‘If we don’t cut our chest open and bleed about the men and children in our lives we are cheating our audience. Eat your Bechdel test heart out’
Björk has posted an open letter calling out sexist media and the treatment of women artists and their performances.
The Icelandic musician wrote the note following her DJ set at Day for Night Festival in Houston, Texas.
“I am aware of that it is less of a year since I started djing publicly so this is something people are still getting used to and my fans have been incredibly welcoming to me sharing my musical journey and letting me be me,” she wrote.
Björk pointed to particular reviews of her performance, which said she was “not performing” and “‘hiding’ behind desks” – critique her male counterparts at the festival – including Arca and Aphex Twin – did not endure.
The artist also used her open letter to discuss how music journalism sidelines music by women that isn’t linked to relationships or men. “Women in music are allowed to be singer songwriters singing about their boyfriends,” she wrote. “If they change the subject matter to atoms, galaxies, activism, nerdy math beat editing or anything else than being performers singing about their loved ones, they get criticized; journalists feel there is just something missing ... as if our only lingo is emo...”
“Men are allowed to go from subject to subject, do sci-fi, period pieces, be slapstick and humorous, be music nerds getting lost in sculpting soundscapes, but not women,” she added. “If we don't cut our chest open and bleed about the men and children in our lives, we are cheating our audience, eat your Bechdel test heart out.”
She compared the media reception to her 2007 LP Volta, 2011’s Biophilia and her most recent work, Vulnicura. Björk said she was “conscious of the fact that these were not subjects females usually write about”, when it came to Volta and Biophilia, and that Vulnicura was more widely acclaimed because it explored “heartbreak”.
Björk closes the letter, saying that with her next output she hopes to “get to have a costume change and walk out of this role” – that role being the “classic female subject matter” of love and heartbreak. She concluded: “Let’s make 2017 the year where we fully make the transformation!!! The right to variety for all the girls out there!!!”
The Dazed favourite has always been vocal about sexism in the music industry. Back in 2008, she was forced to write a blog post confirming that she was writing and producing her own music. In an interview with Pitchfork in 2015, she said: “Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times.”
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