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MSC 215, Week 5 9/26-9/30

by: Jessica Tsai

MSC 215, Week 5 9/26-9/30 MUSC215-0106

Marketplace > University of Maryland > Music > MUSC215-0106 > MSC 215 Week 5 9 26 9 30
Jessica Tsai

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About this Document

Feminism in World Popular Music, gender play, androgyny, misogyny.
World Popular Musics and Identity
Dr. Laura Schnitker
Class Notes
Music, analysis, misogyny, Gender, Feminism
25 ?




Popular in World Popular Musics and Identity

Popular in Music

This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jessica Tsai on Sunday October 2, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to MUSC215-0106 at University of Maryland taught by Dr. Laura Schnitker in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 16 views. For similar materials see World Popular Musics and Identity in Music at University of Maryland.


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Date Created: 10/02/16
9/26 Negotiating Femininity in American Popular Music Topics: ● Gender ideologies in Western Culture ● Gender in American popular music, pre­1960s ● Feminism (1st and 2nd waves) ● Janis Joplin Gender ­ multi­dimensional category of personhood encompassing patterns of social and  cultural differences ● What it means to be male, and female Sexual orientation is an identity, not a lifestyle. “Gender ideologies are most often codified as religious, moral or legal systems that justify  relations between the genders.” ­­ Koskoff Women Men beauty reason nurture technology spirituality intelligence emotion control Patriarchy ­ a form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the  family, and descent is reckoned in the male line; a society, community, or country based on this  social organization ● Control on reproduction, placing control on female body, which affects how  females make music From the moment we are born, we begin to internalize what makes a girl and what makes a  boy, to identify masculine and feminine qualities. Adult women: ● Beautiful ● Emotional ● Sexualized ● Vulnerable ● Maternal ● Submissive ● Intuitive (reproductive) ● Thin ● White (racist) ● Young ● Object of male gaze ­ in popular culture, women are most often presented for  white, heterosexual male consumption ○ In most mainstream films, women’s bodies are portrayed in  particular ways for men to see them as sexual objects ○ Encourages men to think they are entitled to the female body and  sexual pleasure ○ Male gaze leads to problems in behavior from telling her to smile,  to sexual violence and making women own up to the man unable to control his  sexual desires ○ Especially in cosmetics, there is always something that can make  your appearance better ○ Women in ads are positioned in physical and vulnerable ways ○ Sometimes in entertainment industry, the only way females can  work is by undergoing extensive plastic surgery Misogyny ­ hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women Sexism ­ discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex Violence against women is the largest and most widespread violation of human rights in the  world. Many women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime. 3 million girls face genital mutilation; restricts women from seeking sexual pleasure, and the  mutilation can cause infections and death. Masculine ideal: ● Aggressive ● Rational ­ not being emotional ● Competitive ● Strong ● Intelligent ● Dominant ● Heterosexual ● Tall ● White ● Young (but there seems to be more tolerance for aging men than aging women)  Male suicides outnumber female suicides 8 to 10, thanks to social perfectionism. Music context? “Music can establish clear boundaries of identity and provide a site for the  transformation of identity.” The 9 Muses: ● It was already a feminine concept, but as time passes, it became a more  masculine domain ● post­Renaissance, women were unable to play music in “indecent” manners (ex:  spreading legs to play cello) ● “Feminine” instruments: flute, piano, harp, singing ○ Don’t compromise the posture ● “Masculine” instruments: electric guitar, rocks, sax, trumpet ○ Require a lot more “strength” Popular Music, pre­1960s ● Women were not shown playing instruments, and only shot their faces ● Males were full­body guitar­playing “masculine” images ● Construction of black femininity is different from white femininity Feminism ­ a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and  defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women First­Wave Feminism ● Seneca Falls Convention, 1848 ­­ women’s suffrage, property rights, marriage  rights, professions, education ● 19th amendment, 1920 Second­wave Feminism ● Dealing with discrimination, reproductive rights, violence, workplace equality ○ It was legal to fire a woman for being pregnant ○ It was legal to not hire a woman for being a woman ● 1960s birth control pill approved for contraceptive use, 1957 was for reproductive disorders ○ Gave women more choices when to have a baby ○ But only married women could legally obtain it, until 1982 for  unmarried women as well ● Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (1963), college­educated, but was  appalled to learn she had to get married and pregnant to be socially accepted Popular Music After 1960s ● Reflects social changes ● Spans generations ● Niche­oriented  ● Slightly more inclusive Janis Joplin, 1943­1970 ● Emulated African­American blues singers ● Left college to go to SF in 1960s, moved into the Haight­Ashbury scene ○ Artists who saw expression to change America for the better ○ Her performing crossed so many gender and race boundaries Summary ● Gender ideologies dictate roles and images in society ● Musical performance in Western culture is highly gendered ● More restricted for women (and men) before 1960s ● Feminism and other social changes began to loosen those restrictions 9/28 Agency ­ “the capacity of individuals to act independently and make their own free choices”  (Barker) Joan Jett 1970s, post­Janis Joplin, post­sexual revolution ● Lead guitar for the Runaways, 1970 ○ Most successful in Japan ○ Punk group ○ All female ● Lead Joan Jett and the Blackhearts ○ No one would contract because it would be a female fronting a  rock band, a hyper­masculine genre ○ Cover of “I Love Rock and Roll” was a huge success, still on today ● Own record label, Blackheart Records ○ First woman to own and operate a label in the US Androgyny ­ having both female and male characteristics; being neither distinguishably  masculine nor feminine, as in dress, appearance, or behavior ● Popular Music 1970s­1980s ○ Post ­sexual revolution ○ “Outsider” music ­ artists who represented marginalized ideas or  identities found mainstream success: R&B, reggae, hip hop, etc. ○ People who have embraced an androgynous career ■ Annie Lennox (“Sweet Dreams”) first androgynous  female ■ Grace Jones ■ David Bowie ■ Boy George ■ Prince ■ KD Lang ● 1990s­2000s ○ Marilyn Manson (covered “Sweet Dreams” by Annie Lennox) ■ Forefront of industrial metal gothic music ■ “Marilyn” = Marilyn Monroe and “Manson” = Charlie Manson ○ Adam Lambert 3rd Wave Feminism ● Sparked by “Third Wave Feminism” (1922) by Rebecca Walker, daughter of Alice Walker (The Color Purple) ● Challenged white, middle­class perspective of first and second wave: “We should look at global issues and diverse perspectives (races, single mothers, etc.)” ● Equal pay, family leave, sexism & misogyny in American society ● The Beauty Myth (1991) Naomi Wolf “Western women have been controlled by  ideals and stereotypes as much as by material constraints” ● The Purity Myth (2009) Jessica Valenti, the over­value of women “more than just  the sum of our sexual parts” (virgins, mothers, girlfriends) and as a person ● Madonna ○ MTV and dance, 1980s ○ First female artist to have complete control over her image ○ Sex­positive and empowered individual, never apologetic for being sexualized on stage ■ Wants to portray a woman who is sexually active  and is not ashamed Gender and Performance, present ● Miley Cyrus was called a slut during her performance with Robin Thicke ○ Robin was married with 2 kids, but didn’t get any lash ● Lorde wants to be serious, but record labels want her to smile ○ M&M has NEVER smiled ● Beyonce’s Superbowl performance showed her muscles because singing and  dancing at such a large venue requires strength.  She was misogynistically memed. ○ Male rock stars usually show their muscles straining when singing, never been shamed Gender Play ­ dressing as the opposite sex and pretending to be another gender ● Lady Gaga ○ Stefani Germanotta in NY 1986 ○ Came up around the time Youtube started coming up ○ First millennial superstar ○ Performs exaggerated, often grotesque depictions of female  sexuality ○ Gender play “Jo Calderone,” her male alter­ego ● Janelle Monáe ○ Born Janelle Robinson from Kansas City ○ Went to Atlanta, heart of R&B ○ Co­founded Wondaland Arts Society ○ Defines her own gendered image ○ Genderplay? No, as herself. Androgyny? No, voice and  appearance defined. Rejection of male gaze? Yes.  Tweet Qpr2015 Androgyny and Gender Play: ● Allows artists to move more fluidly between prescribed gender roles ● Makes available a greater range of artistic expressions and styles ● Gives artists more agency in defining their own images ● Destabilizes gender norms and expectations Postgenderism ­ erosion of binary gender will be liberatory, biological fluidity and psychological androgyny, both feminine and masculine aspects of personality are combined. 9/30 Discussion 0106 Gender in Music: ● Pitch range ● Drums, guitar are usually masculine instruments ● Women typically add vocal embellishments Alabama Shakes ● Comfortable, simple clothing ● Rejecting the male gaze Big Freedia ● Overly sexual positions ● Lyrics and music reflect the song and the style ● Masculine clothing, female aesthetic ● Identifies as man, but uses female pronouns


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