According to music insiders in Jamaica, female artists in dancehall reggae are at a huge disadvantage in the music industry because of the male dominance in the genre.
According to a big time producer who asked to be unnamed, female dancehall artists are sometimes made to feel like they are around a thousand Donald Trumps. “A female artist might go to a studio to lay down a track and the producer will think he has a right to touch her where he pleases,” the producer said.
The unnamed producer added that there is a secret talk among certain producers called “fuck fi buss” which they use when they are working with a female they consider attractive. For females artists they consider not so attractive, they have another secret talk known as “give a head to get ahead.”
Another producer, Cornelius Daley, also accused some male producers of holding back the careers of female artistes because they refuse to offer sexual favors.
“Some producers just want to get under the girl dem skirt, and as dem get under dem skirt, dem drop dem because dem get what them want,” Cornelius said.
“A nuh suh we do it, because talent matters to us. The biggest problem for female artistes is that engineer and producer want to have sex with them, and if they don’t get sex, dem not working with them,” he added.
The producer further stated that the music industry should be about business and nothing else.
“Mi nuh interested inna sex with any female artiste mi sign, because a business mi deal wid. I view female artistes like a family, like a sister and mi nuh mix business with pleasure. Female artistes can work just as efficient as male artistes, but it’s the people who work with them make it look like them can’t manage. Female also have to know them worth. Hold out and know sey a music yu a pree,” Cornelius said.
University lecturer Dr Donna Hope, a cultural analyst, agreed with the claims made by the producer. She said that it is not just in dancehall reggae but women globally have experienced similar issues in various professions.
“This is something that has plagued the music industry from inception. It has a lot to do with the male domination of the industry and the patriarchal structures that govern society, where women are usually on a ceiling when they are to advance and that ceiling has a lot to do with male energy,” Hope said.
“What happens with women who come into the music industry, whether dancehall or reggae, is that they either have to throw in their lot with men deliberately or they have had to depend on the support of their male family members, if they have a studio or have connections in the industry. If you are not that lucky, you may have to sleep with somebody, or, as many women have found out, your career will go down the drain,” she added.
Hope said talent is not seen as priority by some men when a woman’s physical appearance is placed in the equation.
“You have to learn as a woman how to deal with that. Many women have told me that their careers have false started because they have been unwilling to sleep with men to get ahead. Some women are willing to and other women like myself are not, and so the battlefield gets real hot, but you have to stick to your own guts. But in the industry, access to the resources may have to be dealt with through sexual channels, and it is a hard reality,” she said.