Charlotte Church slams 'hyper-sexualised' music industry and 'unattainable sexbots' Rihanna and Miley Cyrus

 

Charlotte Church has launched a scathing attack on the music industry branding its depiction of women as “hyper-sexualised”, “cartoonish” and “male-dominated”.

In a far reaching address, the former classical-singer-turned-pop-star warned female artists of “denigrating” themselves and said decisions she had made at the behest of the music industry had left her open to a barrage of abuse that was still harming her career.

Speaking in Salford at an annual lecture in honour of the late broadcaster John Peel, Church, 27, said women were being “coerced” into sexual roles to cling on to their careers, while those using sexual imagery to boost their careers such as Rihanna and Cyrus were classified as “unattainable sexbots”. 

“The irony behind this is that the women generally filling these roles are very young, often previous child stars or Disney-tweens, who are simply interested in getting along in an industry glamourised to be the most desirable career for young women,” she said. “They are encouraged to present themselves as hyper-sexualised, unrealistic, cartoonish, as objects, reducing female sexuality to a prize you can win.”

Drawing on her own experiences the Welsh singer, whose top 10 hits included Crazy Chick and Call My Name, recalled her transition into pop music from a clean-cut classical singer. “When I was 19 or 20, I found myself…being pressured into wearing more and more revealing outfits and the lines that I had spun at me again and again (generally by middle aged men) were ‘you look great you’ve got a great body why not show it off?’ or ‘Don’t worry it’ll look classy.  It’ll look artistic’”

And in a warning to emerging stars, she added: “Now I find it difficult to promote my music in the places where it would be best suited because of my ’history’. But at the time it was the option presented to me.”

She added: “Whilst I can’t defer all blame away from myself, I was barely out of my teenage years, and the consequence of this portrayal of me is that now I am frequently abused on social media, being called ‘slut’, ‘whore’ and a catalogue of other indignities that I’m sure you’re also sadly very familiar with.”

The comments are likely to intensify debate over pop music’s increasing use of sexual imagery which has intensified since August after Miley Cyrus’s controversial performance at the MTV video music awards.

The former Hannah Montana actress’s performance drew widespread condemnation not least from Irish singer Sinead O’Connor who said her work was a measure of a music industry that was intent on exploiting her.

O’Connor later threatened legal action after Cyrus replied to her open letter with a series of Tweets which appeared to mock her history of bipolar disorder.

But in an unflinching speech, that will be broadcast at midnight on 6 Music, Church described the exchange as symptomatic of “online pissing contests” that “only serve to detract from the strong messages being put forward by [other] artists .”

Even those not known for propagating sexual imagery were addressed in Church’s speech which will be broadcast on Radio 6 at midnight. Taking the example of Adele, Church said: “Lyrically her songs are almost without exception written from the perspective of the wronged woman, an archetype as old as time, someone who has been let down by the men around her, and is subsequently in a perpetual state of despair.”

She added: “The culture of demeaning women in pop music is so ingrained as to become routine, from the way we are dealt with by management and labels, to the way we are presented to the public”.

Church’s fame started at the age of 11 when she sang classical music during a telephone interview on ITV's This Morning. She went on to release a number of classical albums before having a successful pop career. In her speech she said: “If Rihanna had not grown up watching the videos of the nineties then it might not be quite so essential for her to portray her sexuality so luridly, so constantly, and so influentially upon the next generation.”

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea