These Hours of Despair
Being a woman in my line of business is not easy. This applies to both the classical world and the metal scene. Both are worlds heavily dominated by men and sexism and preconceptions about female vocalists are an ever present reality. I wish that it wasn’t so, but that does not change the fact about the world(s) I intend to work in. That, however doesn’t mean that I have to accept everything that will be thrown my way, or to conform to these ancient, and rather square, practices. I don’t see why I shouldn’t be taken seriously by fellow musicians, directors, conductors or sound engineers. I also don’t see why I can’t be respected for my voice and talent alone: what does my looks have to do with anything? The battle for my basic rights, the same as a man’s in this world, will be a fight up hill. It won’t be easy and it will be a very, very, slow process. But I intend to fight every step of the way, because things need to change! Women are as talented, and they deserve to be treated with the same respect and courtesy, as men. Women do not need to be objectified or regarded as pretty ornaments in the front of a band… that won’t get us anywhere, except back at square one.
The reason I decided to make a post about this is, firstly, because I think that it is an important topic that needs to be discussed and secondly because I watched Amaranthe’s latest music video the other day.
Amaranthe is a Swedish metal band that mixes techno, pop and some metal elements. They have three vocalists, two men and one woman. I have never been a fan of their music or their videos, and I suspect I never will be. Their videos have been a thorn in my eye for quite some time, but this latest one is definitely the most sexist and objectifying one of all of them.
The title of the song is “Invincible” and the whole thing starts with all the band members leaving a concert in a “spectacular” way: they push off from the ground with their feet (leaving dents and cracks in the asphalt) and fly away. It appears that they are being hunted by someone and have to escape back to their space ship. All the male band members get to do action packed scenes, like stealing cars, dropping through roofs etc, and get to wear sensible clothes (leather jackets, jeans and good, solid, shoes). The woman, however, flies up into the air and is filmed from beneath so that everyone can get a good look at her crotch. Then she drops down into a pool (wtf?!) that she has to climb out of. Of course she is wearing minimal clothing (a tiny sleeveless jumpsuit in leather/latex and super high heels) and while she is ascending from the pool she is beeing filmed veeeeery slowly from her feet, up to her legs, up to her crotch and lastly stopping at her breasts. Once she is out of the pool there are some suggestive shots of her stripping off her wet jumpsuit and changing into a floor length dress and yet another pair of high heels. Then there are some shots of her hiding from her pursuer and then of her singing in a desert, wearing the tiny jumpsuit again, dancing suggestively against a rock. What is the meaning of this?!
This video is made and directed by a man and it is obviously targeted at a male audience. The woman, Elize, is just there to look pretty and sexy and not much of anything else. There is nothing in this video to suggest that she is a strong woman, capable of defending herself. There is nothing is this video that suggests that she has any talent of any kind. The only things she is good at, according to this video, is to look pretty, hide, change clothes and do a sexy dance. Nuanced picture of a woman? Not really…
As a woman I am extremely offended by this. I mean, this is what I will face every day once I leave the safety of school. I am also incredibly saddened by this. Elize is talented (she wouldn’t have studied at the musical theatre programe in Gothenburg otherwise) and, I hope, a smart woman. Why, then, would she consent to something like this? Why on earth would she let someone paint this picture of her, and women in general, and not put her foot down? This is not the only time she has been portrayed like this… she is objectified and portrayed as an ornament in every single one of their videos for goodness sake! So why isn’t she saying something? Does she like being seen that way? I wish I could get inside her head to see what she is thinking, but I can’t.
There are so many ways they could have done this video and it could have been so much better with just the smallest of tweaks… but no… they chose the sexist approach. Why is that? I can’t understand it… I really can’t.
I will not link this video on my blog since I find it so offensive, but you can look it up on youtube yourselves.
So, what do you think of this topic?