The musician Grimes, at the conclusion of her world tour, has written a terrific post on her Tumblr that’s basically a catalogue of the things she finds exhausting about being a woman in the industry she’s in. I’ve reproduced most of it here because it’s so striking:
i dont want to be molested at shows or on the street by people who perceive me as an object that exists for their personal satisfaction
i dont want to live in a world where im gonna have to start employing body guards because this kind of behavior is so commonplace and accepted and I’m pissed that when I express concern over my own safety it’s often ignored until people see firsthand what happens and then they apologize for not taking me seriously after the fact…
I’m tired of men who aren’t professional or even accomplished musicians continually offering to ‘help me out’ (without being asked), as if i did this by accident and i’m gonna flounder without them. or as if the fact that I’m a woman makes me incapable of using technology. I have never seen this kind of thing happen to any of my male peers
I’m tired of the weird insistence that i need a band or i need to work with outside producers (and I’m eternally grateful to the people who don’t do this)
im tired of being considered vapid for liking pop music or caring about fashion as if these things inherently lack substance or as if the things i enjoy somehow make me a lesser person
im tired of being congratulated for being thin because i can more easily fit into sample sizes from the runway
im tired of people i love betraying me so they can get credit or money
I’m sad that it’s uncool or offensive to talk about environmental or human rights issues
I’m tired of creeps on message boards discussing whether or not they’d “fuck” me
I’m tired of people harassing my dancers and treating them like they aren’t human beings
I’m sad that my desire to be treated as an equal and as a human being is interpreted as hatred of men, rather than a request to be included and respected (I have four brothers and many male best friends and a dad and i promise i do not hate men at all, nor do i believe that all men are sexist or that all men behave in the ways described above)
Her objections break down into a very clear dichotomy. In Grimes’ experience, she’s expected to be one of two things. The men who grope her, or her dancers, or who assume she has no real input in creating her music and that someone else must be behind it—and that they could be that someone else—or who discuss her as if she’s a merely penetrate-able object, or women who treat her like a conveniently-sized clothes rack assume a kind of emptiness to her. Her lack of agency is a plus for them: if she can’t have opinions, she also doesn’t have consent to give that would interfere with people’s actions or fantasies, opinions about her body that would prevent stylists from treating her a blank palette, or a distinct creative vision that might get in the way of other people using her as a vessel for their own musical ideas.
But when she has opinions, the bias is to interpret them negatively. The things she likes are frivolous. If she has political priorities, they get in the way of other people’s enjoyment of her. And if she advocates for herself, she’s interpreted to be trying to take things away from someone else. It’s almost as if what people are objecting to is Grimes having opinions, rather than being a consumer product.