In an article, Pop\’s gender war: Sexism dictates the media profile of female stars in Wednesday\’s web version of The Independent Gillian Orr complained about the semi-regular appearance of article about women \”having a moment\” in music or about women breaking through to dominate the field.
Orr points out that women have not become break-out stars to the exclusion of men achieving success:
Of course, many male artists have broken through over the last few years. But you would be hard pushed to find an article discussing the successes of Tinie Tempah, Example, James Blake, Tinchy Stryder, Plan B, Paulo Nutini and Bruno Mars as some kind of trend. And seeing as this is hardly the first time that a woman has had a hit record, what exactly is going on here?
and she further notes that:
it is not as if female solo success is anything new. If you were to look further back, to cover the period from 1981, you would find that the list of bestselling artists each year for the last 30 years includes 10 women, eight men and 12 groups. Female performers have always had success and will always have success.
Orr asks an important question–why do we not look at the number of female label heads and executives and celebrate the women who have triumphed in those fields.
I think the constant drumbeat of articles about women having a moment in particular fields tells us more about the failure of women to achieve true equality than it does about their success.
Almost anyone who has taken an introductory course in journalism has read/heard the old saw \”dog bites man isn\’t a news story; man bites dogs is.\” That is because dogs biting men isn\’t the norm. Thus if every day the biggest headline in the newspaper was dog bites we would suspect that the news editor of that newspaper was out of touch with reality. The editor\’s \”default normal\” is dissonant with reality.
When article after article discovers the same thing year after year the reader begins to suspect that the facts that those articles report simply cannot fit into the \”default normal\” of the editors.