Esperanza Spalding

Musicians: 6 Ways You Can Be An Ally

Women rarely get credit in the music industry for producing or writing. Only six women have been nominated to win a Grammy for Producer of the Year since 1974. Women are often reduced to the face of the music or a muse, even when they’ve done most of the work. Bjork and Esperanza Spalding, as well as many others, have suffered from sexism in the music industry.

Björk has been denied due credit for production on her albums for years. She exposes this by explaining how Arca got credited as the sole producer of Vulnicura. She did most of the production on Vespertine, yet her friend Matmos (Drew Daniel) was credited in publications as having produced the whole album. It infuriates me to hear that men are assumed to have done the writing, production, and deep thinking about a project. It’s time to give credit where credit is due.

Natalie Weiner from Billboard interviewed Spalding about a project with Gerri Allen and Terri Lyne Carrington. Spalding lauded the freedom of being in an ensemble without male control or contribution. “It can be really lonely to be a young woman in the music industry. We all had gone through a lot…and when we played, there was this understanding of a common experience that we'd all lived.” It’s our shared responsibility to break free from old-world belief that women are objects.

Here are steps you can take to be a better ally:

Educate – read articles and books about feminism; ask the women in your life to engage in dialogue about these topics

Be Strong – with the education you have gained, work to push back against the patriarchy

Be Open – be open to other perspectives; own your privilege and use it for good, not for silencing oppressed people

Rewrite – the idea of women as objects has been an ongoing problem in the music world and continues to be passed down to younger generations; do all that you can to undo this injustice and set a good example

Speak Out – speak out against microagressions and the patriarchy

Empower – support women to lift up all of society; power is not a zero-sum game

Due to the hegemony, women are often overlooked. This happens everywhere. If we can get over our egos, feminist theory can benefit the music industry. By following these six steps you can do your part to dismantle the patriarchy. Ask yourself: what can you do?