal collaborations.
Mabel - An up and coming R&B singer with an affinity for true 90s style.
Flores - A woman who's inspiration is perfectly belted with every note she sings. The track below took her six months to finish while she crashed on different friends' couches for half a year.