Sexism In Rock N Roll

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Thesis: Sexism is still alive in the rock world. Women artist in bands really don’t get an fair chance. Women writers or women in general with a musical talent can basically have the craziest ideas that doesn’t get appreciated as much a man in a rock band.

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Men expect women to be half naked in order to get attention. Women should be able to be theirselves and wear what they please without being judged or shamed about their ideas.
It’s really no secret that popular music, rock n’ roll can be sexist and misogynistic. Rock n’roll came to life in the 50s, with Chuck Berry, Elvis and Little Richard, they all became popular in the 60s when The Rolling Stones and The Beatles took over the world. At the time sex, drugs and rock n’ roll was a mantra, an rousing war cry for a generation in transition, hypnotized by the men on stage with their guitars and glorified in music magazines like Rolling Stone. A cool rock band was formed.

Like most industries during that time, the music industry was dominated by men. Men worked most of the positions of power and controlled the flow of information. The rock ?n’ roll establishment created a culture that reflected this male domination (McLeod 2002). Before she was a pioneering woman in rock, Patti Smith commented that rock ?n’ roll is for men. Real rock ?n’ roll is a man’s job. I don’t want to see no chick’s tit banging against a bass (Smith in Janowitz 1987). For that Smith went on to achieve, in hindsight we can view this statement as somewhat tongue-in-cheek. It does, however, reflect a commonly held belief that serious pop music is the domain of men (Davies 2001). The success of Patti Smith and others, like Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner, suggest that women aren’t necessarily excluded from pop and rock music, we’re just not sure exactly where they fit in.

The study falls heavily on gender role theory and asks the question, where do women fit into popular music? Using content analysis, the research looks at a selection of Rolling Stone magazine Greatest of All-Time lists and aims to compare the way in which men and women are represented by these lists. The research is to help fill a gap in scholarly work that looks at gender roles, music and journalism at the same time. Also in order to find women’s place in rock n’ roll, we need to make a link between the music created by women, the media’s representation of this music and how this differs from men. How does Rolling Stone magazine, as media and as part of the rock ?n’ roll establishment, construct gender roles in music, and what is the female role? Much of this tends to focus on the notion that pop music journalism is dominated by men (McLeod 2002). Kembrew McLeod makes an serious connection between the masculine culture and the fact that only a few women occupy positions of power within the rock journalism establishment. For McLeod, this establishment was very much established. McLeod argues that this culture remains dominant: “Who works as a rock critic in large parts depends on one’s immersion in the social sphere that rock critics inhabit, which in many ways resembles the old boy networks that for years dominated most businesses” (2002).

Stories about women in music magazines are often included because of and or focused on, the woman’s appearance. One person only has to look at covers of Rolling Stone in order for this to be apparent. Cover stories about men are mostly concerned with career or musical contribution to the world. Those about women on the other hand are often featured a scantily clad artist, model or pop starlet on the cover, and a suggestive headline. Women are less likely than men to learn a rock instrument like guitar, bass and drums at an early age because society dictates what young boys and girls are supposed to do and there is also a lack of female musical role models for young girls to emulate.

Girls are less likely to be included in the formation of an adolescent band because these are more often than not based on friendship rather than musicianship and boys, being boys, will pick their ?buddy’ over some girls as well as the fact early adolescent social life is gendered. The study looks at a selection of Rolling Stone magazine Greatest of All-Time lists, which can be found on the Rolling Stone website. Five lists have been chosen for the sample. They are: the 100 Greatest Singers of All-Time; 100 Greatest Guitarists of All-Time; 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time; the top 100 of the 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time; and the top 100 of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time. The included lists were published in print between 2003 and 2008. Subsequent updates have appeared on the Rolling Stone website. Rolling Stone magazine lists were chosen over other similar lists, such as Billboard, thebest100lists.com and thetoptens.com, because of its longevity and standing within both the music and journalism worlds.

Since the 1970s Rolling Stone has been thought of as a credible and reliable source of music and political news (Brady 2009) .Upon undertaking the preliminary research, it became apparent that it was necessary to document the instances where a female appears more than once in the sample. Many of the men and women, who are listed in the top half of one of the lists, appear in one or more other lists. For example, the 18 men and 2 women who appear in the top 20 of the Top 100 Singers of All-Time list, all feature in the top 70 of the 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time. Johnson-Grau, in Sweet Nothings, points to the idea that women artist and musicians must be extraordinary in order to warrant recognition in the company of men (2002, p. 210). The decision to exclude vocalists is based on the view that ensemble instrument playing is both the principal site of musical authority in rock music and the activity from which women have been most fully excluded (1999, p. 99). the total female entries over the entire sample.

Looking at these numbers it’s not hard to view these women as ?extraordinary’. Not because they are rated alongside men, but because all of them have been considered, by their contemporaries and music experts, to be amongst the greatest contributors to music in more than one category. While they are few, at least in relation to men, these women who’ve left their indelible mark on popular music’s history are regarded extremely highly by the rock ?n’ roll establishment, of which Rolling Stone magazine is an important part. Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell, Patsy Cline, Bonnie Raitt, Ronnie Spector, Patti Smith and Stevie Nicks are the exception to the rule that rock critics and historians of pop music have a tendency to forget things that they dislike or that do not fit their particular version of rock ?n’ roll authenticity (Johnson-Grau 2002, p. 203). The sexualisation of women in the media is a hotly debated topic. Countless studies have looked at the way in which the media portray women, and thus help create gender roles (see Belkaoui 1976; Tuchman 1979; and Carter & Steiner 2003). Two main theories stand out. The first is that most women are portrayed in traditional gender roles, that is mother, wife, sister etc.; and the second is that most media focus on a woman’s aesthetic qualities rather than their ideas and achievements (see Tuchman 1978; Bahr 1980; Macdonald 1995; and Allen, Rush & Kaufman 1996). Both of these are substantiated by the data. Rolling Stone presents the sexy, sassy, elegant powerhouse Tina (Jackson for Rolling Stone 2004); the confident, Gospel-singing, passionate Aretha (Rolling Stone 2004 [A]); and the sweet, delicate, naked within a song Dusty (Rolling Stone 2008). All of these depictions fit into what is culturally normal for women. Furthermore, they all suggest an element of sex, or imply the artist embodies a certain image. While it’s not difficult to argue that sex and fashion are an intrinsic part of the music industry, Phil Dwyer argues that music is actually a part of the fashion industry (Dwyer 2003) .

Johnson-Grau puts forward the notion that women in the music industry are almost exclusively compared with other women (2002, p. 210). The data collected doesn’t refute this. Furthermore, the data indicates that female musicians are more likely than men to be likened to anyone else, regardless of sex. Over the modified sample of 98 articles, there were 24 comparisons between artists made. On 15 of these occasions, the artist being compared to somebody else was female. Expressions such as: created possibilities for; set the road map for the success of; set the stage for; or influenced everyone from were found to be far more common in the descriptions of women, than they were in the descriptions of men. The notion that women need to be extraordinary, courageous and inspirational in order to succeed in the music business has been thoroughly examined in this discussion.

Perhaps one more ingredient is also needed. The above data seems to suggest that the rock ?n’ roll establishment likes to be able to trace the lineage of female musicianship, by comparing each generation of women in music to the previous one. Frith believes the misogynist culture of rock music forms a symbolic barrier to women’s participation in rock ?n’ roll (1981, p. 228) . The sexualisation of women in the media is a hotly debated topic. Countless studies have looked at the way in which the media portray women, and thus help create gender roles (see Belkaoui 1976; Tuchman 1979; and Carter & Steiner 2003). Two main theories stand out. The first is that most women are portrayed in traditional gender roles, that is mother, wife, sister etc.; and the second is that most media focus on a woman’s aesthetic qualities rather than their ideas and achievements (see Tuchman 1978; Bahr 1980; Macdonald 1995; and Allen, Rush & Kaufman 1996).

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