2013 was a fantastic year for women in the music industry. Even the bad press and mixed reactions surrounding Miley Cyrus opened up feminist debates, which is ultimately a positive thing. Here are just a few women who attempted to change the sexist record and rocked the 2013 music scene:
A crossover from 2012 here: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, members of the Russian female punk band Pussy Riot, were released in December 2013 after being imprisoned in February 2012 for their political song ‘Punk Prayer’ in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral. Their original conviction for supposed “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” was strongly opposed by human rights groups. Both members were due to be freed in March 2014, but were granted an early release due to an amnesty law which covered their rights as mothers. Both women opposed their early release, labelling it a ‘publicity stunt’ for Putin ahead of Russia’s hosting of the Winter Olympics, but have vowed to use their freedom to continue the pressure against the ‘totalitarian machine’ of Russian government.
Lauren Mayberry, one third of electro-pop band CHVRCHES, addressed the misogynist, sexist online comments she received from ‘fans’ on a daily basis in an article for The Guardian newspaper in September this year. She stated that ‘Objectification, whatever its form, is not something anyone should have to “just deal with”’. Lauren’s strong views echo those of fellow female musician Grimes who posted similar sentiments on her tumblr blog in April: ‘I’m tired of creeps on message boards discussing whether or not they’d “fuck” me’. Both women articulate the need for respect and equality within the music industry, and both are superb songwriters who collaborate with equally talented male musicians.
Amanda Palmer’s comeback to the Daily Mail’s ridiculous ‘review’ of her Glastonbury set in June (which wasn’t actually the focus of the article, it was her breast being reviewed) will undoubtedly go down in music history. At her show at The London Roundhouse she urged fans to film her as she stripped naked whilst singing a witty, intelligent, feminist dismissal of the Mail’s embarrassing, objectifying and basically poor reporting skills. Watch one of the videos here, it’s fantastic.
Despite dividing critics and fans, Beyoncé has advocated her feminism through her music. She sang at the Chime for Change concert in June, which was dedicated to promoting girls’ health and educational rights across the globe, and she recently sampled Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk ‘We should all be feminists’ on her new album. Whatever you think of Beyoncé, it’s good to see a woman with such influence using her fame for worthwhile feminist causes.
And of course, there were all the comebacks to Robin Thicke’s date-rape disaster of a song ‘Blurred Lines’. Universities across the country took action and banned the song from their campus clubs and bars, but the Auckland Law Revue Girls took it one step further and fully parodied Thicke’s ridiculous lyrics and music video. Watch their work in all its glory here.
29 year old Ohuruogo this year became the first British woman to win two Athletics World Championships, after taking the gold in the 400m in Moscow, and breaking Kathy Cook’s long-standing British record by a staggeringly tight two hundredths of a second. She was also named as the Sunday Times and Sky Sports Sportswoman of the Year for 2013, to which she commented “It’s such a tough category. It’s great we have women who are excelling. I am genuinely shocked but I’m really happy.”
She’s previously spoken out about the ‘celebrity’ nature of being a successful sportsperson – “We’re athletes; we’re not pop stars. We don’t thrive on public recognition. My job is to run around a track a fast as I can and that’s independent of outside influences. It’s not something that bothers me too much.” Ohuruogo plans to compete for Britain in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
The former French number 1 Tennis player, Bartoli was the Wimbledon women’s champion this year. In her staggeringly impressive performance in which she didn’t drop even one set, she became the sixth player ever in the open era to do so. Despite this incredible achievement, the focus from Radio 5 live commentator John Inverdale still focused on her appearance rather than her sporting ability, drawing nearly 700 complaints from listeners – “I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, ‘listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker.
Bartoli responded in typically no-shit-taking fashion, saying “I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I’m sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes.”
At just 14 years old, Marren competed for Britain at the Paralympic World Swimming Championships in Montreal in August, winning gold in the 200m individual medley, 100m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle and 4x100m medley and silver in the 100m freestyle and 100m backstroke. For this, she was named Disability Sportsperson of the Year 2013.
Now 15 years old and studying for her GCSEs alongside her sporting career, Marren sums up her philosophy on her achievements thusly; “I don’t believe that you can ever put a limit on anything. I truly believe that as long as you are willing to work hard and as long as you enjoy what you do; anything is possible and anything is obtainable.”