Charlotte Church attacks sexist ‘soft porn’ music industry - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 15 October


Charlotte Church attacks sexist 'soft porn' music industry

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 15 October


Singer Charlotte Church has attacked the pop industry, claiming that it puts pressure on young female singers to create “hypersexualised”, “cartoonish” versions of themselves in order to sell records.

Delivering the annual BBC Radio 6 Music John Peel lecture in Salford yesterday, the classical singer-turned-pop star told an audience of music executives that the industry relied on soft-porn images to boost record sales.

"The culture of demeaning women in pop music is so ingrained as to become routine,” she said. “It is a multibillion-dollar business that relies on short-burst messaging to sell product. And there is no easier way to sell something than to get some chick to get her tits out, right?”

Church went on to talk about how, as a nascent pop singer aged 19 or 20, she was pressured to play the part of an “unattainable sexbot”. She said she was told by “middle-aged men” that she had “a great body – why not show it off?”. As a result, she argued, she was now frequently described as a “slut” and a “whore” on social-media websites.

“The irony behind this is that the women generally filling these roles are very young, often previous child stars or Disney tweens, who are simply interested in getting along in an industry glamorised to be the most desirable career for young women,” she said.

"They are encouraged to present themselves as hypersexualised, unrealistic, cartoonish objects, using female sexuality as a prize you can win."

Her comments come at a time of increased concern over the levels of explicit sex being used to sell records. In August, the former Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus caused outrage when she appeared on the MTV music awards.

Wearing a flesh-coloured bikini, the 20-year-old twerked (defined by Urban Dictionary as “the rhythmic gyrating of the lower fleshy extremities in a lascivious manner”) and made suggestive gestures with an oversized foam finger.

Artists such as Britney Spears, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj have been similarly criticised for explicit performances in the past. In her speech, Church made specific reference to Christina Aguilera’s Dirrty video, in which the singer simulates masturbation.

Earlier this month, former Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox called for pop videos to be rated in the same way as films. She said that many videos had strayed “into the realm of porn”.

“You don’t want to see your seven-year-old girls twerking all over the place,” she added.

In her speech, Church said that she supported Lennox’s demand for music-video ratings. “By making it harder for younger viewers to access it, then maybe the focus would shift to making works of artistic beauty and conscience,” she said.

Charlotte Church’s lecture is available on BBC iPlayer



Questions

1.) What differences do you notice between how men and women are commonly represented in the media?
2.) What effect might "unrealistic" portrayals of sexuality have on young people who are exposed to them?
3.) How do you feel about music videos being given ratings? Is this necessary?
4.) Are there any music artists who you aspire to be like? Why do you admire them?


Related resources


Introduction to media language

  • Introduce your students to media analysis terms with this useful PowerPoint presentation.

Representation in magazines

  • Encourage your students to question and deconstruct print representations.

Music videos and audience

  • Explore the world of the music video and what strategies the industry uses to targets its audience.

Challenge the Media

  • This booklet from Discover Human Rights contains activities and information on raising awareness of the sexualisation of girls and women.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week


The US government has been in shutdown since 1 October. Although talks have been ongoing about resolving the crisis, no agreement has yet been reached between the Democrats and the Republicans – the two parties that control American politics

The team overseeing the dismantling of Syria's store of chemical weapons has been named the surprise winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Tom Hanks vows to cast away big roles after diabetes diagnosis

World's first malaria vaccine could have 'significant impact' on population and economic growth.



In the news archive index