There’s not a lot of news out there when it comes to women this week in music, but I’ve included some other interesting things around Comic Con and Video Games. Enjoy!
Research suggests female listening habits skew far more toward contemporary hits than to esoteric or back-catalogue repertoire. Women are less likely than men to spend time searching out that rare Pixies B-side, and more predisposed to want convenient access to the latest popular music.
Women tend to prefer having content curated for them, while men, typically, prefer being in the discovery driving seat. Netflix is popular with women not just because of its great range of programming, but also because its recommendations are so effective, while back-to-back playback makes it easy to watch show after show without intervening.
Just as they would rather dominate the remote control and endlessly browse video services’ user interfaces, men get more of a kick out of music searching than most women.
“I think it’s pretty clear that when we say ‘pop star’ in the 2010s, we mean a woman,” says NPR Music critic Ann Powers. “Even if Ed Sheeran is selling as many records as his friend Taylor Swift, we’re not gonna think of him before we think of Taylor.” Partly, she says, that has to do with demographics: “What’s become eminently clear in the age of social media is that women dominate the pop audience. They define that conversation.” Adam Leber, who along with his business partner, Larry Rudolph, manages Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, and other high-powered ladies, agrees. “Females are sort of the new rock stars of this generation,” he says. “I think women are feeling more comfortable with themselves and more empowered than ever, and it’s exciting for the culture to see them doing what they want.” Miley is part of the current pantheon of performers who hardly need introduction (or a last name): Beyoncé, Rihanna, Taylor, Gaga, Katy, Nicki, and the eternal, if lately embattled, Madonna.
When you then think about how women are sexualised visually in hip-hop, and how often masculinity is considered the most important quality of all, you do have to concede there is at least some validity to the commonly held view that modern hip-hop is intrinsically misogynistic. Of course on the flip side there are many artists, and many songs, who use none of those words or visuals, but it is undeniable how common that misogynistic theme is.
“Interestingly, boys care less about playing as a male character as they age and girls care more about playing as a female one,” writes Wiseman.
Maybe it’s that, as girls get older and realise that there’s a representational imbalance in games, they seek out relatable characters in protest. Or perhaps it symbolises much deeper issues around young women, representation and identity.
The title of Wiseman’s article is “Everything you know about boys and video games is wrong”. That’s not quite true given there are enough boys – and men – who fight any suggestion of objectification in games to seemingly counter Wiseman’s survey base a hundred times.
Representation is a complex issue, especially within games. Here, a defensive fanbase feels as though it is constantly under attack from the wider media, which has spent the past 20 years dipping into gamer culture whenever it wants to shock readers with some technophobic tittle-tattle.
And perhaps a surprising one. Feminism is not necessarily what you would expect to find at a gathering of action-figure hoarders and superhero worshipers. Stereotypes die hard, and the popular image of a Comic-Con warrior is pale, doughy and male: the Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons,” and others like him. The hordes in the exhibition hall are, however, remarkably diverse with respect to gender, age, skin color, body type and disability — much more so than any film or music festival I’m acquainted with.
Quite a few panels reflected this variety and grappled with its implications. Nobody is suggesting that a utopian age of sexual and racial equality has dawned in San Diego or anywhere else. The default Comic-Con panelist is still a white man, but it does seem that more of an effort has been made to correct this lazy lopsidedness here than in, say, the Hollywood studios a few hours up the freeway. If the entertainment business is still dominated by interlocking old-boy networks — in the movie studios, the bigger comic-book publishers, the television networks and among the writers, artists and directors those entities employ — the audience is challenging that status quo.