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Charlotte Church Criticizes Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Sexualization of Female Music Stars

Charlotte Church P
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Charlotte Church

"What this industry seems to want of its women increasingly is sex objects that appear childlike," the 27-year-old U.K. singer says.

LONDON – U.K. singer Charlotte Church late Monday criticized the hypersexualization of young female music stars, lashing out at the likes of Miley Cyrus and Rihanna for their raunchy performances.

The 27-year-old Welsh musician, who was one of the British celebrities who sued Rupert Murdoch's News Corp for phone hacking, said the music industry was male-dominated and had "a juvenile perspective on gender and sexuality," according to the Guardian.

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Speaking at the Radio Academy radio festival in Salford, a suburb of Manchester, Church said: "What this industry seems to want of its women increasingly is sex objects that appear childlike. Take your clothes off, show you're an adult."

Talking about her own experience early in her career, she said: "There was a big clamor to cover my breasts as they wanted to keep me as young as possible. Then it became, 'You should definitely get them out, they look great.' "

Church also said she was pressured into dressing provocatively for music videos, which still affects her. "Whilst I can't defer all the blame away from myself, I was barely out of my teenage years, and the consequence of this portrayal of me is that now I am frequently abused on social media," she told the festival. "Now I find it difficult to promote my music where it would be best suited."

Seen as a child prodigy, she sang at the closing ceremony for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics before performing at Murdoch's wedding.

Church lauded the likes of Erykah Badu as having "strong messages" for music fans.

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But many young performers are "encouraged to present themselves as hypersexualized, unrealistic, cartoonish, as objects, reducing female sexuality to a prize you can win," Church argued. She added that performances by the likes of Rihanna, Christina Aguilera and Cyrus, including her "twerking" at the MTV Video Music Awards, only help to continue gender stereotypes in the industry.

"If women are to become free agents of their gender's destiny in a music world that is reliant upon shouting loudest over the clamor, it stands to reason that online pissing contests only serve to detract," Church said in a reference to the showdown between Cyrus and Sinead O'Connor.

Addressing Rihanna's latest video, "Pour It On," Church said: "You only have to look at the online response to see that it is only a matter of time until the public turns on an artist for pushing it too far. But the single, like all Rihanna's other provocative hits, will make her male writers, producers and record label guys a ton of money."

The Welsh singer was also asked if British radio stations should consider the portrayal of young female artists when choosing songs to play and promote.

"BBC Radio is notorious for misreading sexual metaphor and innuendo as innocent," Church said. "But more recently, there doesn't seem to be a decency barrier at all."

Concluded the singer: "The culture of demeaning women in pop music is so ingrained as to become routine."

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai