Garbage’s Shirley Manson Reveals How Rock Heavyweights Made Her ‘A Submissive Dog’


Garbage singer Shirley Manson was asked in a new Yahoo interview if she has ever been discriminated against, or in general treated poorly, because of her gender in the music industry.

“I feel like it happens to women every day, in really subtle ways. As Anna said so rightly, often you can be slow yourself to detect it, to have a clarity about what has happened. You’re not always aware of that when all the male record execs are commenting on your hairstyle. It’s only a few years later that I’m thinking, ‘What the f***? What’s my hair got to do with you? You wouldn’t be talking about a male artist in this way!’ I was an object. I was too young, and too naïve, and too vain to really detect it at the time, but now looking back, I’m like, “That was just ridiculous.” More than that, I think in business I have just been completely ignored a lot of the time by male lawyers, and managers, and business managers. Everything’s directed towards my male counterparts. They would talk to me maybe about what shoes I wanted to wear. It continues to this day.

She later said, “I’m very aware that during the very first part of my career, I played submissive dog all the time. I wouldn’t come into a work situation and say, ‘This hi-hat doesn’t sound good to me.’ I would fudge the margins and deliberately dumb myself down, use simple language and try not to be threatening. I would never take ownership over any directive. I knew that if I didn’t act like a submissive dog, I wouldn’t get what I wanted. Men don’t have to do that; women continue to have to do that often. You’ll see it in a lot of female execs. They’re very fun, and energetic. I feel that that’s methodology to get what they want, but men can be as grumpy and unpleasant as they wish and nobody has a word to say about it. If a woman acts that way, she’s a c***, literally. She’s a “bossy c***.”

  • Kay B

    I go to the same hair dresser Shirley does when she is in Madison. She chopped off her hair the first time (Androgyny video) and I thought it really fit her. It was such a great cut. But People were giving her a hard time that she lost her sex appeal when it came to men. I think she gained more with women though. Then she fought back with the assholes calling her ugly by really chopping it and going blonde (Cherry Lips video). She never lacks sex appeal and she is a woman who just doesn’t give a shit. That’s why I like her.

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    • Trovoid

      Oh shit I just realized that Shirley Manson is basically one of your hometown heroes, isn’t she? It appears that the band has origins in Madison, Wisconsin?

      • Kay B

        Shirley is from Scotland but the rest of the band is from Madison.WI. Butch Vig is from Viroqua which is West of Madison. He does percussion for Garbage but also helped produce Nirvana’s Nevermind and also produced for Smashing Pumpkins and Sonic Youth. It’s always nice to see them play in Madison. Shirley seems to really dig the city too.

        • Trovoid

          Butch Vig is an amazing producer. I knew he put the band together but I’ve never really listened to Garbage all that much. I’ll have to check out some of their records.

  • Trovoid

    I get what she’s saying but I think it happens to men in the industry too. Chris Cornell was always hounded to take shirtless photos and more attention was paid to his hair and body than the music oftentimes. Obviously women deal with this sort of thing A LOT.

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  • Olga Stewart

    I know this doesn’t relate to the topic of the article.

    But I do believe Shirley is a goddess. :).