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Charlotte Church: 'Women who say they are not feminist annoy me.'

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Feminism has been increasingly under the media spotlight over the last few months, with everything from the No More Page 3 campaign to Miley Cyrus’s questionable decisions catching the public’s attention. The number of feminist groups established at universities nationwide has increased considerably over the past year, with Durham, Westminster, Liverpool, Gloucestershire, Central Lancashire and Kings College London all forming societies dedicated to the equality cause.

In light of recent public feeling Charlotte Church, who throughout her career has learnt a thing or two about the inherent sexism that is at work in this country, is hitting out at those who still choose not to support feminism.

In her impassioned John Peel Lecture at the National Radio Festival on Monday, in which she addressed the issue of women and their representation in music and the media, she berated the “demeaning,” “hyper-sexualised” images of women produced by these industries.

Speaking exclusively after the lecture to Olivia Le Poidevin, the singer explained the importance of feminism.  

“Women who say they are not a feminist annoy me,” says Church. “I don’t really understand why every woman wouldn’t consider themselves as a feminist. Because it’s not a radical thing, you know, this isn’t ‘revolution.’ It’s just to say, yes I’m a woman, I’m entirely aware that I can do everything that a man can do. And I’m proud of that, and I’m proud to be able to tell you about other women who are amazing and do phenomenal things.”

The Welsh singer also voiced her belief that female maturity has become synonymous with an increasingly sexualized image.

According to Church, late-teen stars turned ‘sex-bots’, such as Miley Cyrus, dangerously influence young women through their appearances in glamorised celebrity magazines, which are often aimed at a young audience.

“I have a massive problem personally with these celebrity and lifestyle magazines, which are aimed towards women, which do nothing but demean women, and focus only on the superficial aesthetics of women’s lives,” she says. “And though they may dive a little bit into world issues, it is like ‘here is something about Iran, whilst you can look at pretty shoes to buy’. I just don’t think that is helping the problem at all.”

But it is not only the sexualisation of women that concerns Church. A recent International Women’s Media Foundation IWMF report stated that women are notably disadvantaged from moving from junior to professional roles in the UK media industry. This is likely to mean that female students seeking to enter the media business are likely be hindered by their gender. We asked Church for her thoughts.

She said: “We were sold a lie a decade ago when everybody said there is no need for feminism: “all is fine, stop ranting and raving you crazy women.” But of course that’s not the case. And I actually think we’re going back, we’re reverting to ridiculous old-fashioned sort of stereotypes of where women should be and what their role should be: “you should just type and don’t make any decisions, just type what the men say.”

But with feminism being popularly equated with its more radical wing rather than straight-up equality in the minds of those who aren’t actively following the movement, and university feminist societies remaining comparatively small in size, is there credible future within reach for student-led and professional feminist campaigns? Church seems to think so.

“I actually think feminism is getting a much better name in recent times. I think it’s because of social media mostly. You have No More Page 3 and Everyday Sexism, where you can go on Twitter and hashtag everyday sexism and your experience of it. I think social media has really helped the feminist cause.”

What does she want to see change over the next five years in the money-spinning media industry? And how can students, and student media, play a part?

“I would like to see it more fairly balanced really. I would like there to be no undertones of sexism in the media, which I think there is a lot of. I’d like for carnal images, which feed into our everyday lives, be it through page three, or what you may see in a supermarket in the lads’ mags. For example, Tesco say that they have a policy where they don’t have any over 18 magazines. Yet they stock Nuts, Zoo and Loaded.”

As someone who has been on the receiving end of media sexism since she was a teenager, it’s fair to say that Charlotte Church knows what she’s talking about. Only the next few years will tell whether those in charge choose to listen.  




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