Monday, 9 September 2013

Overheard at Leonard Cohen...

On Saturday I had the privilege of seeing Leonard Cohen play at Leeds Arena. Of all the things I expected, sexist quotes were not among them.

Not from dear Leonard of course, he is a perfect gentleman, a gorgeous old crooner whose voice still has the power to touch your soul and melt your insides. No, this quote came from a particularly loud audience member, who sat behind me and whom I had the pleasure of listening to for half the show whilst she voiced her opinion and generally chit chatted her way through the concert. HELLO LADY IT'S LEONARD FREAKING COHEN, RESPECT!!
I have nothing against enjoying yourself, but lets keep it a level where everyone else can too, huh?

Anyway, I digress.. What really riled me about said lady, was when she commented on Cohen's female singers. They, like the rest of the (all male) band, were dressed in suits. White shirts and black suits.

"The girls could have made an effort to look a bit sexier couldn't they?"

If a 79 year old man had not been on stage at the time, sinking to his knees and singing his heart out, I would have turned around and waded in..

These are women that were doing THIS:
and THIS:

Thats a GOD DAMN HARP she's playing there! Nope, apparently not good enough, if you're of the female persuasion it's not acceptable to just come out, belt out a lung-buster or apply mind-blowing dexterity whilst singing to a crowd of thousands, you have to LOOK SEXY whilst you're doing it.

What was worse about this attitude was that the 'girls' actually did look pretty smokin'. There was no need for them to sex things up.

I know this was the opinion of one person out of an 13,000 strong audience but it's also not a far cry from the media slurs of 'frumpy' or 'boring' when women in the public eye turn up to events looking anything less than a million dollars.With the current debate about the treatment of women in music (Robin Thicke, I'm looking at you) this comment really resonated.

There appears a fine line for female performers, don't be too sexy (Miley...) or people will think you're a naive, easy slut. But don't be drab and dull, don't be fooled into thinking you can rely on your talents to earn respect.

The judgement of appearances is not limited to women of course. I've seen men's outfits and bodies crop up in the 'what were you thinking' section of trash magazines and the daily mail sidebar on occasion. But I think this assessment is a far more gentle in mens cases. Most men in the public eye aren't criticised for daring to appear without make-up, dressing in their slacks and smoking a fag. They aren't subjected to weekly judgement in magazines and internet forums, where their outfit choices are reduced to a cross or a tick followed by a scathing put down. The received wisdom is, you cant go wrong in a suit, unless you're a woman.

This tumblr, FUCK YEAH WOMEN IN SUITS and knowing Annie Lennox is still out there being awesome makes me feel a whole load better about women being viewed and judged as sex symbols before their various talents...

But it saddened me to hear it from a woman. At a Leonard Cohen Concert. I just expected more.

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