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Discussions and analyses of music – whether on TV, in books or in the music press – have always been full of the stories of men. When female fans appear in these stories it is often through the eyes and from the perspectives of men – as muses, groupies or fangirls – meaning that women’s own experiences, ideas and arguments about the music they love are marginalised or glossed over. Women in music are frequently fetishised and objectified both in song lyrics and in real life, viewed purely in relation to men and through their impact on the male ego. But this hasn’t stopped generations of women from loving, being moved by and critically appreciating music – however that music may feel about them.
Under My Thumb: The Songs That Hate Women And The Women Who Love Them is a study of misogyny in music through the eyes of women. It brings together stories from music writers and fans about artists or songs they love despite their questionable or troubling gender politics, as well as looking at how these issues intersect with race, class and sexuality.
The collection explores the joys of loving music and the tensions, contradictions and complexities it can involve. It is intended to be as much celebration as critique – a kind of feminist guilty pleasures.
Rhian E. Jones is former editor of New Left Project and author of Clampdown: Pop-Cultural Wars on Class and Gender and Petticoat Heroes. She writes for various publications including The Guardian, Los Angeles Review of Books and Morning Star.
Eli Davies is a writer, researcher and former editor of New Left Project. She has written on music, politics, popular culture and literature for The Guardian, Noisey, The Quietus and New Statesman.