Representation Of Women In Music Cultural Studies Essay

In 1969 when asked why there were n’t any other powerful adult females in the music industry, Janis Joplin said “ it ‘s non feminine, possibly, to truly acquire into music, alternatively of float around on the top like most chick vocalists do. ” Possibly that is why today, in the 10 ‘s there is a deficiency of disputing female creative persons who genuinely break down boundaries. The modern-day music industry offers really few independent, strong female function theoretical accounts who do more than merely sell sex to do people purchase records.

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This probe will concentrate on the representation of adult females in music, specifically in hood and belowground music, from their discovery in the 70 ‘s to their deficiency of representation today in the 10 ‘s. The primary instance surveies will be assorted female hood sets from the 70 ‘s to the 90 ‘s such as Xray Spex and Siouxsie and The Banshees, with Beth Ditto as my modern-day focal point. I will analyze music picture and vocal wordss, every bit good as their physical representations. I will analyze theoreticians such as Germaine Greer, Naomi Wolf and Laura Mulvey to measure how their work can be applied.

As second-wave feminism took clasp in the 60s, music turned into a political pronunciamento for women’s rightists, as female singer-songwriters began to run for adult females ‘s rights. Their music frequently dismantled myths held about adult females, and enabled adult females to incarnate their ain self-made individuality as opposed to that which society and civilization allocated for them. Janis Joplin was mostly unconcerned with the feminist motion, but proceeded to stand for a feminist symbol for adult females in a male dominated rock civilization, act uponing coevalss of female instrumentalists to come.

Womans were of important importance to the bum civilization of the late seventiess ; get downing in New York with performing artists like Patti Smith and Debbie Harry, hood stone spread around the universe and adult females in bum music became more seeable. As hood music gave them an mercantile establishment for their edgy, political, anti-establishment wordss, and non-conformist, unconventional female character, it became perfect for feminist instrumentalists to hold their voices heard.

Womans in hood music had to be strong to stand against their male coevalss. By the late 70 ‘s, hood ‘s extremum in London, female-dominated sets like Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Slits and X-Ray Spex were playing on the same measures as all-male sets like The Clash and the Sex Pistols. These sets gained public acknowledgment non merely because of their radical music, but besides by disputing outlooks of muliebrity.

Widely considered “ the most influential adult female in hood stone of all time to walk the Earth ” Siouxsie Sioux said in 1974 “ I do n’t transport anything for any females, and I hate being called the best female vocalist ’cause I think I ‘m better than any male vocalist every bit good. ” These sets did n’t desire to be classed as a separate class from male instrumentalists ; they merely want to be classed as instrumentalists. Siouxsie Sioux said “ it was a powerful clip for adult females. Girls were eventually picking up instruments and non merely being a marionette held up by a adult male with strings in the background. ”

Laura Mulvey is a feminist media critic who is best known for her seminal essay entitled “ Ocular Pleasure and narrative film “ ( Sight & A ; Sound 1975 ) . In it she sites the media as o tool for male subjugation and that adult females are seen simply as objects for male satisfaction. The camera, she argues, sees from the Male regard ” . Mulvey ‘s theory besides states that the media “ satisfies and reinforces the masculine self-importance and represses the desire of adult females ” .

The Siouxsie and The Banshees picture ‘Happy House ‘ , goes against Laura Mulvey ‘s theory that images of adult females are displayed as sexual objects. In the first shooting of this picture Siouxsie looks ferociously into the camera, her oculus make up is dark and she has bright ruddy lips ; her signature expression. She looks androgynous as she is have oning an outsize fool outfit with short spiky black hair. No tegument is seeable except for her face and custodies. The camera follows Siouxsie around, demoing she is commanding the picture, beliing this quotation mark from Laura Mulvey: “ in their traditional exhibitionist function adult females are at the same time looked at and displayed ” . As the camera follows her, it is non in a voyeuristic manner, she is merely the chief focal point of the picture, and the camera angle remains flat with her face throughout the picture, demoing she is dominant and confident. Despite being the lone female seen, she appears more confident than the male members of the set, dominating them by commanding the picture. Siouxsie is besides shown playing instruments, exposing her as equal to the male instrumentalists. This opposes Mulvey ‘s thought that work forces ever dominate. Besides, she continuously looks sharply at the camera, conveying she feels superior to the audience. Nothing in this picture suggests Siouxsie is being portrayed as a sex symbol, in fact rather the antonym.

Many of these adult females did non look to care about being sexually tempting, this contrasts with Germaine Greer ‘s theory of there being a dominant image of muliebrity which regulations our civilization and to which all adult females aspire. It besides disagrees with Naomi Wolf ‘s statement that adult females in Western Culture are damaged by the force per unit area to conform to an idealised construct of female beauty. On The Slits first album screen they are envisioned topless, covered in clay, looking dishevelled, non looking to hold made any attempt at all to look ‘good ‘ . Despite being topless, this screen is non shot through the ‘male regard ‘ as the adult females appear dominant and in control as opposed to passive. The adult females of these sets took their full personalities onstage, frequently affecting have oning vesture that reflected their ideas and attitudes.

Siouxsie Sioux often performed have oning black leather and gum elastic bondage garb, every bit good as heavy oculus makeup, doing open statements about her gender. When asked about her visual aspect, Siouxsie said “ image represents in a manner, a sort of rejection of a stereotype, a blonde, dense prettiness that was sought after by most vocalists, particularly female ” , conveying that she dresses for her ain pleasance and non others. Ari Up of The Slits, constructed an image that played on conventions of female gender by ever featuring long dreadlocks, ne’er utilizing make-up and frequently have oning underwear over her apparels.

In New York, Patti Smith and Debbie Harry of Blondie expressed two really different takes on hood muliebrity ; Smith was a cross-dressing, androgynous adult female, comfy with film overing her gender, and Harry was a bleached-blonde former man-about-town bunny, still playing on the stereotyped conventions of female vocalists.

Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex was a geeky adolescent, corpulence, and with big metal braces, known for have oning bright scratchy clashing colorss onstage. Xray Spex dealt with assorted issues on their album ‘Germfree Adolescents ‘ such as the environment and life in a consumer society where you have to populate up to the outlooks driven by advertisement and consumerism. Even lead vocalist Poly Styrene ‘s name reflected the sham and ‘plasticness ‘ of the society they were populating in. The vocal ‘Plastic Bag ‘ reinforces her position as she sings “ my head is like a plastic bag that corresponds to all those ads it sucks up all the rubbish ” . ‘Art-I-Ficial ‘ contains the lyric “ I know I ‘m unreal but do n’t set the incrimination on me, I was reared with contraptions in a consumer society. When I put on my make-up the pretty small mask non me that ‘s the manner a miss should be ” , this conveys Polly ‘s feminist positions and her resistance of society ‘s outlooks of adult females.

This subject can besides been seen in Xray Spex ‘s most widely known vocal “ Oh Bondage Up Yours ” where Polly begins by stating quietly in a childly voice “ Some people think small misss should be seen and non heard, but I think… ” before detonating with a shriek of “ Oh bondage, up yours ” , turning the ‘girly ‘ voice into something more unsavory. This vocal is about the antipathy at being invariably scrutinized by mainstream society.

After a deficiency of female hood sets in the 80 ‘s, Riot grrrl exploded in the early 90 ‘s. It originated from the hood motion, initiated by unconformist female sets who aimed to stamp out sexism and inequality in response and developed into an belowground women’s rightist motion in the early 1990s. It is frequently associated with third-wave feminism and it is sometimes seen as its get downing point as a response to the recoil against enterprises and motions created by second-wave feminism. The subculture gave adult females a topographic point to be out of the system. Riot grrrl was about 90 ‘s adult females doing a base, whining against authorization and researching what they wanted a adult female to stand for.

Today ‘s music charts seem merely to reflect generated pop-rock, particularly where females are concerned. The lone mainstream female set with political positions and strong female function theoretical accounts, who want more than to merely be sex symbols presently are Gossip. Competing with creative persons marketed through the ‘male regard ‘ , it ‘s no admiration Gossip ‘s Beth Ditto is deemed controversial in today ‘s music scene. Whether it ‘s because she ‘s openly cheery, a non-shaving hood, or morbidly corpulent, mainstream society sees her as an foreigner.

30 old ages ago, it would ‘ve been typical in the belowground music scene to see persons like this. Beth Ditto is said to be a fan of Riot Grrrl and provinces Xray Spex as her biggest influence. Gossip ‘s wordss are frequently about society and feminist issues, disguised with a mainstream catchy electro-beat. Even Gossip ‘s most widely recognised vocal, ‘Standing in the Way of Control ‘ is highly political as it is assailing George W. Bush in response to same-sex matrimony being prohibited in some provinces of the USA, the opposition can be seen in the lyric “ we ‘re standing in the manner of control, we will populate our lives. ”

Her involuntariness to conform to society ‘s outlooks is clearly seeable on the NME issue on which she appears unshaved and naked on the forepart screen. The image shows Beth with her manus on her underside which has a kiss grade on it and another manus covering her chest. She is looking at the camera, non in the conventional, seductive manner female vocalists are normally photographed, but alternatively about snaping as if she does n’t care what anyone thinks of her. The headline reads “ Kiss my buttocks ” , one time once more reenforcing her reluctance to conform. This image shocked the adolescent audience of the magazine and sparked contention as it is an image that mainstream society is seldom subjected to. It was besides nominated to be crowned the best magazine screen of all clip. This image does n’t stand for the usual political orientation of adult females and this is why Germaine Greer has praised Ditto on looking like this on the screen of a mainstream magazine, and besides NME for leting her to make so. Greer speaks extremely of Beth stating: “ her purpose is to coerce credence of her organic structure type, 5ft tall and 15 rock, and by this scheme to dispute the conventional imagination of adult females. ” Laura Mulvey ‘s theory of feminism can be seen here ; Beth Ditto is the dominant female who refuses to be inactive to the male spectator.

Gossip ‘s picture ‘Listen Up ‘ , follows two cross-dressers, one male and one female and depicts what it means to be masculine and feminine. This is an alternate subject for a music picture and so one time once more Ditto challenges mainstream society. However, in this picture, Ditto herself is non shown in her usual rebellious manner, but alternatively appears to be typical of a music picture, demoing that everyone needs to conform to sell records.

My research has established that despite old ages of feminism and societal motion, adult females are still objectified as sex symbols in the music industry.

For my linked production I will be bring forthing a music picture in the manner of 1970 ‘s female hood sets to the vocal ‘Oh Bondage, Up Yours ‘ by X-ray Spex. The mark audience for the picture will be predominately female adolescents who feel their positions and values are n’t represented in mainstream music. The picture will non sexualize adult females and it will reject the ‘male regard ‘ .

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