Opinion: Debating provocative attire worn by female musicians

Posted on: June 13, 2013

The Daily Telegraph (London) has recently carried an exchange of views on the appearance and marketing of female musicians. On Tuesday (6/11) Hannah Furness reported on comments by Dame Jenni Murray, presenter of the Woman’s Hour radio program, who said that “The women who seem to be the most welcome are the ones who are prepared to go along with the old idea that sex sells.… Look at the way the violinist Nicole Benedetti and trumpeter Alison Balsom are marketed.” Murray asserted that the world of orchestras remains blighted by sexism. In a response, Dr. Brooke Magnanti, “formerly known as Belle de Jour,” wrote, “According to Dame Jenni Murray, sex sells in classical music, and the pressure on young women performers to market themselves with sexy imagery is immense…. And yet is there a problem with, say, the revelation that musician Nicola Benedetti considered whether to pose for a shoot with a lads’ mag? … She’s a pretty lady so why not show off her body if she’s proud of it?” On Wednesday (6/12) violinist Tasmin Little responded, “If music is about communication and expression, why does the appearance of a performer matter at all? The answer is that it used not to.… Nowadays, things are very different. So why has the classical music industry begun to feel the need to compensate for something, as though the product is no longer good enough or special enough in itself?”

Posted June 13, 2013