Diva Ain’t A Dirty Word:
Why being a diva might just save your sanity.
My two sisters and I form a country-pop trio ‘The Logans’, and the past year has opened our eyes to just exactly what sexism in the industry looks and feels like.
It seems that the universe was being not-so-subtle in its wish for me to write this piece. Recently, my two sisters and I found ourselves having dinner in the company of 150 men to celebrate the life of Robert Burns in the Mary Barbour suit in Govan's Pearce Institute. As fate would have it, this fell on the day that Mary Barbour’s statue was unveiled. While Burns has always been of one my biggest inspirations as a poet and songwriter since I was a child, the irony was not lost on me that I knew next to nothing about the life of Mary Barbour (a woman from Govan, Glasgow, who led the resistance against landlords taking advantage of the wartime economy by raising rents). Not only this, an impromptu opportunity to attend the Ricky Ross’ C2C Q&A sessions featured an interview with Kelsea Ballerini that discussed the difficulties women face in a patriarchal music industry. With the turn of the #MeToo movement, it’s time for women in the music industry to speak of their experiences of sexism, and it’s time for us to celebrate the wonderful women who have, and continue to break social barriers for our fellow womankind.
Many female artists will find that the industry often exploits their female disposition. Women can be lured into situations on the basis of trust, only to find that individuals doing things “in their best interests” really means doing whatever suits them and women better just be grateful for the crumbs off of the table. Speaking of being grateful, have you ever noticed how being a woman seems to imply that you have to do extremely difficult, or just down right uncomfortable things, out of ‘love’. The questions of ‘love for what exactly?’ has been circling my mind recently- have some women to love having no creative control in their own career? Or maybe love everyone but them benefiting from their work? If not, surely, they must love being made to feel that others know better than they do about their own musical capabilities. Well I don’t know about you but those are weird things to be in love with. Perhaps Taylor Swift meant to sing “it’s a love story, baby just say…shut up and do as you are told”.
I have heard many people say that the up-surge in women-power songs trending in the charts must be a sign that women are finally being given (given being the operative word) a voice in this male-dominated industry, and that their stories of disillusion and strife are being shared. Unfortunately, I have to vote largely in the negative. What you may not have noticed, is that many of the female power songs are in fact written by men. As musicians, arguably our greatest income is generated from our song writing. Not only are we telling women that they are not capable or valuable enough to tell their own stories, we are also telling them that men can tell it better, women can front the façade, and men can financially benefit from women’s struggles. It’s enough to make you roll your eyes so far back into your head that they might just stay there.
To top it all off, women must dare not challenge this order lest they be called divas, spoiled, difficult and not to mention a bi**h- 'You ungrateful bi**h! What do you mean you want to write your own songs?'
We must take our foot off the gas for a moment and offer a piece of hope for us women. Throughout all of our difficulties as women in the music industry, my sisters and I have been extremely fortunate to have men in our lives who have supported us, recognised the injustices that we have faced, and spurred us on to challenge this order- these men we love and admire. I hope that the women and men who recognise the sexism that runs through the veins of our culture continue to rise together and make enough noise that those who are asleep are woken up. This change is vital for both men and women alike: our progress depends on it.
You may be reading this and thinking "this has all happened/is happening to me" and be in an industry that couldn't be further from ours. It's not a music thing, it's a culture thing, and I hope you know that you are the change.
Calling all women in the music industry and beyond: you are not difficult for asking questions, you are not a bi**h for having your own vision, you are not spoiled for finding certain behaviours or situations unacceptable, and you are certainly not a diva for challenging a patriarchal system. If anyone wants you to believe that being a strong woman is equal to being a diva, then call me a diva. Maybe diva ain’t such a dirty word after all.
Today I want to embrace your personal diva- Don’t be scared to ask for what you need, and if you don’t get the answer you are looking for, don’t be scared to ask again- because diva ain’t a dirty word.