Category Archives: Pick Guards – Music Analysis
This isn’t about what you think it is…
Ok, it is, but not exactly. I am sure you are aware of the grossly sexed-up instrument ads that feature buxom bikini blonds selling you the latest guitar, amp, or pedal FX. Like this ad for example. ‘Cause you know, nothing says this thing is awesome than double DDs in your face. Much like car ads with waify models spread upon them, or beer ads that proclaim you will get laid by this hot babe if you down this particular ale, advertising relies heavily on sexualized and objectified (heterosexual) feminine bodies to persuade you to buy their product. See Gender Ads for a complete work on the subject.
However, this post isn’t exactly about that. It’s about breasts, yes, but about those players who actually have them and play the instrument, not merely are advertising tools.
Anyways, so what do I mean? Well, as a guitar player, who is quite endowed on the top half, just simply playing your guitar can be uncomfortable and require some adjustments. Unless you can literally play your guitar so low that it hits your knees, you probably need to wear your guitar somewhere around your hips to waist. If you have double DDs for example, the guitar strap either has to squeeze right in between your breasts, or over one of them, causing a bit of a squish, if you will. Your breasts then are either extremely obvious with the guitar strap nestled in between them as you play, or, your breast hurts because it is being suffocated as you belt out how much you love rock and roll. It’s tough being a girl, and all we wanna do is have fun. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.)
Ok, you say. So, why don’t you just play sitting down then? Great question! Similar problem. Consider acoustic guitars for example. You know the classic dreadnought shape, and most are quite sizable. They usually have to be to get rich tone. Sit down with one as a large-breasted woman, and again, adjustments are needed. You can either hold the guitar in front of you, covering your top, but yet again, squishing as you lean over to play, or as I have done before, try to fandangle one breast to sit in the curve of the guitar and the other behind it. Ok, it’s not the most rockstar pose. Frankly it’s weird, annoying, and again, makes playing your instrument while having to worry about how you appear painfully obvious.
It’s bad enough that women as performers have to be constantly aware of their appearance, both sexually and physically, without then having to worry if they can play their instrument without more googley-eyed stares. Looks come before talent in much of our culture, and female artists have to balance between their own personal desires when it comes to their appearance, and what everyone else expects of them to look like. Add on to that, playing your instrument in a somewhat comfortable manner.
So when do female artists get news coverage?
That is a question I have been pondering over the past month. I use a news feed reader to syndicate various current music magazines and websites such a Rolling Stone, Spin, Pitchfork, Exclaim, NPR Music, BBC Music, Blender, Vibe, Venus, as well as, a few smaller ones, and a local Seattle, WA source or two (75 total feeds, 37 different sources.) I then filter out the women in music news for Jukebox Heroines. But, as I have noticed when I scan the headlines, female artists seem to get press for things that have nothing to do with their musicianship. Shocker! Wanting to actually see how poorly music outlets cover female musicians, I decided to do an informal survey.
So, from December 1, 2010 (midnight) to January 7, 2011 (midnight), I cataloged the women in music headlines from my feed reader. “Women in music” articles where articles that mentioned a female artist, an all-female band, musical group with at least one female member, or something specific relating to women in music, such as gender imbalances, women on the top charts, ect, in the article headline. But what I wanted more specifically to find out is when they are covered, are they talked about as musicians in terms of their musicianship, or other things not related to their profession?
Musicianship here will be defined as: Information about touring, music creation, chart success, new music/albums, music videos, concert footage, personal interviews, collaborations, and/or events. These are the things you expect to read about a musician in a music magazine.
I noted how many article headlines mentioned female artists or bands. Once I had this data, I looked for patterns in news coverage. The patterns fellow into the following categories:
Musicianship, Appearance/Sexuality, Babies!, Relationships, Emotions, and Miscellaneous Non-Music Related Activities
Here are the numbers:
- Total news feeds – 75 (37 different sources)
- Total music articles in my feed – 5,318
- Total “women in music” articles –358
- Total articles on musicianship –224
- Total articles not on musicianship –134
- Total days of the study – 38
- Average “women in music” news article per day – 9.4
- Average “women in music” article relating to musicianship – 5.9
- Average “women in music” article per source per day – .25
- Average musicianship article per source per day – .16
News about female artists accounted for 6.7% of all music articles in the feeds. News that was actually about female artists’ musicianship was 4.2%.
I then broke down the articles that did not have to do with musicianship into the following categories. The number of articles per category are listed below.
- Appearance/Sexuality – 19
- Babies! – 6*
- Relationships – 28
- Emotions – 5
- Health/Death – 21**
- Misc. Non-Music Related Activities – 55
So, to sum. Women were 6.7% of all total music articles from Dec. 1-Jan.7. and 4.2% of all articles actually about their musicianship.
Out of those articles that mentioned women, 62.6% actually discussed news that was about the artist as a musician and not other endeavors personal or professional. The other 37.4% did not mention the artists’ musicianship.
Female artists who were not covered as artists were talked about in relation to their relationship/marital status 20.9% of the time, pregnancy/children 4.5%, their looks 14.2%, their feelings/emotional outbursts 3.7%, Health or Death 15.7%, and general non-music related activities such as social or political actions, legal issues, finances, gossip 41.0% of the time.
* Six articles in this category were about Mariah Carey’s twins.
** Two news topics (Aretha Franklin’s cancer and the death of Teena Marie) accounted for all of the Health category.
Music sources reported on women in music an average of less than 1 article per day over research period.