How does popular music construct gender?



In this week's videos, Simon McKerrell talks about the issue of gender and how popular music constructs ideas of gender identity through lyrics, images and musical sounds:













The videos below show a series of examples from contemporary music videos of how gender roles are defined, contested, and how they have changed over time:













Discussion task:

We've set up a collaborative YouTube playlist which can be accessed here.

Have a think about a song you think provide examples of the kinds of gendered discourse discussed by Simon in the videos above. You might want to consider the following kinds of question

What do they say about what it means to be male or female? What values do they seem to express? Are they expressed openly or more subtly hinted at?

How do they convey these messages: what elements of the song - the lyric, the images (if it's a music video), or the sound are being used?

How might these images of gender relate to historical period or place?

When you've chosen a video and added it to the playlist, please post a couple of sentences below on why you've chosen it, referring to some of the questions above.

Some musics are more often associated with gender controversies than others (for example hip-hop or country music). When selecting a video, perhaps take the opportunity to find an example from a music you are less familiar with.

Additional material

Dr. Sherrie Tucker (University of Kansas) will be giving a talk entitled “A Conundrum is a Woman-in-Jazz: Reflections on 100 Years of Ongoing Improvisations on the Categorical Exclusions of Being Included."

This can be streamed live on Friday October 9th 2.00 am GMT here.

Essential Reading
Biddle, Ian. (2009) ‘Introduction(s)’ to Masculinity and Western Music Practice, Ian Biddle & Kirsten Gibson (eds.), Farnham: Ashgate.

(A blog post on this is available on the module wordpress site).

O'Shea, Helen. (2008) “‘Good Man, Mary!’: Women Musicians and the Fraternity of Irish Traditional Music,” Journal of Gender Studies 17, no. 1, pp. 55–70.

Additional Reading
Ceribasic, Naila. “Defining women and men in the context of war: Images in Croatian Popular Music in the 1990s” in Music and Gender, eds. Pirkko Moisala & Beverley Diamond, (2000), Chicago: University of Illinois Press, pp.219-38.
Dibben, Nicola. (1999) ‘Representations of Femininity in Popular Music’ Popular Music, 18(3), pp.331-355.
Monson, Ingrid. ‘Music and the Anthropology of Gender and Cultural Identity’ in Women and Music: a Journal of Gender and Culture, (1997), pp.24–32.


Here's the lecture notes from the lecture:



Here's a recap recording of the lecture on popular music and gender: