How Have Aspects of Gender Been Represented Through Music?

Topics: Gender, Music, Masculinity Pages: 5 (1773 words) Published: March 28, 2013
How have aspects of gender been represented through music?

Literature and visual art are almost always concerned with the organisation of gender and the construction of gender. Since listeners know how to explain how it creates its effects, music gives the illusion of operating independently of culture mediation. Music based on gender and how that is seen or heard is able to contribute heavily (if surreptitiously) to the shaping of individual identities: along with other influential media such as film, music teaches us how to experience our own emotions, our desires and even our own bodies. This way of understanding music is every day in the area of popular music production and reception. Both musicians and listeners know that one of the primary dangers in this music is the public construction of gender and sexuality. Weather Prince, Madonna, The Smiths or Guns ‘n’ Roses, “most pop artists strive to create images that challenge traditional definitions of masculinity and femininity, to present models of gender that range from liberatory , to polymorphously perverse, to mutually supportive, to overly misogynist and violent.”[1] The critical controversies that greet each new development demonstrate how very significant this music is – not simply as leisure entertainment, but as a site in which fundamental aspects of social formation are contested and negotiation. Such critical debates are almost entirely absent from traditional musicology. The standard explanation would be that while popular music admittedly addresses issues such as sexuality, classical music “the standard concert repertory of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries” [2]is concerned exclusively with loftier matters. Indeed, it is precisely this difference that many devotees of classical music would point to a proof that their preferences are morally superior to those of pop music fan: their music is not polluted by the libidinal – or even the social. Classical music (no less that pop) is bound up with issues of gender construction and the channelling of desire. Like its popular counterpart, classical music presents a wide range of competing images and models of sexuality, some of which seem to rein-scribe faithfully the often patriarchal and homophobic norms of the cultures in which they originated, and some of which resist or call those norms into question. If musicology took its subject matter as seriously as many pop critics take theirs, a central task would be explaining how mere pitches can be made to represent gender or to manipulate desire – as well as ascertaining just whose versions of gender or “desire thereby get reproduced and transmitted.”[3] Accordingly the variety of women and men representations in music are a lot greater than in other subjects of media, this is due to the varying music genres and presentations having specific iconographical purposes and distinguishing characteristics that must be talented in demand for a musician to fall into this category. However, gender through music is the main theme that occurs in mainstream 'pop' music and is the commercialized artist’s genre that usually gains the audience through the appearance of the individual rather than the music as the musical talents tend to be very good but nothing remarkable and very similar. These women are gender representations of what a woman wants they are meanly clad and their songs consist of love. They are represented as a feeble and complex person who needs guard from the world and in an attempt to get it they dress to impress the men and gain male consideration. i.e. the “male gaze”[4] get the person handling them is typically male and does what he feels will sell the records and thus using the female body as a tool through the acquaintance that the human essence can be manipulated due to the structured. In all these genre categories the female representations are not typical or in some cases any reflection of the universal images of women in society, the...
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