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Controversy over the lack of women in triple j’s best albums of 2016

Montaigne made the Top 20, but didn't feature on the Top 10 Albums of 2016
Maeve Marsden
| December 20, 2016

triple j is no stranger to controversy when it comes to gender imbalance, despite the fact their music staff is roughly half/half. Every year frustration rises at the low percentage of women in the station’s much  celebrated ‘Hottest 100,’ and every time the station launches another “best of” list, it feels like groundhog day for the triple j’s feminist listeners: few or no women are included, and we are reminded of the extra challenges facing young women pursuing a career in contemporary music.

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the latest slap in the face to Australian’s incredible contingent of female artists comes by way of triple j’s best 10 albums of 2016, as voted by the public. The list boasts an impressive line up of Australian musicians, including The Avalanches, Violent Soho, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, and Flume, but is entirely devoid of female artists, unless you count Jennifer Boyce from Brisbane band, Ball Park Music, or the various women involved as lyricists and vocalists in Flume’s album Skin. 

Views differ over who is to blame for the inequality, the station, who to their credit have a number of women in prominent roles, or the general public who vote in the popular music polls. The only culprit that most can agree on is, well, the patriarchy; living in a society that consistently breeds gender inequality.

Despite the likelihood that triple j are making genuine efforts to improve the air play and accolades given to women artists, fair criticism can be  levelled at the way the station handles critique. Often the gender issue is ignored or belittled as the fault of listeners. In the latest announcement a rather clumsy final paragraph states:

Discounting the glut of female guests on Flume’s album and Ball Park Music’s Jen Boyce, the Top 10 was lacking in ladies. Montaigne, Camp Cope and Beyoncé all placed in the #11-20 (UpdateBeyoncé actually placed just outside the Top 20) but as Kingsmill acknowledged at the end of the poll on-air, “where are the females, people?”

Another problematic statement in the triple j announcement came by way of a vague illusions to the allegations of sexism, violence and racism levelled at Sticky  Fingers frontman, Dylan Frost.  triple j’s comments, below, seem to add insult to injury, implying somewhat of a victory for the band, overcoming the controversy to achieve further musical success.

The storm of controversy surrounding Sticky Fingers going into “indefinite hiatus” didn’t stop the Sydney rockers’ third album, Westway (The Glitter & The Slums) stomping its way in at #6.

triple j Music Director, Richard Kingsmill included  Montaigne, Julia Jacklin and Beyoncé in his personal picks; unfortunately his list echos the average representation of men and women in radio and festival line ups. As reported by triple j  and the ABC back in March, 30% tends to be the level that female representation sits at.

If we want a culture that celebrates the best in Australian music, broadcasters, listeners and the mainstream media will all need to work together in 2017 to address the ongoing inequality.

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