Tone Deaf recently reported on an illuminating article that came courtesy of freelance journo Louise Bruton. Wirting for HeadStuff, Bruton compiled a series of short blurbs describing several famous male musicians in the style typically reserved for their female counterparts.

In addition to being hilarious, the blurbs were also thought-provoking. While the description of Sting as a “toned 63-year-old” who should just “give it up” elicited many a chuckle, it was important to understand why it has such an effect.

You have to really look to see it, but there are often subtle undercurrents of sexism when journos write about female musicians. When describing male musicians, journos tend to omit details like marital status and hook-up history or unnecessarily vivid dissections of their looks.

Case in point, Noisey writer Dan Ozzi has ruffled some feathers with a recent article he wrote on Natalie Imbruglia. The Australian singer is currently promoting her new covers album, Male, and the interview was part of Noisey‘s long-running First Dates series.

The concept is to send a journalist on a date with a musician and document the discussion, normally taking the format of a Q&A. Past guests have included Andrew WK, Mac DeMarco, Sky Ferreira, Antwon, and Seasick Steve.

The articles are normally satirical in tone and usually consist of questions about anything except the artist’s music. But this time, the format of the First Dates series has raised eyebrows over at Jezebel sister site The Muse.

“When you work within the confines of an industry well-known for the strong current of sexism and objectification running through it, it seems like you should be able to recognize the very fucked up undertones of this cute, slightly gimmicky concept,” writes Ellie Shechet.

“Namely, that a female musician was essentially trapped into getting hit on under the guise of album promotion, which the article did not even do.” Shechet then cites several passages in which Ozzi meticulously describes the minute details of Imbruglia’s appearance.

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“If you are unwilling to promote a female artist’s music, yet choose to do an interview anyway entirely and admittedly on the basis of your physical attraction for said artist, then you are contributing, in some small but vital way, to an outdated culture in which female musicians feel sexualized, patronized, and diminished by the overwhelmingly male gaze of their critics,” Shechet continues.

Readers can check out the article, titled I Went on a Date with Everyone’s Crush, Natalie Imbruglia, for themselves and make up their own minds, but Shechet’s criticism does raise some interesting points about sexism in the music industry.

Just for context, a similar article by Noisey, I Went On A Date With My High School Crush: Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara, took the form of a rather lengthy and detailed chat that actually discussed the artist’s life and history.

While the First Dates series is obviously intended as a satire of the way many articles about musicians eschew music entirely and instead focus on the artist’s sex lives, would a response to this not be better achieved with an actual discussion of the music?

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