Haim are heralded as the girl-power group of our generation, and of course, there’s a degree of truth to it. Even if they’re simply a band of women making music and living their lives, Haim have incorporated their values into their music directly, and there’s one song in particular that the group wrote in order to detail sexism within the music industry.
Appearing on their aptly titled 2020 album, Women In Music Pt. III, the song ‘Man From the Magazine’ was written specifically to discuss sexism in the industry. Specifically, the lyrics address an encounter with a male journalist who asked Este Haim whether she “makes the same faces in bed” as she does on stage when playing bass. You know, as if “bass face” isn’t literally a coined term for the fact that pretty much all bassists do this?
In response, Este Haim said: “I see men making faces on stage, and it’s a reaction from feeling the music. I made the mistake early on of looking at comments on live performances, which I don’t do anymore, and all these comments, mostly men, were like, ‘Urgh, ugly, grotesque, get her off the fucking stage, why is she making those faces?’ I think some men have a problem with seeing a woman enjoying herself. That’s threatening to them.”
Even though she was snappy in the moment by replying: “There’s only one way to find out!”, she later took more time to consider the question, adding her views: “Now, had someone said that to me, I probably would’ve punched them in the face. But as women, we’re taught kind of just to always be pleasant and be polite. And I think that was my way of being polite and nice.”
Throughout the rest of the song, Haim goes into detail about other experiences of sexism in the industry, like the assumption that a woman is just starting out playing whenever she is seen pursuing an instrument or even talking about it.
As for the song itself, the track has its folk roots and Joni Michell vibes and, to top it all off, there’s a tribute to female musicians who have paved the way. It’s short and sweet, but it’s musically complex and makes you want to listen to it over and over again.
This track has a deep meaning, but it’s clear that its lyrics aren’t the only virtue. One could say that casually flexing their musical prowess – like they do all the time anyway – is just another method by which they can stick it to the man.
If you want to hear the song Haim wrote about music industry sexism, you can find ‘Man From the Magazine’ linked below.