Representation of Independent Women in Postmodern Music
Postmodern music and dance encompasses popular music, rap and hip-hop where depictions of gender in these genres are controversial. Masculinity has always been prominent in postmodern music and dance. Attempts are also taken to broaden and deepen our knowledge of women’s roles and representations as women are increasingly engaged in music making (Bartlow & Hobson, 2008). “However, there is a troubling yet promising relationship between women and the contemporary music scene” (Bartlow & Hobson, 2008, p.12).
Themes of male sexuality, fertility, and dominance are associated to masculinity especially in postmodern music and dance. Males often obtain an affirmation of their masculinity through Hip-hop dance (LaBoskey, 2001/2002). In this male-dominated art, battle of libido and ego in dance battles allow males to demonstrate their masculinity. While females have always been discouraged from joining this male dominated art, in recent years, women are present in popular music videos containing hip-hop dance. However, they are present simply for the male dancers to perform sexual actions on them (LaBoskey, 2001/2002). Women’s gain in foothold in hip-hop dance simply enforces male dancer’s masculinity.
Similarly, according to Sommers- Flanagan (1993) and Conrad (2009), popular music often placed emphasis on “materialism and misogyny”; female characters were “often placed in positions of objectification” (Moody, 2011). Male dominance and sexual prowess were frequently boasted in relationships (Moody, 2011) as masculinity of males in popular culture is regarded as having authority over their sex lives and women (LaBoskey, 2001/2002). Women were often placed in positions where men exerted dominance of them sexually as it was regarded as a masculine act for men.
In gangsta rap music, misogyny has always been ubiquitous and women are portrayed as mere objects, objects only good for sex and abuse by men (Adams & Fuller, 2006). Today, in this genre of music, positive representation of women is somewhat presented (Moody, 2011) but there are still evident portrayals of masculinity at the expense of women. Even as women are portrayed to be independent, Moody (2011) claims that having such capable women subordinated by men would elevate his importance thus masculinity. She continued to describe how lyrics play down the independence that women achieved. Though almost perfect - educated, beautiful, and domestic, the ‘Independent Woman’ is still just a woman; emphasizing men to be above even these females in social hierarchy (Moody, 2011). It is clear that masculinity in men is often expressed by degrading, controlling or objectifying females, as it is pointed out by The Darker Side of Black that “women are a source of pseudo-power as they provide a locus for control and domination for men” (Cited in LaBoskey 2001/2002). Evidently, the portrayal of masculinity is still palpable, through men’s dominance over independent women.
Due to traditional beliefs and societal pressure, men have always ruled the music industry. Though there are increasing representations of independent women in postmodern music and dance, men still successfully suppress women’s independence by exhibiting macho-ism and masculinity.
Women Gaining Independence
Traditionally, men dominated the music industry and have long been inclined to hinder the rise of their female counterparts in this industry. This has resulted in female artists’ attempts to debilitate traditional boundaries of misogyny. Today, women are becoming increasingly prominent in the music scene, due to their increasing ability to represent themselves, enabling them to portray their independence to the audience. Veteran female artists have increased representations of women in music and have been encouraged by the presence of a new age of music artists who protest women’s subjugation with lyrics that insist...
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