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The Reclaiming Of Masculinity: A Regression Of The Female Voice In Mainstream Rock Music

2513 words - 11 pages

Listen for an hour to a Clear Channel franchised rock station. In that time, a variety of musical styles in modern rock are interspersed with older tunes of decades past; a second hour of listening yields similar results, as does the hour following and so on the pattern continues. After listening only an hour, however, a very broad trend presents itself, a trend seen as well on recent billboard charts that document the popularity of mainstream and modern rock singles and modern rock albums: a scarce representation of the female voice. Mary Ann Clawson notes in her study "When Women Play the Bass," from the publication Gender and Society, that "the prominence of such [female] groups [as Hole, ...view middle of the document...

New Historicism's relevance in my study is as a lens to observe a societal trend and how this trend could possibly be influenced by the state of the society in which this trend occurs.In my research, I will reference recent Billboard "Hot Modern Rock Tracks," "Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks," and "Top Rock Albums" charts to record the influences of female musicians, and I will document the genders of musicians played in a select amount of time during afternoon hours on a Clear Channel Communications-owned rock station, WTKX FM 101.5, better known as TK 101. I also intend to make use of numerous scholarly articles which focus analyzing the obscurity of female bands- notably those of the Riot Grrrl movement of the early 1990s, a brash and in-your-face feminist development in music with bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Hole, and Babes in Toyland- and the success of "angry girl" musicians of modern times; performers who are female and employ violent and sexual themes in their songs, but send few pro-feminist messages through their music, such as Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, Meredith Brooks, and Tracy Bonham. Notably, I will cite articles by critics such as Mary Ann Clawson, Kristen Schilt, and Kate McCarthy.Feminist writer Kate McCarthy's claim in her twenty-six-page essay, "Not Pretty Girls?: Sexuality, Spirituality, and Gender Construction in Women's Rock Music" is that women's rock music is feminism's "third wave" (i.e., the next style of feminism), and as such has moved from the second-wave feminism's obscure existence as a text-based study to a mainstream phenomenon (74-75). Though many female rock musicians do exist, packaged and primed for purchase, very few of these musicians actually make their way on air. Through this observation and with the aid of a few select contemporary feminist essays and recent Billboard statistics, I aim to demonstrate that, contrary to McCarthy's claim, pop culture is experiencing a regression of feminism in rock music, rather than a surge.Before advancing too quickly into this study, it would first be prudent to present a loose definition of the term "rock music." Wikipedia.org defines it as "a form of popular music from the mid 20th century which typically features a vocal melody (often with vocal harmony) that is supported by accompaniment of electric guitars, a bass guitar, and drums, often with a strong back beat" (Wikipedia). The definition suits the basics of rock in modern times, though it has become increasingly more complex as the genre has added more sub-genres, subsequently stretching the barriers of what is or is not rock music. In this study, I will use the Wikipedia definition as a structural model, that is, music with those elements (electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and backbeat) as the central instrumentals will be considered rock. Furthermore, for this study, music following the aforementioned structure and appearing on rock radio stations ultimately will define the tracks and artists in...

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