Her.meneutics ran a piece today on the absence of women from the contemporary Christian music scene in the US – none in the top 10 Christian songs and artists and only 2 in the top 50. I’d be interested in getting an Australia perspective on this. I don’t really listen to Christian radio stations, so if you do, what’s your observation – are the Christian singers mainly male? My hunch is that in Australia we’re slightly more egalitarian than in the US – Brooke Fraser jumps to mind as an example of a prominent Christian female artist.
In the States, this move is apparently this is shaped by what 30-40 year old mums want to hear and apparently they’re uncomfortable with women on stage: “there is a fear of sensuality and sexuality within the church.” This premise assumes that women are anti-women on stage rather than pro-hot men on stage and that may need consideration. However, it stands to reason that what happens in popular music will dialogue with Christian music. And even if Australia has more prominent women in Christian music than the US does, our popular music is influenced in large part by the American scene. We have to come to terms with the overt and often immoral sexuality of women in popular music.
The Her.meneutics writer Laura Leonard suggests that we’ve been trained to think that promiscuity is what female music is about, hence the rejection of female worship leaders and singers. If this is the case, it’s a tragedy – our picture of femininity ought to be shaped by the Bible, not Lady Gaga! A Christian response to Lady Gaga is not to withdraw women from performing but to offer a distinct alternative.
The question is, what is that alternative? I’ve written before about how I don’t it’s to conceive of yourself simply as ‘Christian’ – we’re either male or female Christians. But how do you express female sexuality (i.e. being feminine) without sexualising femininity? I suspect that this is what Paul is getting at in 1 Peter 3:3-4, though what that looks like in practice is a tricky issue. One option in the past has been monasticism – to harness feminine sexuality in the service of Jesus, apart from the rest of society. I wonder how much our ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’ worship music taps into this: the focus on Jesus makes the feminine ‘safe’ somehow.
What do you reckon? How do you feel about female worship leaders and singers? Which artists do you observe being feminine without sexualising their image?
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.