Pop star Ariana Grande took to Twitter on Sunday to post a fiery essay about sexism in the music industry. It comes on the heels of Grande's split with rapper Big Sean, and the subsequent speculation that the singer is romantically linked to One Direction's Niall Horan. In her Twitter essay, she writes, "I am tired of living in a world where women are mostly referred to as a man's past, present or future."
In a few hundred words, she perfectly encapsulates the ridiculous double standard all female musicians face.
Grande joins a chorus of female musicians who are speaking openly about sexism in the music industry. It takes many forms, but among the most pernicious are the persistent idea of a "man behind the music," the sexualization of female performers and their presumed naïveté and, of course, the idea that women writing songs about their exes is somehow shallower than men who write on the same subject.
One of many. The misogynistic double standard in the music industry is, sadly, nothing new. Taylor Swift has been particularly outspoken about that standard, telling Australian radio show Jules, Merrick and Sophie back in October, "You're going to have people who are going to say, 'Oh, you know, like, she just writes songs about her ex-boyfriends.' And I think frankly that's a very sexist angle to take. No one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars. They're all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life, and no one raises the red flag there."
The double standard is more than just an inconvenience for female performers: It opens the door to deeper and more persistent forms of sexism that infiltrate women's everyday lives. Lauren Mayberry, the lead singer of the British band Chvrches, is an especially vocal advocate for women in the music industry.
"Is the casual objectification of women so commonplace that we should all just suck it up, roll over and accept defeat? I hope not," she writes in the Guardian. "Objectification, whatever its form, is not something anyone should have to 'just deal with.'"
Thanks to artists like Mayberry, Swift and Grande, female musicians can air their grievances in hopes of bettering the industry for everyone. And the best way to do that, as Grande quotes from Gloria Steinem, is with sisterhood.