Burgers, Beth, and Bullshit

Serena Bhardwaj reviews Beth Cosentino's recent essay slating sexism in the music industry.

15th February 2016

Sexualisation; ‘when individuals are regarded as sex objects and evaluated in terms of their physical characteristics and sexiness’ - according to the American Psychological Association. Thanks to popular culture, it’s difficult to avoid sexism and society is all too wary to associate themselves with the dreaded ‘F word.’

Not long ago, a car mechanic politely told my mum that she should put more effort, time and money into looking after her car instead of her hair and nails. It shouldn’t take the fact that I’m a female to notice that his comments were completely inappropriate. One context where sexism has frequently angered me is within the music industry. ‘Outspoken boss’ and front woman of Best Coast, Bethany Cosentino seems to feel the same way.

In her recent article; ‘Burgers, Bitches and Bullshit’, the jangle-pop singer expresses her increasing dismay towards the treatment of females in the industry.

Beauty ideals are plastered across our culture telling females that their intelligence, talents and abilities will be assessed alongside their appearance

Although I wholeheartedly agree with the majority of what Cosentino says in the article I thought I’d first mention one argument which is slightly less convincing. She tells an anecdote of having a burger thrown at her during a gig and which she felt had ‘everything to do with the fact [she] is a female front woman’. I’m not so convinced. Tampons were thrown at One Direction, a bottle was thrown at Morrissey and Oasis had mud thrown at them. As a result it’s difficult to assume that the only reason Cosentino was burger-ed was due to the fact that she is female. It’s slightly presumptuous and almost as though she’s pulling at threads to prove her point that sexism exists in the industry.

To be honest, male and female singers get heckled and hit by objects frequently and it shouldn’t be accepted irrelevant of the gender. Irrespective of this, in her essay Cosentino goes on to highlight some valid problems relating to the sexualisation of women. When reading a recent review, it claimed that the band ‘sounded great’ whilst Bethany looked ‘sexy’. It’s a disgrace that her performance was assessed in terms of her appearance instead of her actual talent. Beauty ideals are plastered across our culture telling females that their intelligence, talents and abilities will be assessed alongside their appearance.

A prominent example of this is shown in the music video for Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’. Whilst the males are dressed normally, ‘singing’ sexist lyrics extremely poorly, ‘you the hottest bitch in this place’; the females prance around in skimpy outfits. The whole song and video lacks any musical substance but instead suggests ‘norms’ of society today - in other words, it focuses on the need for female beauty. It seems as though we can treat women in any which way we desire. I use the specific word ‘desire‘ crucially here as sexism appears to be driven by want and lust.

Bethany Cosentino is not the first to speak up against sexualisation and unfortunately she won’t be the last. In 2013, indie singer Grimes revealed that she’s often molested at shows yet this never happens to her male peers. I hope others read the articles by Cosentino and co because they couldn’t be more important in the sexist era we’re living in today. Something has to change.

Serena Bhardwaj 

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