Category Archives: sexism

I Knew When I First Saw You on the Showroom Floor

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading recently.  I just finished Electric Ladyland last night, which is about women and rock.  While reading, I found a quote that I couldn’t get out of my head. I sent it on to Amanda because we’re working on something and I thought it would be of benefit to her, too. I’m going to share it here as well, because I’m curious about what our readers might think.

“Even after I realized women were barred from any active participation in rock music, it took me a while to see that we weren’t even considered a real part of the listening audience.  It was clear that the concerts were directed only to men and the women were not considered people, but more on the level of exotic domestic animals that come with their masters or come to find masters. Only men are assumed smart enough to understand the intricacies of the music.” –Susan Hiwatt, “Cock Rock”, an essay from Twenty-Minute Fandangos and Forever Changes

First of all, before the roaring chorus of “No way!!” begins, I feel as though context may be important.  I found this quote in Electric Ladyland, but it came from the essay cited above. Electric Ladyland examines the role of women in music, whether as musicians, writers, or groupies (anyone want to guess why I was reading?).  More specifically, the book targets the years of 1960 through the 1970’s. Anyone who has properly studied that time in history knows how much change occurred during that nearly twenty year period (1960-1979ish).  The quote came from something written in 1971, but I’m wondering how much of it still hold true today, and for the sake of argument, we can take Duran Duran for an example.

I don’t necessarily think that Duran Duran bars women from active participation, per se. I mean, I’ve been to concerts. So have many of our readers. It’s pretty clear they’re on board with the whole “there are women in our audience” thing.

That said, let’s take a few things into consideration. The band itself has never really gotten respect from critics and the like. Part of that reason is because of their following. And who made up most of their following?  Us. Women. Girls. Teenyboppers. Even today, when the band talks about their audience in interviews, they are certain to bring up the fact that their audience has broadened to include men. The point is, if it didn’t matter, I don’t think they’d bring it up.

Let’s talk about the concert itself since that’s something mentioned in the quote I shared. If you spend any time at all looking at the video screens behind the band, the images are mainly of women. Not ALL, but most. This has always amused me, because if the audience is primarily women, and we’re watching the show, which includes the screens…who are those images for, then?  Sure, we can and should argue that girls/women/models/etc has always been a part of Duran Duran’s entire visual package. Even so, there’s part of me that wonders, if the women in the audience cannot tear their eyes away from Simon for even a second to see the screens behind them, who is watching those screens?  Their dates?? Maybe. So while I wouldn’t argue the entire concert is directed towards men (hardly!), I do think there are images there designed for them. Not a bad thing, I’m definitely not condemning the band for them, I’m acknowledging what they’re designed to do.

Now, about that whole exotic domesticated animal thing. I’m not gonna lie – anytime I read words like that I think of “The Man Who Stole a Leopard”, which I feel is symbolism for a lot of different things.  But, when I get past that thought, I would agree that it’s difficult for me to see a Duran Duran concert in that same light. But isn’t that part of the reason why critics had such trouble giving Duran Duran even an ounce of credit back in the 80s?  The band wasn’t playing just for guys, or just for girls for that matter. They were meant for everyone.

On the other hand, I feel like there are a plethora of other examples, particularly in hard rock, where women are merely the eye candy for the evening. The music is meant for men, and they can bring their women along with them for the evening. Or women can show up on their own and then go looking for men! While I’m not saying that can’t happen at a Duran Duran concert, I’m also saying that they’re not the first band that pops into my mind when that scenario is discussed.

What about Duran Duran’s videos? This is another area that I think we have to at least acknowledge packaging.  Let’s be honest: many of their videos have beautiful women in them. Girls on Film, Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Falling Down, Girl Panic, New Moon on Monday, Careless Memories…I could go on and on.  They don’t just put women in their videos for their own benefit. They’re there to attract the audience the label (and maybe even the band) would like to have: men. Now why is that?  Why are men so important, and why is it that even when a band has millions upon millions of ardent female fans, why are they never given credit?

It’s not just Duran Duran in that boat, and it’s not just the 80’s we’re talking about here. The Beatles, Bay City Rollers, New Kids on the Block, N*Sync, Backstreet Boys, and yes, One Direction. By any account, all of those bands were (and still are) very successful. Millions of fans, sold-out tours,  and #1 records to go all around. In every example given, women make up the majority of their fans, and in every case the critical acclaim has never quite been there. (with the possible exception of The Beatles, where the majority of their critical success came after the band broke up). I just don’t think that’s   purely coincidence.

“Only men are assumed smart enough to understand the intricacies of the music.” 

If I am to understand that quote correctly, if men like the music – I think of Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Rolling Stones, The Police, etc – it’s because the music is genuinely good, men get that, and that is why they choose those bands to follow.  If an audience is made up of women and girls, it is because those women don’t really get the music. I mean, how could they – they’re too busy looking at the band to hear much else, and they don’t really understand music anyway. Ah. I see.

I can remember sharing my thoughts about various songs the band has done over the years. Amanda and I have done many reviews on the blog or even on YouTube. I never failed to be amused by some of the comments we received, some of which came incredibly close to a virtual pat on the head, explaining that while we’re cute, we don’t understand music.

Outraged, I’d write back, sharing my education with them. I would punch at the keys on my computer as though each one was hurting the (typically) male who dared question my intelligence. But then one day, I got smart and stopped responding. I don’t need to bother. I know what I know. I am confident that for the most part, the men (and some women) who choose to belittle whatever Amanda and I are doing at the time, aren’t going to ever be convinced of why or how we do it. We run into that kind of judgment all the time, whether it’s someone criticizing why we go to shows, why we blog, or why we’ve written manuscripts. We can’t win those individual battles on our own, but together, we can win the war.

It just doesn’t have to be this way.  I’m interested in reading your thoughts and ideas!

-R

You’re Welcome to Celebrity

I am a political person.  I hold teacher certificates in History and Political Science and has volunteered for many campaigns from local races all the way up to President.  Yet, I try to avoid political discussions here or on our Daily Duranie social media.  Fandom is supposed to be focused more on fun.  Plus, I recognize that not everyone agrees with me and I would never want to alienate anyone because of that.  (Heck, my partner-in-crime doesn’t always agree with me.)

The latest big new story about Donald Trump’s statements about sexually assaulting and objectifying women really has me thinking, especially since part of his statement in 2005 surrounded fame and celebrity-ness.  According to the article from the Guardian, which you can read here, “…a tape emerged of the Republican candidate bragging about using his fame to try and “fuck” women and groping them without waiting for their consent.  ‘When you’re a star they let you do it,’ Trump says in the recording, which was obtained by the Washington Post and released on Friday. ‘You can do anything.’  Does fame really give people or men, specifically, a free pass to commit sexual assault?  Then, I wonder what would happen if I ever found out anything close to this about Duran Duran.  Could/would I still support them?

Unfortunately, Donald Trump is probably not the first, nor will he be the last celebrity to make statements like this.  I think there are some celebrities out there who do believe that their fame gives them the opportunity to do whatever they want to whomever they want.  I’m not naive as I’m sure that for some people, fame is a turn on and they would gladly jump into bed with whatever celebrity they can find.  Of course, that is not what is going on in this situation.  This is about the lack of consent.  It isn’t about someone thinking a celebrity is hot simply because he is famous.  No, it is about the assumption that Trump felt (feels???) like fame means that he does not need to wait for consent.  He didn’t need to wait to get permission before acting in a sexual way towards someone.

In my world, consent does not change depending on who is the person giving or getting the consent.  Every person, every woman, has the right to say no.  Every person must get consent before acting sexually.  According to the Department of Justice, the definition of sexual assault is, “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”  Based on this definition, sexual assault is sexual assault.  Trump’s statements on tape indicate sexual assault.  His fame is irrelevant other than the fact that fame could create more of a difference in power.  Therefore, in my eyes, fame does not excuse sexual assault.  It just makes it worse.

The next question is more challenging.  Would I be able to support Duran Duran if one of the band members was accused of something similar?  I’ll be honest.  I didn’t like Donald Trump before this.  (Actually, that might be an understatement.)  Therefore, this news did not change my thoughts or feelings about him.  My negative thoughts about him were just reinforced with this revelation.  Obviously, Duran is the opposite.  I have been a passionate fan of theirs for decades.  Finding out something even remotely similar to this would crush me.  Luckily, I can’t imagine anything so horrible to be true of my favorite band.

Yet, I have to acknowledge that they aren’t always or haven’t always been pro-woman.  The video for Electric Barbarella is pretty dang sexist, in my opinion.  The woman is designed to just clean and be a sex toy for the band without actually having or using a voice of her own.  Does that kind of sexism equal what Trump said and did to women?  I don’t think it does for a really big reason.  A video is fiction.  It isn’t real.  It is made up.  All of the people are acting.  I still don’t like it (understatement) but it isn’t the same as sexual assault.

Donald Trump wasn’t playing a character in that tape from 2005.  He was being himself.  I have never heard one story about a member of Duran Duran treating, thinking, or talking about women in such a way in their personal lives, in their real lives.  Instead, I hear them speaking highly of their wives, their daughters, their mothers as well as the women who work with them and women in the public eye.

What would happen if I did find out something horrible about a band member?  As I stated earlier, it would crush me.  I could not continue to be a fan or support someone who advocates assaulting women.  It is a line in the sand for me.  They could disagree with me about how best to approach countless political issues, but they could not be hateful of women like the Republican nominee for President.

As I continue to process this story and what it means for this year’s election and politics in general, I’m thankful that I am a fan and a supporter of a band, made up of men, who may not be perfect in their treatment of women over their careers but who, personally, have demonstrated nothing but respect for women in their lives and women in general.

-A

More than Wallpaper: Posters and Female Fandom

Happy Wednesday! Yesterday I had a conversation with someone about posters. I still have some posters up in my room – actually my small walk-in closet. I made the comment that I don’t really know why I still have them.  When I was a kid, the posters served as a sort of visual of my fantasies, I guess.  Yes, I loved the music.  In fact, their music is what bowled me over first. I didn’t see what the band looked like until several months later when I first saw the video for Hungry Like the Wolf.  That said, I also really fell hard for Roger Taylor along with the rest of them. <wide, toothy, innocent grin here> Naturally, I had posters of the entire band.  My room was my sanctuary.

As a pre-teen, I saw the band as perfect. They really WERE Paper Gods to me. I believed they could do no wrong. In many ways, they were the perfect first love because they couldn’t hurt me. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet them, and so the image or fantasy I had in my head of how each of them behaved couldn’t be destroyed until I was ready to let that go on my own.

Somewhere between 1983 and say…the present(!)….I finally gave up on the idea that I was going to marry Roger Taylor. <another big toothy grin here> Might have been when he married Giovanna…. or maybe it was when he left the band in 1985…or when I got married in 1995…but at some point, I gave up on that particular fantasy.  I wasn’t sad about it, and it didn’t hurt, it just faded naturally.  That doesn’t mean he wasn’t still my favorite, I just gave up on the schoolgirl-crush portion of it, I think.

Giving up on the idea that each of the band members were probably not like the characterizations I had dreamed up in my head for each of them came at some point later.  Some of our readers have shared stories with me about how so-and-so was rude when they met,  and how it completely devastated them. I never had that (thankfully).  I think that with age and maturity, along with a fair amount of life experience, I just realized that the personalities I had made up for them in my head were just that – completely made up.

I began accepting them as real people. Not just posters on my wall. Not just rock stars, and certainly not perfect. That happened a lot later for me than I want to admit, but the reality is that when I was kid – I didn’t go to concerts or things like that. When I was older and finally did go, it wasn’t with friends. I went with boyfriends, or a bit later in life, my husband.  It wasn’t until I started traveling and going to concerts with Duranie friends that I screamed with abandon at concerts, or waved and smiled at them as they came out of a side door after a show, running to their vans to be whisked away back to their hotels.

They weren’t REAL then. I mean yeah, I could see that yes, they were real people – but even then they felt so far removed from me that I felt like nothing I did was of any real consequence. Running down a hotel hallway in Vegas, laughing and calling out a certain band member’s last name because it was the “password” for the weekend was just fun even if it was completely ridiculous and immature.

I can’t put my finger on the exact moment that changed.  It might have been when I started recognizing that they interacted with other people I knew.  I know my feelings about them changed slightly when that started happening. I also know I hoped for similar experiences someday. Or maybe it was when my heart fell flat when I heard the Red Carpet Massacre album for the first time.  I began to realize that these were people who were going to make choices and do things that I didn’t agree with, and either I was going to accept their decisions and continue to be a fan regardless, or I was going to walk away and forget them.

So yesterday, I had commented that I still had posters of them. Not nearly as many as I once did, and they are confined to my closet – which I realize sounds strange but it’s only because I don’t have any other space that is my own in this house. No desk, office, or anything like that.  I had said that originally, I had my own teen fantasies about the band, but now – I have the posters up in my closet, and if I’m being honest about not still fantasizing about them in the same way (which I am) – why do I bother to still have them up?

The person I was tweeting with mentioned that for her, it is very much like having a favorite sports team. Just as someone might have White Sox or Manchester or Aston Villa memorabilia up in their house, or up on a wall or even in their office or cubicle at work – she has the same of the band. I thought about that for a minute, because she is right.

I’m not a sports person at all. I don’t have favorite teams, or anything like that. The one thing I have is this love for Duran Duran, though, and I support them.  (OBVIOUSLY, am I right?!?) I have t-shirts, their music and videos, and posters.  I don’t have those things because I’m still secretly hoping for my chance at a one-nighter with any one of them, or because I still play them out in my head as perfect people.  I am a fan because I support them.

Female fandom can be a very slippery slope. Men don’t “trust” that fandom. They automatically assume that it is because of some sort of sexual attraction or fantasy, particularly if the band or artist we choose to support is male. Even worse, we females are programmed by society to automatically apologize or feel shame for the fandom we feel.  Why do I really need to justify having posters up in my room…even to myself?  I don’t, and this is something I’m going to work on.

I don’t know about anyone else, but at the age of 45, I’m getting awfully tired of having to justify why I’m a fan of anything.

Here’s my closet!:

Rhonda's closet posters 2

Rhonda's closet posters

-R

Hard-Core Fans: Give it all that we got left

Something has been catching my attention since Paper Gods was released but I kept putting those words, and the feelings that went with them, on the back burner for later.

One thing I’ve noticed in my “adulthood”, particularly when it comes to Duran Duran and their press—specifically during interviews—is that they have talking points. I’m sure most everyone reading knows what I mean: they’re these discussion points that they want to get across.

One of those talking points I’ve heard quite frequently since Paper Gods was released is specifically about their audience at shows.  At first, I noticed John mention that they’re starting to see guys in their audience, but I didn’t think much of it. Then I started hearing some of the other members mention it as well, along with the vast age range that comes to see them.  Now, I hear both of those things in every single interview they do.  Clearly, this is something they want to drive home.

Let me share the interview posted yesterday. It was done with a San Antonio, Texas news station. If you listen, you’ll hear John working the audience into one of his comments.  Gotta give the band credit, they are pros at interviewing after having done it for nearly 40 years.  They’re old hat at this by now, but of course, they should be, shouldn’t they? Here’s the link:

http://news4sanantonio.com/sa-living/duran-duran-joins-us-for-a-live-interview

Duran Duran made a point of tweeting this interview out yesterday, which is why I watched it. Truth be told, in the past several weeks,  Amanda and I have caught precious little of the news.  It’s been hit or miss for us catching the media (mostly miss), and so had they not tweeted this, I probably wouldn’t have ever seen the interview.  Once I watched though, I tweeted back to Duran Duran. I’m not one to censor my feelings,  but I’ve gotten pretty good at thinly veiled sarcasm.  My tweet to them was no exception:

“They really do put a lot of value on their broadened audience of younger people and males in these interviews. Wow.”

To my surprise, @DuranDuran liked my tweet, because of course, that’s the point they’re trying to drive like a nail into wood.  The thing is, I know I’m not the only hard-core fan out there to notice the  value they place on this newly found younger and far more male audience of theirs. Rest assured, I’m not finding fault that they want a broad audience.  That’s the name of the game.

To Duran Duran, that audience of males and of younger people, is an untapped market.  Let’s start with the men though.  They obviously want men to feel like they can come see Duran Duran and that they won’t be alone.  That’s pretty obvious in their interviews by the way they keep commenting on how many men they see coming to see them. Funny thing, my husband came with me to see Duran Duran at the Belasco last month, and he took note that he was one of very few males in line for most of the day.  When we got in the theater, while he noticed there were plenty of men (with wives in most cases, a point that I think is pretty key going forward here) standing behind him, there were relatively none in front of him in the first and second rows.

Then there’s younger people. This point is a little stickier for me.  First of all, I WAS one of those young people once.  So were many of you reading this post.  I can remember sticking up for this band to my classmates. While they were all over U2, Prince and The Police, or all over The Cure, Depeche Mode and The Smiths, there I was, telling them how they were completely missing the point with Duran Duran. I can remember taking real heat about Nick’s makeup or their frilly shirts, or how they were “way too pretty” to be taken seriously.  As I grew up, those arguments morphed into, “Aren’t you too old to still have their posters up?” and “Duran Duran? Are they even still together?”  Or even better, “You go to so many shows. Are you a groupie?” or,  “You couldn’t possibly know anything about music. You’re a GIRL.  You’re just hoping you’ve got a chance with one of them after the show.”  Ouch.

Through it all, I stuck by them.  I still stick by them.  To this very day, I put up with an enormous amount of backlash from people who don’t even KNOW me because they think that the only reason I go to see Duran Duran is because I’m hoping that one of them will somehow notice me from the stage and invite me backstage and beyond for the night.  That judgment comes from others outside the fandom, and sadly, men within the fandom.  This post isn’t about blatant sexism though—that’s another blog for another day.  My point is simply that many of those “old soccer moms” in the audience, you know, the ones who have been married to Herman the accountant for twenty years, have stuck by the band since nearly day one, and that deserves some recognition, respect, and/or value.

That doesn’t mean a grand gesture. Nobody, least of all me, is saying the band should get down on their hands and knees and thank the fans for supporting them for all these years.  That’s not the point, so anyone who is planning to send me a love note can just stop.  But, it wouldn’t kill the band to follow-up those beautiful talking points about their broadening fan base with a simple sentence about how they really value their hard-core fan base and that it’s great to see that audience continuing to grow beyond these fans who have stuck by them all these years. That’s called “providing balance”, because right now—that original fan base is not really ever mentioned.    All it takes is a little bit, a well-placed comment or two here and there to keep people happy and believing that we’re still of some value.  As much as I’ve been holed up in my writing cave for the past couple of months, I’ve been out and about enough to know that the natives are growing unhappy.

I’m sure people will happily point out to me that the band isn’t trying to cast us aside, and that this is part of the business.  100% correct. Growing your audience is part of the business. This though, is something different.  This is about seeking balance so that one doesn’t lose the audience they already have.  The idea is to build upon the foundation, not demolish the entire community and start over.  While many might say that they don’t notice or that they don’t care, I gotta say—I see it, read it and hear it enough online, in person and otherwise to know it’s an issue.

Newsflash: some people are actually afraid to post their feelings online for fear that they’re publicly flogged for saying something negative.  They just hope WE do it for them.  Because you know, Amanda and I rather enjoy being ripped to shreds.  It’s been a while….

Remember Sing Blue Silver?  I remember the days when the audiences were made up nearly entirely of girls like me.  Yes, we were loud. We were enthusiastic, and we loved the band. Somehow, that spark stuck with US for the span of the band’s career thus far, and here we all are together.  Sometimes, I forget that one of those young girls watching Sing Blue Silver at home, nearly in tears because I felt the same thing these girls felt, was me.

(quick, before it’s removed! check out 15:40 or so and just remember what we were like once.)

http://http://my.mail.ru/inbox/boiko.valentin/video/2640/4404.html

-R

I Toast to my Home Truth

I spend a lot of time thinking about and paying attention to any and all things about and related to “fans” and “fandom”.  I know.  Shocking.  You would have never guessed.  I mean…it isn’t like I have spent a lot of time studying fandom or talking about fandom, right?  Ha.  This intense watching and observing, sometimes, leads me to see or hear something that captures something fundamental about being a fan, about being part of a fan community,  and about the nature of fandom.  This week, I happened to see two separate little posts going around on Facebook that did just that.  These posts made me smile each and every time I saw them.

The first one I saw was this one:

stigma

 

 

Now, obviously, this picture wasn’t about being a fan of a band or about being a Duranie, but the idea still fits.  They could have easily added a band to the list.  We have talked, at times, here about how fandom is, generally, not super accepted or embraced by society unless it is about sports fandom.  To me, this picture captures that sentiment well.  If want to read what we have said about that issue, I refer you to this post here.   My point isn’t to start a debate.  It is more about how music fans, all fans should feel proud to be fans, no matter what they are fans of!

The second picture fits this idea well.

geek

I am a fan.  I am a Duran Duran fan.  I am a Duranie.  I don’t care who knows it.  Frankly, most people who know me know this.  Some people may think I’m silly for liking a band so much.  Some people may think of me as immature for writing this blog, or wearing Duran Duran t-shirts or having Duran posters up in my house.  I don’t care.  I have been a fan for 30 years.  3 decades.  I have lived through ups and downs of being a Duranie and of being a fan.  If after all that, I haven’t walked away, I doubt that I ever will.  It is just a part, a big part of who I am.    This reminds me a speech I heard Wil Wheaton give, which I included below.  It is well worth the viewing.

Today, I feel like embracing myself as a fan and embracing fandom.  In other words, I’m toasting to  “my home truth”.  Here’s to fans everywhere, no matter what they are fans of.  Cheers!

-A

 

Lipstick cherry all over the lens as she’s falling

I need to thank the London Evening Standard for publishing an interview with the band. Just as I was about to scrape the bottom of idea barrel in search of a decent blog topic – there comes an interview. Coincidence? Maybe….or else those ceremonial offerings to the Duranie Gods are beginning to actually work!

If you haven’t caught the interview yet, please allow me to direct you here to read it.  I’m not going to comment on everything, but I do want to touch on a subject that has been mentioned more than a few times as of late. The interview, at least in part, seemed to center around the band’s younger years (due to Denis O’Regan’s Careless Memories pop-up gallery and photography book) and how they would find girls hiding in their wardrobes, hotel rooms, etc.  In the interview, Simon admits Duran Duran were “sexist”. “But not misogynist. We like girls in bikinis but the women always win in our videos. We wouldn’t have made the Robin Thicke video. It’s just a bit too …” He gropes for the word, his hand a claw of agony, “… you know.”

Oh, I do know. Sometimes, I swear the band knows what I’m thinking, and if I were really deluding myself, I’d swear they were reading my discussions on Twitter.

Just a few weeks back, similar comments from Simon were also in the press. I couldn’t help but agree with him and said as much openly on Twitter. I’d commented many weeks prior that at least in theory – that Robin Thicke’s video was probably a mistake. Maybe I’m just getting old and less tolerant overall, but his video is just a little bit (a lot really) over the line for me. I think there is just a certain tone to his video – the fact that the man wins (using Simon’s words!) and that the woman really seems to not be in control, that registers pretty highly on my “this is complete sexist and cruel BS” meter. It makes me very uncomfortable to watch, in a very similar way to how I’ve felt about Chris Brown. I realize that for Robin Thicke, that video is likely just an act, but that’s not the point. Why do women really need to be used like that?? What year is this again?? I’d said as much on Twitter, and gotten into quite a discussion with a few others on the subject. We never came to full agreement, but I enjoyed the subject – just not the frustration of having to explain my thoughts in 140 characters or less. Damn Twitter.

I’m getting ahead of myself here, because I’m forgetting to mention that when those comments of Simon’s became public, the response and outcry was rather swift. “What about Girls on Film, Simon?? Did we forget all about that Duran Duran video then?”  

Yes, what about that video?

This was exactly the point of discussion when I took to Twitter at a later date about Simon’s comments. Yes, Girls on Film (to begin with) does seem to be a bit of a problem when looking back on Duran’s career as one reflects on Simon’s feelings about Robin Thicke’s video. The women in the video are put in various situations including a lovely little pillow fight while on a cream-slathered candy striped pole (oh, the subtle innuendo), a cowgirl riding and then giving a horse a bath…a sumo-wrestler being massaged after losing a fight…and my personal favorite, the lifeguard “saving” a young woman drowning in a kiddy pool.  And that’s just the R rated version. If you want to really see something, the “Night” version has even more going on backstage…but I’ll leave that to you to find if you haven’t already seen it. In the interview linked above, Simon mentions that in their videos – the women “win”. To be fair, I suppose it is possible to see that the women do end up in control of whatever situation they seem to be put in here. After all, it IS the lifeguard who ends up being left in the pool, and who is riding the horse but the woman?? Again…I cringe at the innuendo, but yes, the woman do seem to be on top. (Go ahead, cringe at my play on words!)

However, not all fans see it that way, and to be equally fair – I think they too have a point.  Why make a video like Girls on Film at all? Was the music not enough to stand on it’s own? Probably not, I’d say. I love the band and adore their music..but back in the 80s?? Getting attention meant taking the risk to shock the public. If you’ve ever seen the full length video, you know that at the end of it the entire band holds up a banner that says “Some people will do anything to sell records.” That alone speaks volumes to me as a viewer, and by the way…it worked! Continually throughout the bands career, the “sex” label has been stamped on their heads or branded across their bodies. When you consider the sheer amount of videos, albums, artwork, etc. that they have had in their career that contain images of women…it’s pretty impossible to say that the band is not sexist, which to his credit, Simon openly admits.

However, and I think this is a huge point most fans (among many others) that have criticized Simon’s comments miss, or at the very least misdefine: Misogyny is a pretty strong word.The definition of a misogynist, according to dictionary.com, is a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats women.” To me, it’s tantamount to calling someone a homophobe or a racist. It runs in that same vein of hatred, and I have to ask: does the band really hate women?  Think about that for a minute.

Even if you think the Girls on Film video completely objectifies women – which it very well might – the women do seem to end up with the upper hand. If we look at other female images that the band has given us over the years, it would seem that the women almost always look stronger than the band. How about Rio? That woman in Rio makes each band member look ridiculous! She yanks Simon off the boat, Nick can’t even bring himself to pour champagne properly, poor Roger ends in some sort of a fish net, and then there’s John – who daydreams about being a soldier, only to be stopped dead in his tracks by yes, a woman. Such weaklings. This band does not hate women. They are not misogynists, even though by Simon’s own admission they have been sexist, a point to which I would wholeheartedly agree.

We can have the discussion about whether or not we’re all sick of seeing models in the band’s videos. We should acknowledge the band has been branded with the word “Sex”, and whether or not we think that’s propelled their fame. We should talk about the band’s sexism. We can even discuss the music and that should really be the point they stand on, historically speaking. What we we must stop doing, is applying the term “misogynist” to describe the band. It is not fair, and it is not a accurate. Oddly enough…if one really felt that way, especially as a woman, how could one be a fan?

-R