Breaking the Glass Mic
Three female artists who have taken a stand against misogyny in the music industry
By: Juliette Shea
Navigating the music industry as a woman isn’t easy. Female artists often encounter subtle sexist jabs, unattainable standards, and dismissive remarks throughout the course of their careers. Levels of objectification are heightened as talent and song success are often tied to one’s physical appearance and popularity.
Nonetheless, female artists have played a significant role in challenging and changing the music industry for decades. These three trailblazing artists, among others, have made breakthroughs in the music industry by utilizing their unique voices, musical sounds, and platforms to challenge sexism and advocate for equality.
Deemed one of the most successful female songwriters of the late 20th century, Carole King paved the way for gender equality in the music industry. She began her career in the ‘60s as a songwriter. Still, it wasn’t until 1971 when she had her claim to fame as a musician with the release of her album Tapestry, which ultimately became the anthem for female empowerment. The album is a tribute to the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and ‘70s and catalyzed the legitimization of “women as creative subjects and economic agents in the popular music industry.”
Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile is a devoted feminist and vocal activist in the music industry. In the words of Carlile herself, “Who wants to be called a female artist? We just want to be artists.” Carlile aims to revolutionize the industry. Teaming up with Amanda Shires, Maren Morris, and Natalie Hemby, Carlile also has a side gig as part of The Highwomen, an all-female country supergroup. The Highwomen’s mission is to foster unity and support among women in the country music scene, addressing the longstanding issue of gender imbalance within this genre.
Beyoncé is the embodiment of feminism in the music industry and has continued to drive change since her debut album in 2003. Hits like “Run the World (Girls)” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” are anthems of female empowerment and promote values of self-worth and resilience. Moreover, Beyoncé’s hour-long visual album Lemonade is deemed a masterpiece of Black Feminism, as it delves into the “story of the resilient black woman, one who is never rigid but explores her emotions.” This visual album seamlessly weaves together personal experiences, historical references, and quotes from influential feminists to bring the conversation around black womanhood into the spotlight.