Updated: Aug 23, 2022
Women in the entertainment business are often dismissed as working on passion filled projects instead of getting the same career validation as their male counterparts. The thing is it takes passion for business to happen, because motivation drives action. Especially when access to money is considered. The issues affecting sexism in the music industry are so intertwined in the fabrics of society that it is hard to pinpoint exactly where to begin addressing them.
Following the money trail winds up at the source of misogyny. Just 9% of past Billboard 100 charts include women. The entire Top 10 is made up of white men. No transgender artist has charted in Billboard’s Top 100 or won a Grammy. Only through resilience have ladies carved a path in the same professional respect as men. How women influence communities as artists is impacted by the music industry’s reflection of society, sexism in business, as well as turning challenges into opportunities on both a national and local level.
"The music industry is a microcosm of what is happening in the U.S. economy at large," Alan Krueger, former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in 2013. "We are increasingly becoming a winner-take-all economy, a phenomenon that the music industry has long experienced… The lucky and the talented – and it is often hard to tell the difference – have been doing better and better, while the vast majority has struggled to keep up. These same forces are affecting the music industry. Indeed, the music industry is an extreme example of a super star economy, in which a small number of artists take home the lion’s share of income."
Economic and social circumstances affect equality in availability to be in positions of power and influence for workers in business that are not cis male. Income disparity for women and the trans community in small businesses is intensified when the gender disparity of childcare, domestic work, and lack of property ownership or assets is considered. Professional women are not just housekeepers doing arts and crafts. They are making a living, and deserve the same opportunities as the men around them regardless of their chosen career.
What is work without passion? People taking advantage of each other? Perhaps if passion were seen for what it is rather than as a weakness or aloofness, certain men would not uphold a system in which they make more money than women for doing the same job. Passion is an easy way to dismiss women trying to make a living.
The first time these ideas about applying social responsibility to business came to mind was in 2013 working for Funk Baby and DJ Soul Sister on It’s a Love Thing. They threw a benefit involving a silent auction to pay for the medical bills of one of the victims of the Mother’s Day Parade shooting earlier that year. So many people came together to donate time, art, and more to see this event through. It was all love. It was a community helping each other not just get by, but by giving back to each other.
Fast forward to today, and there’s stylist Paris Hatcher making things better with what she has through empowering others. Paris said on funding in a September interview, “When your back is against the wall, you will become creative… If you have inventory, you have money.” She shares how she made rent in a tight financial spot, and encourages others to think the same way. As a society people learn from each other. Identifying with people by giving them a way for their beauty to shine through is sharing self care.
“Be well and be weird,” says Karen Lozinski often as a greeting, goodbye, or pick me up. Her photography brings people together by recognizing the importance, relevance, and acceptance of what others have gone through. Intangible ideas are converted into tangible impressions through the representation of life by photojournalism. The personal artistic process is fused with memories. How she interacts with others allows openness for productivity. Curiosity provoked by her pictures dives into the challenges of the human condition, while discovering common ground among different stories.
Women working on passion filled projects are keeping it together for their community, despite the lack of credit or gender wage pay gap, from taking care of each other to facing the hard truths. National issues are often ignored as political, nothing to do with what is happening locally. But that is just a way for people to be comfortable with things as they are rather than face what needs to be addressed.
Passion filled projects focus on the issues that anyone who makes a living from profiting off of others’ labor would want to suppress. Women having free rights may be normalized in society, but women being treated equally as workers is not typical. On the surface, businesses act accepting of all sexual identities. But on the books, the numbers don’t lie.
In a male dominated work society, the heart of business is femininity. It takes being an active part of a community to survive, not just making money off of whoever possible. If financial worth defines the recognition of work instead of the consequences, then progressive initiatives will always be considered passionate filled projects while corruption gets industry verification. It shouldn’t be a problem for anyone to simply begin treating working women as equals. Even recently, men around the music scene constantly ask, “Whose girlfriend are you?” Even in conversations when planning events as if a woman could not possibly be the one making business decisions.
Initial publication posted in Big Easy Magazine. October 2018
March 2022 DJ Soul Sister aka Melissa Webber and I got into a fight about human rights issues. DJ Soul Sister says that artists are not accountable for supporting an organization that has a direct link to funding Neil Gorsuch's campaign on Supreme Court (voted against abortion and Indigenous rights), anti lgbqtia orgs, anti abortion orgs, anti marijuana orgs, etc. Please note that I do not consider her a value aligned person. She triggers the hell out of me. I worked for her on shows for years, and then to act like I am nothing because I point out she is supporting the politics she claims she's against? Hmm.