Pitchfork Editor Jess Hopper Moved To Tears At Brisbane’s Bigsound: “We Need Everybody To Show Up For Women”
Bigsound, Australia’s biggest annual music conference, has been happening all over Brisbane over the past week — and, as well as the incredible live music, there have been some equally moving speeches by prominent people in the industry.
One such impassioned speech was by Pitchfork Senior Editor and author of The First Collection Of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic Jessica Hopper, who spoke to us about women in music back in July, and was a keynote speaker at the event on Thursday. Talking to the audience at Judith Wright Centre’s Performance Space, she spoke about music’s anachronistic systematically-oppressive White Boys Club, and the inherent sexism that flourishes because of this.
“In the music world, there is a hierarchy that places men — and especially male artists — up at the top,” she said, adding “and people subscribe to that.”
Hopper said that while the consumption of music by women is in fact higher than men worldwide, music companies still don’t take women seriously — and women making music are regarded for pretty much anything other than what their music offers.
— Geneva Valek (@GenevaValek) September 10, 2015
— Darren Levin (@darren_levin) September 10, 2015
While tweets filled the screen behind her, Hopper was eventually brought to tears recounting the times women in the music industry had been shut up and put down, and even sexually assaulted — the latter of which a colleague experienced and shared, only to be dismissed and see the perpetrators continue to play shows. “What does the message of that tell us?” she asks.”That our bodies don’t matter? That this is not a space where women count — where women are a reward for a show well played?”
“That is the message that happens when men do not stand up and say this can’t happen.
“This is why we need anybody who is moved by these tweets to show up for women. To show up for the women at these shows. To show up for all of the women who have been so discouraged by their experiences and encounters when they come into these spaces that they quit; that they stop going to shows; that they stop making music.”
Woke up to 12 emails this morning from men who heard my #bigsound15 talk asking for resources, connections, for making music spaces safer.
— Jessica Hopper (@jesshopp) September 10, 2015
Hopper didn’t just regale her audience with depressing acts of sexism, but also offered strong advice for both women and men on how to shift the culture to be more inclusive. She encouraged men to listen to and “witness what women are up against”; for venues to hire female sound engineers, and put into place solid zero tolerance policies for harassment (“and actually follow it up”).
“Or maybe you can do things like don’t invite Chris Brown to perform at your Grammy’s — three or four times in a row,” she said. “But most importantly, don’t make us carry this burden alone — that is the most important part.”