Charli XCX Interviews Female Musicians For A BBC Documentary About Feminism

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You’re already familiar with her badass vocals on tracks like Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy’, and her own summer smash anthem ‘I Love It’. British singer Charli XCX is a force to be reckoned with and is taking the world by storm, touting feminism as one of her banner issues along with her music.

Charli is not the lone female wolf in the music industry who stands for feminism and who has spoken out about the discriminatory sexist ways female artists are treated. Bjork, Grimes and Nicki Minaj are just a few notable names who have detailed their own experiences being treated in a manner that would be standard fare amongst men.

In her HBO Documentary ‘Life is But A Dream’ Beyoncé talks about the inspiration to her girl power smash ‘Girls (Run The World)’ saying the treatment of women in the music industry and elsewhere in the world is what the song points to.

” Women have to work much harder to make it in this world. It really pisses me off that women don’t get the same opportunities as men, or money, for that matter. Because lets face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define our values, and to define what’s sexy, and what’s feminine, and that’s bullshit! At the end of the day its not about equal rights, its about how we think. We have to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead, and reach as high as humanly possible. That’s what I’m gonna do, that’s my philosophy. And that’s what ‘Girls’ is all about,” she said.

And of course her famous pose in front of a massive ‘Feminist’ sign at the 2014 VMAs squashed all doubts about what she stands for.

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INGLEWOOD, CA – AUGUST 24: Beyonce performs onstage at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

But it seems there is a movement among women speaking out about the injustices they face, and Charli has now added her voice to this in a prominent way. In a documentary for BBC3 called “The F Word and Me”, she interviews other artists such as Marina and the Diamonds singer Marina Lambrini Diamandis, Jack Antonoff from Bleachers (aka Lena Dunham’s boyfriend), and singer Ryn Weaver to discuss what feminism means to them, and how it fits in within the current musical landscape.

“The ’F word’ — that’s feminism — is everywhere. Young kids are being blasting with what feminism is because Beyoncé’s standing in front of a massive screen that says ’feminism’ on it. And that’s great,” says Charli in the documentary.

She talks about the surge of girl-bands and girl power which we saw in groups such as The Spice Girls, but adds even they were reduced to stereotypes despite the seemingly empowering message. Today there is a generation of women breaking free from the trappings of the music industry trope of selling female artistry on sexuality alone, choosing to take control over their aesthetic to prove they can be empowered by other means.

Artists like Beyonce and Miley Cyrus are constantly fielding criticism and dividing many female opinions on whether they way they choose to present their sexuality and dress a certain way is empowering or still caving into the music industry, despite it being their decision.

One of the aspects of being a female artist that Charli takes issue with is constantly being asked “what it is like being a woman in the music industry” which she discusses with Marina. The ‘Fruit’ singer responds by basically saying it is a conversation still worth having.

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“For me it’s not annoying. I do still think it’s relevant. Actually asking the question has made the topic very popular. For me personally there are a lot of things that still have to happen for women in music,” she said.

Tackling the body image aspect of feminism in music in a different way, Charli chats with Ryn Weaver about choosing not to shave her armpit hair and how others like Madonna and Miley Cyrus have recently made bold statements doing the same thing. For these women including Ryn and Charli, they believe it sends a message to young girls, who are so used to looking at tabloid magazines and excessively photoshopped celebrities, that being beautiful and sexy doesn’t have to be dictated by the media. The idea of self-directed body image and confidence in itself is a rebellious feminist statement going against the grain of conformity.

“For young girls who grow up with People magazine, and OK [magazine] and porn, I think it’s really amazing,” says Charli.

“This is the way you’re meant to look..you get to do whatever the hell you want to do with your own body because it’s your body and it’s not property of public domain…It just makes you seem more human and makes [little girls] feel like [they’re] allowed to be normal,” responds Ryn.

While image and fashion aren’t altogether demeaning topics, it’s when women in the public eye are constantly reduced to beings whose only value revolves around that, by the constant narrow barrage of questions relating to physical appearance, that it becomes a problem and starts to send the wrong message to female fans. Charli says it has become a frustrating aspect of her career having to field questions like this.

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“I don’t really care about people who ask me what type of feminist I am or if I think it’s valid for me to be a feminist because I wear a short skirt. I think that’s just a stupid, stupid, stupid conversation,” she said.

By contrast, her interview with Jack Antonoff allows a male perspective on this issue and the two talk about the blatant double standards dished out to women compared to men. The idea of a man being a producer and songwriter, as well as singer is pretty standard, but to see an uber successful woman in the same light is often harder.

“No one wants to believe Taylor Swift writes the songs. And that’s such crap,” he said about working with the ‘Bad Blood’ popstar.

It’s more than just a feminist documentary, it is a challenging piece of pop culture insight that will hopefully help shape a generation of music fans and the way they look at female artists compared to men. The fight for female musicians to reclaim control over their public image while also being seen as legitimate as men who have gone against the grain and committed rebellious acts of non-conformity is ongoing, but fans have a crucial role to play.

Charli states that it is more important to focus on women as artists, rather than gendered beings who happen to play music. Perhaps then the issues of femininity in the music industry won’t be so problematic.

“Being a woman and talking about being a woman in this specific industry is such a confusing and layered subject. Everyone is aware that this question of what it’s like to be a woman in the music industry is important, but everybody is also kind of sick of it. And I think that maybe the better question is ‘What’s it like to be an artist?’” she asks.

If you are in the UK you can watch the documentary on the BBC3 website, and for the rest of us here are a couple of clips shared online which you can watch below:

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