Image courtesy of Beducated.com
Image courtesy of Beducated.com

Readers Respond To Shari Ulrich's 'Soft Porn' Article

An article authored by Shari Ulrich published last week entitled Let’s Strip Away Music’s Soft-Porn Preoccupation, generated more than a few responses and many from women. What follows is the thread with the author’s overall response at the top and occasional responses peppered in between.

Shari Ulrich

In case my responses get lost in the replies... My observations are about the more insidious societal pressures on women that are so often not felt as such, but are manifested in our behaviour and how we present ourselves. I am disappointed to see such reactionary responses that seem to miss the point entirely. Are we not allowed to question what forces might lead us to make the choices we make? Or allowed to express that I'd like to see women represented in music videos as something other than sexual objects? Or is any questioning at all off limits and those who do automatically labeled as a misogynist? It appears so. That's disappointing.

John Harris

Gutsy article Shari. I think you just raised some consciousness. Well done.

Sylvia Mason

Hi my name is Sylvia and I just read your article “Let's Strip Away Music's Soft-Porn Preoccupation” and absolutely loved it.  As a ‘mature’ woman (I guess?!), I have felt these sentiments for some time.  I’ve worked in the music business most of my life and have watched and supported countless artists bring their art to the world with admiration and joy.  And as I do grow older, I watch the younger generations and think – really?  Is that important in the 21st century?  Your article is important and I do hope it will go viral so that younger women will see how they may be exploiting themselves for recognition?  On the other hand, I support their right to portray themselves how they wish…I just wonder what influenced them to think this is their best way?  As we move forward into a new age (I’m also an astrologer so that’s a whole other perspective), I hope that all women will continue to empower themselves to show us their music, their creativity and their smart minds, before they feel the need to show us their bodies.  Just wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts and hope it will inspire everyone to use their minds, their hearts and their unique talents way before they think about a ‘sexy’ image!

Jo

This article puts a bad taste in my mouth and is a step backwards for women in music. If you can't see past a woman's appearance to appreciate her talent, that says more about your own misogyny than her self-respect.

Stefanie Purificati

Thanks for speaking up, Jo. I'm still shaking mad about this article and the blatant internalized misogyny that shines through every sentence. As I wrote on my FB page "This sort of puritanical, judgmental, holier-than-thou finger-wagging is wildly anti-feminist, deeply misogynistic and epically out of touch. It continues to perpetuate the ideology that non-men folk “owe” men a certain behaviour and appearance. It also falsely claims that non-men folk who dress like this are somehow lesser-than, unfit to be role models because of their fashion and artistic choices as if this is the only value we have. Oh, and you won’t get booked for shows because regardless of your talent, you’re only as good as what you are or are not wearing. There is also a deeply unsettling racist undertone, which is even more gross." And as one of my friends so succinctly put "This is the first step toward "well, what were you wearing???".

Shari Ulrich responds

I was indeed conscious of the possibility of my perspective being too close to the dangerous myth that women invite attack by how they dress so I sincerely regret that it was taken that way. But the main point that seems to be missed in these reactions is that I am not criticizing women for how they dress - I am pleading for them to understand the societal pressures and influences that lead them to present themselves so overtly sexually given that women are so much more than that. We have a huge range of aspects to our characters and essential selves and to limit it to this one element and defend it as personal "artistic and fashion choices" misses the point. Calling my comments racist (how did you get there??) and misogynist conveys a reactionary element that in counter productive. I am holding back from relaying the depth of experience I've had as a woman in and out of music that has informed my view as this is not about me. Anyone who knows me knows I have championed women my entire career, as I have all songwriters. I was inspired to write the article to confess my confusion about my reaction to the dissonance between the artist I saw in the video of the concert, and the young woman I saw on social media.

Shelby Burnell

Shari, I highly encourage you to do some reading on “Internalized Misogyny”. Claiming otherwise simply because you have an all-female band isn’t the argument you think it is.

Put simply, the article is damaging to women and the “steps forward” you should be arguing for have nothing with how they dress and everything to do with what equal opportunities they aren't but should be afforded and where their representation is lacking in the industry.

Jo and Stefanie make some great points above that are worth paying attention to and learning from; as you put it in your article, it's time for some consciousness-raising.

Stefanie Purificati

Thanks, Shelby. We need more of these kinds of empowering conversations and fewer conversations about policing people's artistic and fashion choices. Separating one's talent from one's form of personal expression is a weird form of cognitive dissonance.

Orby

I have been a Bonnie Raitt fan for fifty years and I have never seen her legs. Her talent has been provocative enough.

Shari Ulrich responds

Exactly!

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