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The Case of a “Material Girl”: to What Extent May the Role of...

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The Case of a “Material Girl”: to What Extent May the Role of Women in Popular Music Be Considered as Stereotypical?

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  • May 22, 2013
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The case of a “material girl”: to what extent may the role of women in popular music be considered as stereotypical? The “Material Girl” is a stereotype which originated with the likes of Marilyn Monroe in the 50’s and 60’s of the “...conniving blond bombshell..” (Walters; 1995; p45). The idea that women are sexual objects, worshipped and enjoyed for their image and sexuality, and are only in the public eye to entertain men, has almost always been at the forefront of the image portrayed by women in popular music. This runs along with the often-held opinion that if you are an attractive female musician, you are unintelligent: discussing Shakira, Jones (2012) states that “If you are blonde, pretty and a pop star, especially if you are a pop star who also knows how to belly dance, the chances are you’re stupid.” Women have historically been viewed as the inferior sex and many female artists and songwriters are not doing a great deal to help counter this opinion. One example of this is Taylor Swift, one of the most successful young country singers. Her self penned songs are “...known to reflect her thoughts and feelings at a point in time. Yet, the underlying message (from the gender studies perspectives) in her songs (and music videos) generally point men superior to women; women as the inferior gender.” (Myidisorgange; 2011) Even in classical music, this inferior stereotype is present. In her book Feminine Endings, McClary outlines the Masculine and Feminine Cadence: “A cadence or ending is called “masculine” if the final chord of a phrase or section occurs on a strong beat and “feminine” is it is postponed to fall on a weak beat.” (McClary; 1991; p9) If women are writing song lyrics which support the inferior stereotype, and classical music definitions are also supporting the inferior stereotype, there is perhaps little hope for change. This essay will discuss to what extent women in popular music have conformed to the stereotypes outlined above. It will consider :...