At least, that's the message of these album covers. Alternatively: Sex sells everything.

For some naive reason, I didn't expect classic music, of all genres, to be infected with the same lust for objectifying each and every attractive woman that enters the arena. However, as NPR shows, classical musicians are subject to the same double-standard as the rest of humanity. Amy Schriefer quotes a composer and flutist in order to get the point across:

Classical music marketing photos still show women predominantly in sexy outfits with lots of skin, and men in serious, somber clothing. Why do women feel they need to look so standardly magazine-model-like in order to get concerts?

Though women may feel frustrated by the continued emphasis on sexy and the many advantages physical attractiveness (and the willing to show it off) brings, commenters seem mostly unconcerned. Yes, even at NPR, the commenters see nothing wrong with objectification. Writes one:

The music is a hundred years old or more, played and recorded by countless others. Yet, it endures just like and old story that one never tires of hearing. At least I don't. So what if they put on a new dust jacket. Is that so bad? Easy on the eyes, lovely on the ears.


Another views it through a Girl Power! lens:

Artists have to distinguish themselves to both their fans and the non-listening public, and I'm glad these women can do it though self-expression. Go get 'em ladies!


"Self-expression" is one way to look at it. Yet while encouraging this type of double-standard may help the individual artist sell albums, it does nothing for all the other female performers who don't want to be sexified. Or who don't fit into the conventional model of female attractiveness. In an ideal world, talent would sell - not sex (this is also slightly reminiscent of the movement towards skinny, hot opera singers). Of course, Vanessa-Mae and the others are free to do as they like, but it would be nice to see a time when posing in a skimpy outfit didn't garner so much attention. I don't really know why I thought the listeners of NPR would be any more aware of the problems of sexism than the average douchebro, or believed that classical music would be more about magic flute and about the disco-stick, but I did. And boy, did they prove me wrong.


Selling Sex And Symphonies: The Image Of Women In Classical Music [The Record]