Charlotte Church attacks 'sexist' music industry

Charlotte Church Charlotte Church said "lurid" stars were having a bad influence on young fans

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The music industry has a "culture of demeaning women" that forces stars to sell themselves as sex objects, according to singer Charlotte Church.

Church said she was "pressurised" into wearing revealing outfits in videos by male executives when she was 19 or 20.

Now 27, the star said young female artists were routinely "coerced into sexually demonstrative behaviour in order to hold on to their careers".

She made her comments during BBC 6 Music's annual John Peel Lecture.

Her stinging attack on sexism in the music industry comes amid a heated debate over the sexual imagery used by pop stars like Miley Cyrus and Rihanna.

The music business is "a male dominated industry with a juvenile perspective on gender and sexuality" and increasingly wants "sex objects that appear child-like", Church claimed.

The star accused record labels of encouraging young singers "to present themselves as hypersexualised, unrealistic, cartoonish, as objects, reducing female sexuality to a prize you can win".

She continued: "When I was 19 or 20 I found myself in this position, being pressurised into wearing more and more revealing outfits.

"The lines that I had spun at me again and again - generally by middle-aged men - were: 'You look great, you've got a great body, why not show it off?'

"Or: 'Don't worry, it will look classy, it will look artistic.' I felt deeply uncomfortable about the whole thing, but I was often reminded by record label executives just whose money was being spent."

She recalled feeling "massively uncomfortable" about dancing suggestively in little more than a basque and knee-high boots in the video for her single Call My Name in 2005.

Charlotte Church in 2005 Church said she had felt "massively uncomfortable" about being asked to wear revealing outfits

"Whilst I can't defer all blame away from myself, I was barely out of my teenage years and the consequence of this portrayal of me is that now I'm frequently abused on social media, being called slut, whore and a catalogue of other indignities," she said.

"Now I find it difficult to promote my music in the places it would be best suited because of my history."

She particularly criticised Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and Robin Thicke.

Cyrus's routine at the MTV Awards last month, in which she danced provocatively with Thicke and made suggestive gestures with a foam finger, sparked a furore over whether she had gone too far.

Sinead O'Connor wrote an open letter to the pop star, warning her not to be exploited by the music business.

Church also accused video websites of doing too little to prevent young viewers from being able to see explicit videos, and supported Annie Lennox's recent call to give pop videos film-style age ratings.

In her speech, delivered at the Radio Festival at The Lowry in Salford, Church added that radio stations should consider dropping singles by artists whose images were too risque.

Rihanna, Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus Rihanna, Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus have been criticised for risque routines

She said: "As Tony Hall, the BBC's director general, announces the new iPlayer channel for Radio 1, the question must be asked - should programmers take into consideration the image of an artist when deciding whether to play and promote their music?

"There are countless examples from the last few years of songs that have been in high rotation, that have little to no artistic worth, but are just plain rude."

BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour broadcast a special live edition on Saturday, dedicated to women in music, to mark the lecture.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    Charlotte is now at a point in her life that enables her to see things in perspective and realise it is only ever about money and these companies will do anything to make it and feel nothing for the people and in particular the girls they exploit in the process. People change, i always said i would never christen any kids i had but now as a dad of a 6 month year old i cant wait to do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    Each generation has it's artists deemed "too extreme" for the self-appointed "gate keepers of good taste." Did the1930s "Jezebel of Hollywood" Mae West bring Western culture tumbling down due to all her innuendos? No. Though, when asked, West said, "I believe in censorship, I made a fortune out of it." Keep up the good work, gate keepers, without you pop culture would be boring.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    I swooned over the Beatles, in my tiny mini-dresses which with my curly hair, long eyelashes and oversized earrings made me feel so fab, but later I realised we had been dressed up as pre-pubescent little girls. It's not until you get a few years on you that you realise you have been manipulated by the rag grade, now the music/video one. Childhood is precious, let's not cut it too short.

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    You can walk down any high street and see that there are some who dress in a sexual way, some who dress conservatively and many shades of grey in between. Yes people choose that. It is an observable fact that many who have it flaunt it, many who don't have it, still flaunt it - with some of the remainder protesting. This truly is the age of equality. The right to choose and the right to protest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    Well said Charlotte.

    Unfortunately, there are enough young women happy to oblige the record companies in order to be famous.

    This will only stop when the exemption of music videos from age ratings comes to an end and such treatment starts to threaten the record companies' bottom lines.


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