This post is the first of a two-part series on the blog centred around the debate of whether you can still be a feminist if you listen to misogynistic music. In this article, Neive considers this debate in relation to the indie genre.
Every strand of the music industry is encompassed by at least a degree of misogyny and the indie genre is no exception. Separating art and artist is a debate that has caused significant divide in this genre in particular, although it is often not characterised as such (which is another issue in itself), and the undeniable sexism which is at play is inexcusable. As much as it would pain me to stop listening to some of my favourite artists, I think the issue of continuing to support them boils down to the fact that by supporting them, you are indirectly supporting their views by default.
It goes beyond just lyrics it appears too, and so think that is an integral turning point for when it becomes acceptable to continue supporting such bands. It is incidents such as Catfish & The Bottlemen’s infamous merch stand poster from a few years ago, which makes you stop and consider what the bands you are listening to are really thinking. The aforementioned poster is blatant objectification, as much as it may have been intended as a joke. I think that with instances like this, there is an extent to which it is a joke, but an important factor to consider is how much the ideas and beliefs behind the joke are genuine. Of course, there is always room to reform and learn from past mistakes, and with this being a few years ago, it is completely possible that since then, the band have been educated.
At the end of the day, not everyone is automatically aware of the injustice and prejudice within our society, especially if you come from a place of social privilege. Begrudging someone the opportunity to educate themselves and overcome their internalised discriminatory attitudes is unfair. However, when no attempts are made to rectify this misogynistic mindset, I think it becomes evident that this issue is of no concern to the artist.
As a band, regardless of the size or number of fans, you are awarded with at least some level of power and obviously there are bands that use this power for good and at least try to assert a positive influence over fans who are often young, impressionable and vulnerable. Despite this, it is integral to acknowledge the artists who abuse this power and take advantage of their audiences.
It is bands like Misfires and Mooseblood, who have been publicly condemned and accused of using their status to sexually harass and take advantage of their fans. Yet still, there are some fans continuing to support them, and festivals continuing to book these artists, and here in lies the issue. By providing continual support despite their actions, you are ultimately funding their pursuits and allowing their career to flourish.
This could be detrimental- allowing them to have influence and power over an even wider audience and showing they can just behave in this manner without any backlash is completely wrong. I think in cases like these, separating art and artist is not possible. An artist’s personal life and beliefs have such a significant impact on their art, and thus their misogyny and art are intertwined. Therefore, supporting these artists extends to supporting their misogyny and so it is imperative we do not separate the two and instead actively criticise their views and prompt a change by showing acting in this manner is unacceptable.
Written by Neive McCarthy (@neiveeee on Twitter).