im stealing my title and aspects of my concluding statement from a tongue in cheek song by the amazing band Garbage. Shirley Manson, although missing from this blog is truly a saviour for girls in rock and roll- someone to admire and respect, she has fronted an immensly successful band and dealt with her own demons including depression related to what she admitted is a battle with body dysmorphia.
For everything we have mentioned so far in this blog, image ranks highly.
“I look at today’s charts, at the women who are selling the most records, getting the most column inches, and I’m terrified by how they are all controlled by a male corporate idea of what women and rebels should be. When Christina Aguilera is taken seriously as a rebellious figure, we have a huge problem.”
It has taken 4 weeks to flesh out everything we, as bloggers, could think to discuss about aspects of women in rock. we continue to make the same conclusions, raise the same ideas, and answer the same questions.
I believe that through this blog we have challenged such a segmented area of the music industry. Admittedly, it never hurts to write about something you are passionate about, and as four young women were contributing to this blog, passion was something we didn’t lack. The moment of the epiphany came to me when i sat at the computer and the question came to me
“are we just marginilising women more by having this blog topic?”
and although i think our research, our profiles and our suggestions are intelligent and insightful, a part of me still wonders if raising the issues of “girls in rock and roll” just reiterates stereotypes by merely suggesting we catergorise them as non-normal.
I’ve really enjoyed writing about something as interesting, challenging and provoking as this topic has been and, admittedly, the best part has been the soundtrack. Rediscovering iconic female musicians, and expanding my musical knowledge has been the greatest side effect. I believe I appreciate the strength of women in the music industry so, so much more.
I leave this blog with a keener eye for criticism and a greater love of chicks who rock out.
this is Shirley Manson and this is Cherry Lips (go baby, go!)
which i believe to be fitting for everything we have discussed.
she gave you everything she had
but she was young and dumb
she’d just turned twenty-one
she didn’t care to hang around
so when the shit came down
why she was nowhere to be found
this life can turn a good girl bad
she was the sweetest thing
that you had ever seen
you’re such a delicate boy
in the hysterical realm
of an emotional landside
in physical terms
with your cherry lips and golden curls
you could make grown men gasp
when you’d go walking past them
in your hot pants and high heels
they could not believe
that such a body was real
it seemed like rainbows would appear
whenever you come near the clouds would disappear
because you looked just like a girl
your baby blues would flash
and suddenly a spell was cast
you hold a candle in your heart
you shine the light in hidden parts
you make the whole world wanna dance
you bought yourself a second chance
go baby go go
we’re right behind you
go baby go go
yeah we’re lookin at you
“I know it’s a sexist thing to say, but women aren;t as good as making music as men- like they’re not as good as men at football. A girl in a dress with a guitar looks weird. Like a dog riding a bicycle. Very odd. Hard to get past it.”- Julie Burchill.
The aim of our blog, I believe, was to critically assess music journalism with reference to women in rock music. We divided up the time we had for this assessment into categories (character profiles, decades of rock, sexualisation & discrimination and our conclusions). I found that information regarding the sexualisation and discrimination of women in rock was easily accessible as I viewed documentaries, online journals, online videos & web pages as well as various books which ultimately shaped my blog entries. I based most of my blogs on key ideas which were derived from the articles and resources I found, although I also tried to incorporate my own personal views into each blog.
Conclusively, women, across history, have been subjected to gender discrimination. This can be a result of socialisation, as people are still yet to understand that femininity need not to be directly associated with women, and that masculinity does not necessarily need to be affiliated with a biological man. Music journalism plays a major role in the discrimination that female rock musicians receive through ignoring their success, and only focussing on their private lives, which can even deem a female musician as infamous (Courtney Love experiences this discrimination as her private life has been constantly slandered by the press; drug addiction and child welfare issues.)The book “Gender in the Music Industry” quotes that the media’s portrayal of various female rock musicians focusses on discreditting a woman in a male dominated culture; Love is described as a person “who fights an inner war with herself” and Bjork is characterised as being “mentally unstable”. Is the media trying to say that these characteristics constitute what it means to be a female rock musician?
Additionally, from the research I attained through conversations within my group and workshop debates, it is apparent that the idea of “women in rock music” is a problematic concept in itself. Already, from this statement, women are segregated from rock music through the arguments surrounding the gender binaries that reflect upon contemporary society. Why not just discuss “rock music”? Why “women in rock music” This is because rock ‘n roll is seen as a male domineering culture and that women who are rock ‘n roll artists are either unsatisfactory musicians or simply masculine. What about femininity!?
Performance also plays a key role in distinuishing female musicians as rock artists. “Punk performer Siouxsie Sioux of the well known British band Siouxsie and the Banshees offered a visual challenge to the conventions of female stage performance during the late 1970’ by adopting a a confrontational, overtly sexual stage persona-she dressed in militaristic style, thigh high boots, black satin shorts and a Tshirt with a an image of a piar of breasts. Her face make-up was heavily applied, creating a mask rather than acting as conventional enhancement. The image she presented, along with other female punk performers of the time, was intended to challenge conventional female “prettiness.”
Across time, women within the rock ‘n roll culture, have been misrepresented within the media and constantly compared to males. This is a result of the gender arguments that exist between what defines a feminine person and what defines a masculine person. Performance, attire and personality are the key attributes a woman can use in getting herself recgonised within the rock’n roll culture. This assignment honestly makes me want to pick up a guitar in an effort to prove that masculinity is not a social tool for determining a person’s succession in the world of the music and media.
I’m really glad we chose women’s contribution to rock music for a topic. Not only was it something we could all engage with, but it’s really changed the way that I look at women in rock music as well as the media representation of those women (it’s definitely brought out my inner feminist, too). What was incredible was reading other blogs and articles. It really surprised me that women are the ones who are perpetuating the poor representations of female musicians (the ‘no good girl guitarists’ blog) and also female fans (cited in Misrepresentation part 2). I never realised it was that much harder for female performers. In fact, I guess I never really thought about it until now.
‘Perhaps the most common way in which music journalists treat female performers is to ignore them completely. This attitude is particularly noticeable in retrospective writing on rock history, which often obliterates any trace of all but a few token women’ (Davies 2001:302).
Our goal was to critically assess women’s contribution to rock music and how they are represented in the media. I think we’ve done that. We’ve all brought interesting discussion of female rock musicians to the blog. And maybe we’ve even helped to change some opinions on the way?
I found the profiles on female musicians to be the most interesting part of this assignment. It was a great way to address all the things we wanted to discuss, including sexualisation and media representation. It was also a great way to explore the different types of female musicians in rock music. The profiles also enabled us to write about people we are familiar with, it was really great to combine an interest with Uni work. All the women we profiled were iconic because they entered a field that was biased against them and still managed to do great things. They are very inspirational.
As said above, I never realised how bleak the situation was for female rock musicians until researching for the blog. However, I think there is hope for the future. The Internet provides an alternative to the rock music press that has represented female artists and fans for so long: people are less reliant on them as mediators to find new music.And maybe even blogs like this one will help female rock artists to be recognised.
“Rather, such seemingly outrageous, yet also unruly and ironic play with, and on, female sexuality via various verbal and often embodied twists on words like “slut”, “bitch”, “chick” and “whore” have now become staples of third wave feminists. Ironic serious play with the norms that regulate femininity and female sexuality have now been thoroughly disseminated into the mainstream via the looks and likes of grunge, punk, pop such as Liz Phair and Courtney Love.”
Within this article, the idea of irony as a social mechanism of communication between masculinity and femininity. This is portrayed through Liz Phair and Courtney Love who use word by play to not only shock their intended audiences, but also reiterate that women can succeed in a male dominated art form. This is evident in Liz Phair’s song “Blow Job Queen” as the lyrics hold some form of ambiguouty; although the initial meaning may be quite profane, an ironic meaning can be perceived, especially when Phair quotes that she had been “dicked” around for years.
This article highlights that women are becoming empowered by their words through the rock ‘n roll culture. Robyn Diner, the composer of this text, quotes: “the ironic and unruly displays associated with these musicians do not merely wreak havoc on the norms of appropriate femininity, the good girl/bad girl binary and straight female sexuality-they also reek of risk.”
“Given the forces stacked against women becoming rock musicians it is remarkable that any do” (Bayton). From the research performed for this blog i find this statement very true. Women must endure many set backs, continuous discrimination and sexualisation, under representation and much more to live in a rock and roll world.
Our group decided to base our blog on this topic because we perceive that women of the rock and roll industry have been under represented and there has been a gap in the coverage of these amazing musicians and their art form.
From research it became evident that women in rock were greatly under represented due to the male dominance in the industry. Collecting data was difficult because most historical account of the rock and roll industry were based on men and the odd woman could be found rarely.
I think that females were under represented also because originally they were dominantly seen as fans or groupies so people have sub consciously or even consciously written women rockers off as ‘silly girls trying to be like the boys’. Women have had to fight for many years to gain the rights and respect that they have today and I don’t think the respect and recognition has translated to the rock and roll world.
Women in the music industry are also being used to create sex appeal and gain a wider audience. This again sends a message out that women are sexual objects and this leads to people not taking them seriously and thus they become under represented as they are not considered ‘real artists’.
That said, a lot has been done to try and fix this under representation with special events and magazine issues celebrating women in rock.
Women of the rock and roll world deserve more recognition for the work they have done. The under representation of this topic is unfair and i truly hope to see the day this gap is non existent.
I found an online article which shows the significant women of rock music, ranging from the 1950’s up until the modern day female rock musician. Along this timeline, I came across familiar names and bands including Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Deborah Harry and Joan Jet. As the rock culture entered into the new millenium i noticed something quite bizarre. Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson headline 2000’s most reknowned rock female musicians.
Sure, Britney may show some of the negative signs of being a “rock” artist (according to the media); drug abuse, depression, DUI etc, but is she a rock musician?
Has the rock culture become subjected to mainstream music & therefore allowing room for “pop” icons to fall into the rock characterisation?
Seeing as we’ve been talking about sexualisation and representation this week, I thought it was important to discuss the subversion of traditional gender roles used by the Riot Grrls. Riot Grrl was feminist movement that began in the early 90’s and peaked in Washington in the mid 1990’s. By creating hyper-femininity and girlishness, the women in this movement subverted traditional representations of women in rock music to make a feminist statement.Their use of irony and comic use of makeup and clothing as a way of examining traditional media roles brought them significant media attention (Wald 2002: 198-201).
Bands like Bikini Kill wrote ‘whore’ and ‘Slut’ on their bodies, drawing attention to the double standard of sexualisation in the male dominated music scene (Peraino 2001:696). While the music was supported by students and feminists, the music press gave them less attention. Riot Grrl was always referred to as ‘a ‘female version of punk’, which not only avoided coverage of the political motivations for such a movement, but also denied the Riot Grrl’s of any recognition of their originality (Davies 2001:314). This would explain by Riot Grrl bands avoided the traditional media, and photocopied fanzines gained alot of popularity.
But the message of Riot Grrl did not die out. Uber-girlishness has been used by artists like Gwen Stefani to sing what it’s like to be ‘Just a Girl’, and because of No Doubt’s record deal, Stefani’s message was taken to a much wider audience.
Jennifer Hurley’s article about “how being a music video junkie turned me in to a feminist”, tells of how Hurley was a fan of watching pop and rock music on the television when she was growing up. She tells of the abundance of imagery that exploited women’s bodies as objects and the pouting of the leather clad video vixen.
I find this very true, not only in rock music today but in the music industry in general. Women are used to beautify and sexualise video clips and live performances. The women in these videos are usually wearing little at all and acting provocatively (making it seem as if that is what all women are like in everyday life). This type of sexualisation of women is sending the wrong message to people of all ages and genders. It is also resorting back to the stereo type that women in the music industry are groupies and only have to offer sex appeal to music rather then be considered true musicians.
Note: The males are fully clothed while Gwen is wearing a revealing bikini top
Hurley. J, (1994) Popular Music, Music Video and the Construction of Gendered Subjectivity, Vol.13, No.3, Cambridge University Press
Special event, special issue….. why is the thought of women in rock considered only in the case of a special event or magazine issue, is it that hard to acknowledge that women ARE apart of the rock industry and they aren’t going anywhere, they have made their mark well and truly since the 60’s that’s over 40 years ago and they are still trying to prove themselves.
Any way why I’m writing this is because I read an artical about a “Women in Rock” festival been held at Yale university, they are holding the event to try and decrease the inequality in the rock scene of the university. “The festival should help to interrupt the monotony of Yale’s music scene, introducing new and talented women to a larger segment of the student body.”
The article also touches on the reasons for the under-representation and lack of women in rock. For boys they often form bands in high school with friends, girls rarely follow suit. Thus the university scene, “suffers from an extension of this teenage mentality.” Another reason there is an absence of women in rock at Yale is because women think it is apart of our culture to not be involved in this world. It is crazy that women sub consciously think they should not be apart of something that is dominated by males, this problem is the fault of male dominated history.
“The Yale Women in Rock Festival seeks to take a small step toward giving a musical voice to women.” I think it is great that people are trying to give women in rock a voice but its only a chance that unfortunately seems very selective.
This made me laugh quite a lot. Comparing Natalie Bassing-whatever her silly name is, with Chrissy Amphlett who has just been named Australia’s greatest Rock Chick (and rightly so).
Not only is this grossly misguided (have you heard the Rogue Traders music!?) but offensive to someone as iconic as Amplett.
The book mentioned in the article rates female performers on their “guts, sass, energy and an uncompromising attitude”. The author suggests Bassing-blah has what it takes. Oh, what is the world coming to?