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 276.

    Church sums it up in one word: "Juvenile". There is a whole industry targeting juvenile insecurity about sexuality to sell clothes, magazines, pop-music etc.. Overall they account for minority of all media/fashion sales but impressionable teenagers represent the largest single demographic. It's even creeping into pre-teen toys like Bratz

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    "Charlotte Church attacks 'sexist' music industry"

    Is she one of the 'attackers' the BBC kept referring too recently?

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    I would agree - unfortunately it is driven by us, the public.

    Unfortunately no-one is gong to be thrilled by a singer who turnes up in a onesy with just got out of bed hair and last night's make-up smudged all over their face. And the stars are all out there to out-do each other to get our attention.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    Scantily clad women "promote" music. And this is degrading and exploitation.

    So, the fact that a certain diet cola drink has been using topless men for decades... A certain brand of chocolate based confectionery uses male strippers....

    Double standards spring to mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    It's hard to criticise an approach which has made your fortune, without appearing to be a hypocrite.

    Presumably, there are people employed to regulate such media?

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    This is evidence that the world is un-evolving perhaps? Everything has to be "sexy" eg the minstrels ad with the strippers or the diet coke ad with the blatant ogling of a topless man.....

    Thought id throw an example of both genders in for balance......

  • Comment number 270.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    Re #259


  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    They do it because it gets them noticed. And its worked, hasn't it?

  • 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 266.

    If Rhianna, Miley et al want to be exploited, then carry on. There will always be a "performer" who is only out to make the fast buck and isn't really interested in the music.
    Just don't turn around in 20 years time that you want to be remembered for your music or as a role model for young girls!

    Pity Radio 1 (BBC) didn't ban your records like they did Frankies Relax!

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    My dearest Charlotte...nobody put a gun to your head and forced you to do it. It was your decision and it sold records and made you millions. Nor did anyone make you drink as much booze as you did , nor did they make you choose the wrong partners. The choices were all yours. Blame? Look in the mirror.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    I would put this extreme exhibitionist culture - which even family programmes like X Factor have promoted - alongside the Muslim issue of extreme concealment of the female body. No wonder Muslim cultures fear domination of their own values by western values.

    I think that extremes breed each other. By encouraging this exploitative exhibitionism, we also encourage the reaction against it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    Rap killed all creativity in music - now anybody can record anything and
    the great unwashed will rip it, or buy it, or listen to it - even the great Ray
    Charles panned it on the Johnny Carson show as complete garbage - RIP

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    The majority of young female singers (I use the word advisedly) today, have no talent,. screeching voices and little self respect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.


    No you were not spot on. The first two definitions do not apply - and applying the third one involves you making an assumption about the individual in question that you are in no position to make.

    In other words you did use the word incorrectly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.


    Was going real well until you referred to Celine Dion and Shania Twain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    Some "singers" have to sell the sexy look - like Church, it's all they've got! Real singers like Sande and Adele don't need to do it because they have real talent. Sure, some exec pushed you to strip off and sell yourself... they realised you don't have the talent to do it any other way! And what did you get for it? Millions. You can't sell your dignity and then moan about it years later!

  • 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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    This has nothing to do with men making women do what they don't like. This has all to do with low-brained, less artistic clowns who need to compensate their absolutely rubbish output by adding distractions such as the M. Cyrus routine. Celine Dion, Adele and Shania Twain don't display their undies or boobs. Yet their lyrics are endless classics. Same for ABBA, Deon Warwick, etc.


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