The problem with corporate feminism is that it believes that the route to equality is simply a numerical one – if anything, tokenism in society, and especially workplaces, is just as degrading. But it’s clear through last year’s major festival line-ups that there wasn’t even a numerical balance between male and female musicians playing.
An investigation by the Guardian last year revealed that the line-up for Reading and Leeds consisted of 94% men and Download was even worse at 96%. Overall, across the 12 major UK festivals, 86% of performers were male. It goes without saying that women are just as talented as men, so why are women underrepresented and why are festivals such a sausage fest?
Unfortunately it would appear that the music industry is still horrifically backward-looking and outdated in terms of its attitude towards women. It’s strange that an industry that is constantly on its toes and reinventing itself due to the pressure of digitalisation can, without much regard, leave women behind, while constantly modernising in every other way.
Simply adding more women to line-ups for the sake of better-looking statistics would just be insulting, though – women deserve to play at festivals on merit alone, and acts such as St. Vincent, Grimes, Hinds have the potential to all be headliners in the future, but whether they will be or not is an entirely different conversation.
The imbalance is not only discouraging to female musicians but also to female festival goers. Where are their heroes? Where’s their inspiration to pick up an instrument? Should they even bother, if they clearly won’t get noticed? It’s disappointing that the industry remains so sexist, and the problems run far deeper than just the numbers themselves.