.3.2 The Record Company
Within the record industry, women disproportionately occupy positions at the lower end of the hierarchy. These jobs tend to be low-paid, of low-status and either unskilled or semi-skilled manual or office work. In the UK, very few women hold senior positions in the record industry and in the independent sphere no women run their own record company. The most important task in the record company is that of the A&R (artist and repertoire) department. The people who work here are responsible for talent scouting, deciding the songs that a band should record, and which record should be promoted. This role exercises huge control over a musician's career. Mainly men, who decide how much time and money to spend on a band, do this work. Negus (1992) describes how acts are divided into one of two categories: the major stars who deserve long term investment or the novelty act who require short term investment. Most all-women bands are afforded novelty status. The 'laddish' culture of this department can be seen in an article in the Guardian (8 March 1996) where A&R man Keith Wozencroft signed an all-male band after 'an ugly A&R scramble that involved one rival sending the band a call girl as a present'.
Women are present in just one area of the record company: the press and public relations department. This job requires 'feminine' attributes such as the ability to nurture the fragile ego of the artist. This job also involves dealing with journalists, when women are expected to utilize their sex appeal. However, women have only recently become prominent in this field as press and public relations in the 1970s had little female involvement. Women are also gaining a higher profile in other areas, such as marketing, product management promotion, video production, and market research. Although Negus points out that women have yet to secure decision-making positions in these departments.
.3.3 The Media
Frith argues that DJs hold the most significant position in music as airplay is the most effective method of promoting a record. Despite notable exceptions such as Jo Wiley and Anne Nightingale, national radio for alternative music is still dominated by the male DJ.
Music journalists also act as cultural intermediaries, their opinions stretch beyond the reader to define the current cultural shape of music. Their reviews influence record companies by alerting them to possible new signings and showing which bands to promote. In most music magazines, the female journalist is in a minority and is often given the more lightweight articles. This trend is particularly evident in the 'serious' monthly music press in the UK, the workforce of magazines such as Q, Mojo, and Uncut is heavily biased toward the male. However, Britains only weekly alternative music magazine the NME is more balanced, with half of the journalists being women and many of the main features being given to prominent female writers like Sylvia Patterson, April Long, and Victoria Segal. Still there is strong evidence of a dominant hegemonic masculine view in the music press. Women are often presented in sexual terms rather than as craftswomen and are rarely asked about their instruments. This can also be seen in the use of photographs, which are generally chosen by the male editor and clearly made on the basis of sexual attraction. Even the NME falls foul of this, with the front cover of the 9th March 2001 issue consisting of a close-up shot of a woman's bikini-clad breasts, referring to an article on clubbing in Ibiza.
.3.4 Promoters and Agents
The majority of the promoters for prestigious venues are male. This means it has, in the past, been difficult for all-women bands to be taken seriously by such promoters unless they present themselves as sex objects. Today sexist ideology generally works in more subtle ways, though female bands are still regarded as a specialty novelty act.
The manager of a band is involved in developing a strategy for commercial success, therefore they have input in creating the 'final product' of image, publicity, and venues played. Despite punk opening up band management for women, the majority of managers remain men. The very 'maleness' of the music industry affects women musicians' opportunities and the general shape of their careers. The lack of women in positions of power within the music industry impedes their progress and curtails their numbers.
.3.6 Studio Technicians
In the recording studio, men generally do the creative and technical roles. There is a massive absence of women in the technical roles in recording music as women rarely consider a career in sound technology. The 1995 edition of Kemps International Music Group shows that women make up just 2% of the total of producers, engineers and programmers in Britain. The increased creativity and involvement of the producer has serious implications for the career of the female musician. The male-dominated world of the recording studio treats females as intruders, ranging from sexist jokes to straightforward prejudice against women working in the studio environment. This is shown in the following quote by Moira Sutton (manager of Red Tape Studios, Sheffield):
One of the studios actually specifically said they wouldn't have women engineers or studio managers, because artists would feel that they couldn't behave naturally in front of them. (NME, January 8th, 1998)
There has been a reaction to this, with the increase of all-female studios such as Ovatones in London, and the creation of courses for women in sound engineering and production. Some female producers and engineers are becoming established and respected but these changes are only occurring slowly. A common course for many female artists is self-production - this is much more common in alternative music, with genres like Lo-fi attempting to downplay the importance of slick production on music.
.3.7 The Road Crew
When gigging, the sound, lighting, and road crews are generally male. The 1990s has seen an increase in the numbers of women involved but the difference is still vast. This creates a 'laddish' environment of sexist jokes and sexual boasting which serves to create an uncomfortable atmosphere for any woman involved.
Section 2 - The Progress of Feminism
2.1 The Originators Of Alternative Music
Iggy Pop is commonly regarded as the godfather of alternative music, particularly his work with the late 60s/early 70s proto-punk band The Stooges. He is also one of the most extreme and vocal chauvinists in music. Stooge's songs like 'I wanna be your dog' and 'Search and destroy' present Iggy's sexuality as predatory and aiming to ultimately destroy his sexual victim. He sees himself as a sexual nomad, fearful of women sapping his energy and power. In a 1979 interview with the NME, Iggy said:
I tell you all the bitches - all these women - want me now because they can sense that strength in me, and they want it oh so bad. But they're not gonna get me uh huh - only on my terms. Because I've got more important things to do, and I can not, and will not, have my time wasted. (NME, March 24, 1979)
Clearly, he has little respect for women. He sees the male-female relationship as a battleground with the male fighting to keep his strength against the female's attempts to drain him of his power.
Just as Iggy Pop is regarded as one of the major forerunners of alternative music as it stands today, Patti Smith is held in equal esteem, particularly in female circles. She came to prominence in New York 1975 just as punk was making waves on the other side of the Atlantic. As Smith said of the people who bought her early release 'Those kids that bought Horses or 'Piss Factory' became the Clash, became the Sex Pistols, became a million other bands.' She took the tomboy approach in entering the patriarchal world of music, impersonating the toughness, irreverence and independence of the male rebel posture. This tradition has run through to other female artists from L7 to P.J. Harvey. This approach initially seems unsatisfactory as it merely emulates male rebellion, along with the misogyny that pervades it. However, as the earliest early she-rebel Smith had little other option and she can be said to have succeeded in subverting the classic image of male rebellion by giving it a female twist. This is shown by her covers of the macho classics 'Gloria' and 'Hey Joe' in which she gives them a female point of view. Her main statement of feminist intent was 1978s 'Rock and Roll Nigger' (Easter, 1976) which announced that female rebellion was the new frontier. Patti Smith was the original prototype for the female Dionysian spirit and inspired countless of females to enter the field of music.
Another important pioneer of feminist issues in alternative music is Yoko Ono. Yoko was an outspoken feminist and many of her songs from the early 1970s covered issues of sexual equality. Her first explicitly feminist song was 'Sisters O Sisters' from 1971. Her actual music was a harsh and confrontational barrage of noise which many punk groups co-opted and refined in the late 1970s.
2.2 The Punk Scene
The birth of alternative music occurred in 1975 with the dawn of punk. This subculture also saw the first real scene in which female musicians began to gain an increased visibility and importance. Punk changed a whole range of existing rock conventions and opened a space in which women could play. While punk itself only really existed in Britain from 1975-76, its after-effects saw increasing numbers of women entering the music scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Punk simplified music in terms of structure and rhythm, making spirit more important than expertise. This led to many women to gain the confidence to join a band and get up on stage. Vi Subversa (of Poison Girls) explains this:
We emerged in 1976/77 when the punk thing happened. Punk was very important because until then I felt alienated from music. The ethos of punk was that anyone can get on stage and do it. If punk had not happened I don't think we would have been allowed on stage. (UNCUT, June 1999, p. 19)
The sheer nerve of the women, in getting up on stage and trying, was appreciated and respected.
The established gender conventions of performance, image, and appearance were undermined by Punk as the traditional emphasis on attractiveness and glamour was challenged, rejected, or playfully undermined. Conventional notions of femininity were attacked and parodied by band names such as the Slits, the Harpies, and the Snatch; and in the celebration of ugliness, with male and female punks applying garish make-up and displacing the emphasis on 'natural' beauty.
One of the most important Punk groups was X Ray Spex, in particular the singer Poly Styrene. By not fitting the conventional notions of femininity, Styrene's presence in a band was enough to challenge the masculine norms of music. The song 'Art-I-ficial' (Germfree Adolescents, 1978) is a tirade against constructed prettified femininity. The ethos of X Ray Spex was inauthenticity, Poly Styrene's name and songs like 'I am a cliché' flaunted her fabricated nature. Their most successful song, 'Oh Bondage (Up Yours)', released in 1977 attacked the objectification of women head on. However, the irony of lines like 'Bash me, crush me, beat me to the floor' was missed by many and the single was banned by the BBC.
In America, the person most associated with the rise of punk and New Wave music was undoubtedly Debbie Harry. Blondie's music had little to do with punk but became involved in that scene because of the radical nature of the band. Harry explains that 'an aggressive female front person had never really been done in pop. It was very difficult to be in that position at the time - it's hard to be a groundbreaker.' A promotional poster for the Blondie song 'Rip her to shreds' had a picture of Debbie Harry with the caption 'Wouldn't You Like To Rip Her To Shreds?" before Harry demanded its removal. At first Harry was treated solely as a sex symbol by the media, and despite never expressing any explicit feminist beliefs she managed to reverse many of the sexist views about the song-writing ability of women. The influence and credibility of Blondie has continued to the present day.
Other highly regarded female punk groups were the Slits, the Raincoats and the Au Pairs. Although these bands failed to achieve commercial success their influence continues to this day with major female figures such as Courtney Love and Kim Gordan of Sonic Youth citing them as an inspiration. The Slits' key anthem is 'Typical Girls' in which they announce a series of put-downs that would be deemed misogynist if it came from a male voice. Here, the Slits define themselves as the antithesis of the non-rebel girls who are more concerned with appearance and hygiene, duped by media brainwashing. The path taken by the Slits and the Raincoats led them to demystify the feminine and onto an affirmative politics of the body, calling for a less alienated, more 'natural' way of life for women. The post-punk demystification phase of alternative music can be regarded as one of the most important for women. Reynolds and Press claim 'there has never been such concerted involvement of women in bands, as players and ideologues'. In retrospect, one of the chief achievements of punk rock in the mid-'70s was to shatter the stereotype that assigned women to particular roles and instruments. Many punk bands featured women on electric guitar, bass, and drums, roles which had usually been reserved for men, with rare exceptions such as glam rocker Suzi Quatro. Self-contained, all-women rock groups that wrote their own material had been rarities, but bands like the Slits and the Raincoats did much to trash those unwritten rules. What's more, mixed-gender lineups, with women sharing the songwriting, vocal, and instrumental duties with males, also became increasingly frequent. Some of the best first-generation punk singers - Patti Smith, Deborah Harry, Siouxsie Sioux, a revitalized Marianne Faithfull - were women that did much to redefine traditional female rock images, singing about politics, sex, and alienation (sometimes all at once) with forthright, occasionally theatrical abandon. This served an important catalyst for women's entry into music making, enhancing career chances of all women musicians by the early 1980s, compared to the preceding period.
Despite this, punk also allowed for some of the most blatantly misogynist lyrics ever written. Reynolds and Press (1996) profess the view that 'The vicious vehemence of punk was ultimately derived from the hyper-macho, misogynist white blues of the '60s' (Reynolds and Press, 1996, p. 24). The Sex Pistols in particular took their influences from the misogynist Mod anthems of the mid 60s, covering the female put-down songs 'Stepping Stone' and 'Don't You Give Me No Lip Child'. The message of these songs was originally about rejecting women, but the Sex Pistols twisted this to express their rejection of society. The Sex Pistols did however, take the original intention back on board for the song 'Satellite', which attacks a female scenester who resembles a 'fat pink baked bean'.
In his study of punk Laing (1985) states 'the lifting of the taboo on the unsayable in rock discourse ended in a new way of saying something quite old: a celebration of male sexuality as essentially aggressive and phallocentric'(Laing, 1985, p.34). This is most evident in the work of the most commercially successful of the punk groups, the Stranglers, who are also one of the most misogynist groups in the history of popular music. The first song on their debut album, a song called 'Sometimes', is about beating up a girlfriend. In an interview with the NME, the singer Hugh Cornwell explained the lyrics:
I think a lot of men like to dominate women. A lot of women like to be dominated... I think subservient women are a bit pitiful. (NME, May, 1977)
Other songs like 'Death and night and blood' were written from the point of view of a rapist. The British music press were quick to criticise the Stranglers for their sexism, however their popularity continued to rise. The Stranglers attitude to women can be most adequately summed up by their comment about an incident in Lansing, Michigan, where their appearance was met by a demonstration by forty feminists:
So we tried to kidnap one and kinda manhandled her into the coach.... There was a big fracas and she got away unfortunately.... but I bet she was really excited and turned on by it.
However, The Stranglers' blatant chauvinism was exceptional by the general standards of punk and they were easy to dismiss as a retrogressive throwback, due to their traditional musical style.
More insidious and ignored was the sexism of Malcolm McLaren, who, due to his managerial work with the Sex Pistols is regarded as one of the principal figureheads of punk. After the demise of The Sex Pistols, McLaren was offered to manage an all-female punk band called The Slits. The idea he proposed involved creating a film in which the group took a trip to Mexico, intending to become huge stars but instead end up as strippers and prostitutes. Also, when discussing the original plans for the film he made about the Sex Pistols, The Great Rock Swindle, he said:
It did have all the lessons, it was a swindle, but it was another story, much more anti-feminist. (UNCUT, November 1999)
The fact that McLaren regards it as cool and subversive for the story of the Sex Pistols to have an anti-feminist slant was ignored at the time. McLaren final act of note was his work with the group Bow Wow Wow in which he attempted to persuade the 14-year-old singer, Annabella Lwin, to pose nude for a magazine he envisioned called Chicken. 'Chicken' is paedophilic slang for underage children. Clearly McLaren was unable to think of a female outrage equivalent to what he achieved with The Sex Pistols. The women he worked with were regarded as pawns, never as agents in his plans.
However, punk did serve as a major factor in opening up the musical sphere to women. Female punk and post-punk performers went much further in challenging the sexist connotations of established performing styles than did their male counterparts. Laing argues:
The performance of male punk musicians generally showed an uncritical adherence to standard styles which emphasised macho postures. In complete contrast, most of the best-known female punk musicians set themselves up to undo the conventional performing roles provided as models by mainstream music. (Laing, 1985, p.57)
I would argue that the great rise in 1970s feminism was reflected in punk music by the increase in questionings of established norms and conventions.
2.3 The mid - late 1980s
Despite the mass influx of women into women during the era of punk and post-punk, the alternative scene for much of the 1980s saw a decline in expression of feminist views. Forceful females like Leslie Woods of the Au Pairs were replaced by the passivity of the backing singers for the Human League. Indie groups such as the Smiths, the Cure and My Bloody Valentine had great numbers of female fans but merely served to expression emotions of misery and suffering without offering a solution, ignoring the use of affirmative action to alter their situation. My Bloody Valentine were one of the few alternative bands of this period to have female members but they were relegated to minor positions in the band, with the guitarist Kevin Shields taking on the role as spokesman and leader. The mid 1980s also saw the introduction of the term post-feminism. Susan Faludi regards this as part of the backlash against feminism:
Just when record numbers of younger women were supporting feminist goals.... the media declared the advent of a younger "post-feminist generation" that supposedly reviled the women's movement. (Faludi, 1992, p.14)
I believe this shift in the media's view of women had a great impact in hindering the work of forceful women during this time.
Indeed, the 1980s saw the increased popularity of various artists who can be described as misogynistic such as Nick Cave. Cave can justifiably be described as one of the major figures in alternative music. His career has spanned the past two decades, beginning with the post-punk Goth band The Birthday Party and continuing to this day with his work with the Bad Seeds. While being relatively commercially successful, he has huge critical admiration and respect throughout the alternative music scene. His songs cover issues of religion, murder, and love. A continuing theme throughout his work has been the killing of the woman that he loves. The murder of the beloved girl in his writing becomes a way to perpetuate the symbol of the Madonna and defeating the whore ('whore' in any way about the woman being sexually independent, including the possibility that she'll leave him for another man). After being murdered, the woman cannot change his fascist view of her in his mind. He controls her availability and eternality, she remains an ideal picture frozen in a 'repertoire of symbols of the beloved one'. Finally, the murder makes the victim larger than life, heroic. The opening track on The Birthday Party's Junkyard, 'She's Hit' contains violent imagery of mutilation and murder; seemingly expressing Cave's anger and despair over women's propensity to revert to the level of meat, to 'woman-pie'. Reynolds and Press's (1996) analysis of Cave's obsession between women and death suggests:
Beneath his grief lurks a strange resentment, a sense of betrayal that might be transcribed as 'never love a woman, not even your own mother, because she'll die on you'. (Reynolds and Press, 1995, p.28-30)
Cave's misogyny is in a romantic vein but serves to express the view that the woman is the possession of the man and is ultimately subject to his power.
Also Steve Albini can be described as a major player in the field of alternative music. He came to prominence in the mid 1980s and his stature has increased on into the 1990s. In his bands and production work he reflects a fierce sense of independence and complete refusal to be affected by major labels or album sales. Many of the successful and influential alternative artists who sign to major labels - including the Pixies, P.J Harvey, and Nirvana - choose Albini to produce their albums. This has come to be seen as a symbolic gesture on their part, to demonstrate that they have not 'sold out', that they still control their careers and continue to create work that is outside the mainstream. However, his work also includes some of the most offensively anti-woman songs ever recorded. The seminal Songs about fucking album of 1984 contained a song called 'Fish Fry' which was about a boy having sex with a girl at a fish fry (the American equivalent of a barbecue) then killing her afterwards, apparently out of disgust for how 'easy' she was. The lyrics include such aggressive lines as:
She's wearin' his bootprint on her forehead
Now I fuck you and I hit you with my shoe
And I huck your bloody body into Frenchtown pond
'Fish Fry' was by no means a one-off, other topics covered during Big Black's existence include 'fucking the local whore' and then setting fire to her and the rest of the town ('Kerosene' from the Rich Mans 8-Track album). At the time there was much outrage among the music press about these misogynist lyrics, Albini responded:
Anybody who thinks we overstepped the playground perimeter of lyrical decency (or that the public has a right to demand "social responsibility" from a goddamn punk rock band) is a pure mental dolt, and should step forward and put his tongue up my ass. What we sing about is none of your business anyway. (Liner notes for Pigpile live album)
Here, Albini seems to use his status as an 'outsider' in the music business as an excuse for writing such extreme offensive lyrics. Albini's description of killing women is in stark contrast to the crime passionnel of Nick Cave's work as it expresses a deadpan nihilism, born out of boredom and amusement and thus more abhorrent. Albini's post-Big Black career was a short tenure as the core member of a band controversially-titled Rapeman, which helped further cement his reputation as a misogynist. Despite this negative attention his reputation has increased in importance, and he can be deemed as one of the most important figureheads of 90s alternative music. He has produced albums for strong female artists and groups as P.J. Harvey and The Breeders; while these bands make no claim for feminism they are perceived as strong female role models and their acceptance of Albini sends out dubious signals.
The only women who came to prominence in the musical world during this period were artists such as Annie Lennox, the Go-Gos, and Madonna. While they expressed an image of female strength which was certainly inspired and enabled by the work of the punk and post-punk groups they rarely addressed important political issues, and even denied being at all feminist in the cases of Chrissie Hynde and the Go-Gos. While Madonna is arguably the most important female figure in music she never directly addressed issues of sexual equality; this role was usually taken by the more politicized and explicit bands of the alternative scene but as we have seen, there was a distinct lack of such artists at this time.
The very late 1980s saw the American alternative scene open up to accommodate women. Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth) and Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses) received much critical acclaim and attention. While not strictly feminist, they served as inspiration to the women involved in the next uprising of feminist artists in alternative music.
2.4 Riot Grrl
"Feminism isn't over, it didn't fail, but something new must happen - Riot Grrrl. Next time a bloke feels your arse, slags off your body, generally treats you like shit - forget the moral highground... Just deck the bastard."(Leeds & Bradford Riot Grrrls, June 1993)
The early 1990s saw the emergence of a subculture called Riot Grrrl started to take off. It was a grassroots feminist movement started in the punk scene and personified by leading bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. Tired of the overwhelming sexism of the current alternative scene and isolated by the lack of women getting involved in music, Riot Grrrl blasted new territory for a new wave of women getting into punk. Some music critics dismiss the groups as much sound and fury signifying little, or worse, as musically inept. Devotees charge that the music's harsh stances and explicit examination of gender roles and emotional abuse are precisely designed to make complacent listeners uncomfortable. Some feminists don't know what to think, debating whether women are proving a point by acting as sluttish and exhibitionistic as any male glam metal band, or just reflecting their own confusion by misguidedly emulating macho rock posturing. L7, Babes in Toyland and 7 Year Bitch are some of the most popular/notorious of these bands. Hole, featuring Courtney Love's anguished wails and relentless appetite for media attention, are the biggest of all of them.
The Riot Grrrl scene drew on the ideas of post-punk feminism-in-rock in creating an ideology. There was fierce questioning of the conventional ideas of femininity, rejection of the traditional ideas of 'cool', and a direct challenge to the idea that technical virtuosity is a necessity for creative development. Riot Grrrl also has some separatist qualities. It aimed to carve out a social space where young women can express themselves without being scrutinised by boys. This led to some women-only gigs but more often their gigs had restrictions - such as demarcating an area in front of the stage purely for girls to dance and mosh without risking male harassment.
Band names like Lunachicks, Babes in Toyland, and 7 Year Bitch, and CD titles like Pottymouth and Nemesisters are exposing - and, thus, diluting - through parodic mimicry elements of masculine discourse. Riot Grrrl lyrics are equally rich with transgressive style. For example, in addressing violence against women, 7 Year Bitch eliminates the possibility of rape by killing the violator in 'Dead Men Don't Rape'.
The uses of the female body for patriarchal satisfaction inspires Riot Grrrls to fashion the body itself as a political site. Understanding that the body is a text and that body image both off and on stage is an important signifier, a sense of 'posing' and 'posturing' prevails. It is not uncommon to see Riot Grrrl members in feminine, baby-doll dresses juxtaposed with clunky Doc Marten boots, creating a parody of daddy's little girl while simultaneously toying with notions of machismo. In choosing to wear the 'anti-fashion' Doc Martens rather than spike heels--which phallicise women's legs and, therefore, reinscribe objectification--Riot Grrrls resist domination under the heels of patriarchy.
Riot Grrrl members react to the "male gaze" by using their bodies as posters. In writing jarring messages such as "RAPE VICTIM" and "INCEST VICTIM" on their arms, hands, and stomachs they are mirroring and attempting to alter the perception men already have of women. The members challenge the corporate, male-dominated music scene while they demand self-representation and insist upon controlling their gender identity. They are seizing control of the representation of women by various discourses while simultaneously blurring gender lines in order to resist the essentialist identification of women with sexuality.
In using discourse - lyrically, textually, and bodily - Riot Grrrl members are effectively critiquing social, cultural, and patriarchal power relations as well as creating transformations that enhance their world. A typical Riot Grrrl flyer (see Appendix) clearly shows these techniques .And they are doing this without leadership, at the underground level, and outside of the academy. As Riot Grrrl member Jen Smith puts it, "The ways we exercise our ideas, our art, and our livelihoods are the ways in which we engage in activism"(www.riotgrrrl.com). As Riot Grrrls continue to define their personal identity and establish a measure of social agency, it is readily apparent that theirs is an efficacious feminist movement with sustaining energy.
2.5 90s artists - Post-Riot Grrrl
The early to mid-1990s saw many bands in the alternative scene to focus attention of the situation of women. The hugely successful grunge band Nirvana gave particular attention to the importance of women in music. Kurt Cobain recognised the feminine in himself more than any other rock artist at the time and served to be a hugely influential role model. Kurt reacted against the hegemony of the male rock image by wearing dresses and clumsily applying make-up to give him a sinister prettiness. Next to his wife, Courtney Love, he was introverted and unassuming compared to her brashness and confessional vocal stance. Love also served to subvert the traditional gender roles in music by taking on a verbally aggressive role. Suede and the Manic Street Preachers also presented an androgynous image, increasing their appeal among the female alternative audience. The Manic Street Preachers took this stance further than most by addressing issues of female oppression on their record sleeves, and in their lyrics and interviews.
In the eyes of many listeners and critics, the alternative scene in the 1990s saw the true cutting edge of women in music. This had been happening throughout the 1980s, the difference was that, following albums like Nirvana's Nevermind, this music was now being heard by the commercial mainstream after years of primarily being relegated to cultish audiences and noncommercial radio. Thus it came as a surprise to many to suddenly find women fronting, or entirely comprising, assertive guitar-based acts like Belly, the Breeders, and Veruca Salt, although this had really been going on since the punk era. Dozens of overlooked female acts of the 1980s, like Salem 66 and Scrawl, missed out on those major-label contracts and national magazine features mostly as a matter of timing, playing alternative guitar rock at a time when its audience was somewhat ghettoized into a college-educated elite frequenting small clubs and independent record stores. Women such as Bjork and PJ Harvey attempted to portray themselves as genderless artists. Bjork and Harvey both criticised the whole feminist movement and denied being part of it. It is notable that such artists continue to achieve commercial and critical success.
The Britpop scene of the mid 1990s was represented by various female and mixed gender groups. Elastica, Sleeper, Echobelly and Lush had strong female frontwomen and led many to believe that the new wave of 'women in rock' was a more permanent and long-lasting development. However, this was far from the case and when sales began to slip these female bands were among the first to be dropped by the record companies. In addition the extent of the backlash on Louise Wener (of Sleeper) in the pages of the popular weekly music press, was extremely harsh and overcritical compared to their treatment of the all-male bands in similar positions (60ft Dolls, Shed 7, et al.).
Mark E. Smith's band The Fall have had little commercial success but are critically recognised as one of England's longest running alternative bands. Starting as part of the punk scene and continuing to the present day, there have been numerous line-up changes while Mark E. Smith has remained the only constant member. He was arrested in April 1997 after kicking, punching and choking Julia Nagle, his girlfriend and The Fall's keyboardist, at a New York hotel during a US mini-tour. He narrowly avoided prison and was ordered to attend anger-management classes. Since then, Smith has refused to discuss this incident in detail and has made no attempt to apologise for his actions. While his lyrics show no real misogynist tendencies, the actions of such a respected figure in alternative music has set back the position of women. This incident appears to symbolise the situation of alternative music in the late 1990s - a complete lack of respect for women.
2.6 Present Day
Despite the advances of the past 25 years females are still marginalised in alternative music. There are more female journalists and record company workers than ever before but the actual alternative music scene has a distinct lack of female artists. The only recent all-female band of note to arise has been The Donnas, and these have treated as very much a novelty act by most sectors of the media. The most common comparison of them is to The Ramones and they suffer the very same accusations of 'dumbness'.
Alternative music's current obsession with alt. country (Mark Lanegan, Grandaddy, Wilco) and the slick, ironic post-modern pop of groups such as Ladytron, Zoot Woman and Broadcast, mean there is a distinct lack of attention of political issues of any type. These groups tend to either ignore women or relegate them to a low position within the band. Along with these groups the current British alternative scene is typified by all-male groups like the Stereophonics, Feeder and Travis who shy away from addressing anything political, claiming their purpose is merely to entertain rather than educate. The most popular alternative music of today is based around the aggressive American Nu-Metal scene, which includes bands such as Limp Bizkit, Slipknot and Deftones. These groups are almost entirely male and project an aggressive gang-style mentality. Indeed, Limp Bizkit's set at Woodstock 2000 is regarded as the catalyst for the violent riots and rapes which occurred at this festival, which at one time was supposed to encapsulate values of peace and equality.
Even the usually apolitical and gender neutral sphere of dance music has attracted recent criticism. The editorial comment of the 2 June 2001 issue of the NME criticized the record launch party for the debut single by dance outfit N*E*R*D, for hiring lap dancers and strippers to 'entertain' the various guests:
Has the music biz really evolved to a stage where the sexual exploitation of women is OK again? Is misogyny hip now? Or does it all stink?... Nine years ago, various punk groups joined together under the Riot Grrrl banner and threatened a boy/girl revolution. At the time it seemed appropriate, but we're definitely ripe for it now. (NME, 2nd June 2001, p.4)
The only real music scene to address feminist issues in the 21st century is the Digital Hardcore scene, based around the work of the politicized mixed-gender band Atari Teenage Riot. This remains an extremely underground scene due to their use of atonal noise and almost complete lack of melody. However, artists such as Nic Endo receive positive critical attention in the NME and fanzines such as REPEAT and MunchkinSound, which suggests they may have an important influence on the next generation of alternative bands.
Section 3 - Discussion of Results
The bulk of the research for this project comes from a series of interviews completed by a variety of females who identify with the alternative music sphere. The interviews were undertaken in order to find out:
- what effect the expression of feminist beliefs in the alternative sphere has upon their identity.
- how they feel women are represented in alternative music at the current time
- whether the modern female consumer feels it necessary for feminism to be expressed in music
- how the portrayal of women in the alternative sphere differs to that of other styles of music.
Over a period of approximately two months I organised and undertook 18 structured interviews with female consumers of alternative music. The majority of these were conducted on a face-to-face basis, but as an alternative (and sometimes necessary) way of gathering information I also conducted a small proportion of interviews by email and over the phone. The face to face interviews were quite lengthy and ranged from 50 - 70minutes in length. I declined to record the interview in audio as I was aware that many respondents are often uncomfortable when they know their remarks will be recorded word-for-word. Instead I recorded the interviews using pen and paper and structured the responses afterwards (see Appendix). I also chose to use phone interviews in three situations where it was impossible to meet up with the respondent in person due to problems of distance. In five instances I used email to gather my information, this approach was only undertaken in situations where either the respondent lacked access to a telephone or they lived abroad.
To gain a sample of females in alternative music I undertook a series of procedures to gain a balanced sample. Firstly, I pinned up a notice on the notice board in the Students Union of Sheffield University, giving a brief explanation of my study and a contact number. I also persuaded my friends at Liverpool John Moores University and Manchester University to do the same. I received 14 replies from this method and managed to undertake 10 face-to-face interviews and with the respondents. As a final method I also placed a similar request on newsgroups and various websites relating to alternative music, outlining my study and listing my email address. I received various replies and I chose five of these to use as recipients of an interview via email and three respondents to interview by phone.
The sample I used was made up of 18 females, aged from 17 - 32. The majority are in their late teens and early 20s, which most accurately represents the age range of the female consumer in alternative music. However, as there are alternative music fans well into their 30s I have included a person in their early 30s. Most of the females included in my sample are English, but as this project includes many American bands I have also included some American women, as well as an alternative music fan from Sweden.
As my interview questions cover sensitive issues I attempted to make the interviews as relaxed as possible, usually meeting up in quiet coffee shops during the daytime. I began the interview with an outline of my study so they realised the exact issues to be covered. I also gave my interviewees the opportunity to ask me questions about my research and my own particular views, but the majority declined to do so. All my interviewees declined to remain anonymous.
One problem in undertaking my interviews related to my own gender. As a male it is understandable if the female interviewee was wary of discussing such issues with as much frankness as with a fellow female. I was aware of this potential barrier and began my interviews with a reassurance of my neutrality. I do not feel that this issue caused any serious problems as most of the answers I received were open and informative. This was less of a problem with the email surveys, but may have still caused some bias.
3.2.1 Discussion of Results
In the 11 questions I posed to my interviewees I covered a range of subjects, many of which overlap and reveal different aspects to their opinions. Below I have attempted to pick out the relevant information and place it into a coherent whole. I believe this information is vital in showing how the modern female is affected by the alternative music culture in which she resides. Due to the age range of my subjects the information given is mainly based upon the 1990s, with a particular emphasis on the past few years. This is essential in understanding the overall impact of feminism in alternative music as there has been little recently published information on this topic. Most literature is out of date and focuses on the early 1990s grunge and Riot Grrrl styles. The information below culminates the information above, which spans the progress of feminism in this sphere of music, and portrays the relationship which alternative music and feminism currently occupy.
The first important revelation was that nearly all the females interviewed support the need for some form of female empowerment. The various responses show that they believe that the gender balance is far from equal. Despite attitudes in the media that suggest that the battle between the sexes is over, young women like Elisa believe 'We are made to feel subordinate to men in every sense of our lives and this should be stopped.' However, it is interesting to note that Elisa feels the need to qualify this statement with the comment that 'I would like to add that I do NOT hate men in any way shape or form'. She is seemingly aware of the current trend for feminists to be described as 'men haters' and addresses it as such. This backs up Susan Faludi's claim that young women today are wary of the feminist label and shows that this has continued from the 1980s to present day. Most agree that the social condition of women has improved over the last couple of decades, but feel there is still much work to be done. The many varieties of feminism are acknowledged and the common sentiment is that there is a long way to go before women are seen equal to men. Two of the interviewees professed the belief that sexual equality had been achieved but stressed the need for 'vigilance' in maintaining this.
3.2.2 Effect of Feminism in Alt Music Upon The Identity of the Female Consumer
In looking at how alternative music has helped women define their own identity one thing was stressed by many participants - that the groups they listen to had helped to define their identity but that this identity was as an individual not as a female. This opinion was repeated by the majority of the women I spoke to 'It affects my personality but I think it's down to me to define and discover my female identity.'
The point was made that alternative music serves to classify all its members as 'outsiders' regardless of gender. It seems the female consumers prefer to focus on this aspect rather than any divisions within it as this puts them on an equal level as the males involved in the scene.
The belief that the music that they listened to when younger helped them in coming to terms with their identity as an adult woman was also expressed by many:
It was very influential and helped a great deal with me learning what a woman should be and what part I had in the whole becoming a woman thing.... Now that I'm older though, I think am less impressionable.
It seems that alternative music is helpful when entering adolescence in terms of opening up the opportunities of identity and the interviewees acknowledge this. Alice Horton, a 21 year old student at Manchester University explains that the Riot Grrrl bands she listened to when becoming a teenager made her aware of the many problems suffered by females in today's society. This inspired her to seek out feminist art and literature, this is echoed by Katherine Cooper, a student of Liverpool John Moores, who cites listening to the Manic Street Preachers as a teenager as a major influence in seeking out literature by feminist writers such as Dworkin and Valerie Solanas. Alternative music is seen as vitally important in exposing the young consumer to views that they would find otherwise inaccessible:
Certainly when you're younger, really inspirational bands give you a 'way-in' to types of ideas that you don't really get access to anywhere else.
Another repeatedly expressed view is that alternative music serves to solidify and expand upon views that they already hold. Joanna Loizou states that her political views have been influenced a great deal by the groups she listens to:
Although it may be more a question of finding something which just repeats what you already knew or thought, and puts it in a much nicer way.
An interesting point expressed by two of the interviewees was that the fans of alternative music are generally male and that strong women in music, like Courtney Love and P.J Harvey, have made it more acceptable for them to become music fans. My sole European interviewee, Bekila Hapson, stressed that the female-based music she listens to makes her feel 'stronger, happier and more self-assured'. She describes how she uses P.J. Harvey lyric "You leave me dry" to deal with the men she encounters:
Like if they left us dry it wasn't us who were inhibited or boring, it was them not being able to excite us. Using that phrase helped us handle it better.
She also expresses the view that the groups she listens to are fundamental in helping her define her own identity 'What if all I had was Britney Spears?! Then I'd have a serious identity crisis!'. Clearly, the beliefs held by groups on the alternative scene are important in helping young women choose and refine their identity.
3.2.3 Feminism of Alternative Music at Present Time
The people I interviewed were divided in their opinion of the position that women currently hold in the alternative scene. Marie Shaw believes that despite the lack of successful females in today's alternative scene, the issues surrounding female musicians are not really relevant any more:
Perhaps we have got over the fact that females can play instruments and write songs and have just accepted it.
She prefers this view and feels there is no real need for a focus on women in alternative music. Elisa also takes the view that women have gained an improved position in music and Suzanne Sanders states that:
Women have made a lot of great strides in music, and I think alternative music seems to be the one area in which women can find equality.
Catherine Durose agrees that despite various barriers, women are currently in a better position in alternative music than in the past.
However, the majority of the people I spoke to are unhappy about the position of female artists in the current alternative scene. A major issue is of the trend to sexualise the female and ignore her talent and skills. Debbie Grant describes how she sees the modern alternative female artist as beginning life as a blank canvas and being dolled up with empty ideals, she describes them as 'alternative music Barbie's'. She gives the example of Patti Smith never stooping to use her sexuality. Tina mirrors this opinion as she believes the current alternative trend is all about appearance, she describes the current scene as 'boring' and 'sexist'. Daniella accurately depicts the problems of this:
This is constrictive because it could be perceived that women's only power in music or society or anything else lies within their sexuality and therefore they become defined and held by representations of their sexuality rather than accurate representations of their ability.
Katherine also cites the societal obsession with body image as the cause of male dominance in the field of alternative music, however she has faith that this trend is slowly changing.
There is also the issue of the under-representation of women. Almost all the people I surveyed agree that females are not adequately portrayed in the alternative scene. Sarah Young argues that this is due to the scene consisting mainly of male consumers and therefore it makes sense that the majority of producers are also male. Lora Keyte believes that this makes the inclusion of various women more important, as:
By being rare they send out a vibe which says stand up and take notice because I have something to say.
Alice Horton takes a more negative perspective on this as she describes the alternative scene as being less political than it once was and more oppressive of women at this time than in the recent past. Similarly, Aneesa describes the present scene as largely apathetic with a lack of female bands who have a doctrine worth learning about.
Heather mentions the Nu-Metal scene as being overtly macho and aggressive. She describes the violent nature of the gigs which serve to exclude women and describes how one of her female friends was molested at a recent Nu-Metal concert. Alternatively, Alice Smith describes how many of the younger females she knows are huge fans of this scene and as such she pictures a reaction to the machismo of the scene with an influx of female bands playing in the same style.
3.2.4 Importance of feminism in music
There is another strong division over whether it is actually important for alternative groups to express pro-female views in their work. Sarah Young argues that entertainment is the sole purpose of music 'If I wanted to hear a lecture I'd go to university.' Marie Shaw agrees that the core value of music is that of entertainment. She explains that as all popular music is essentially disposable she believes that this makes the use of politics in music an irrelevancy.
However, the majority of my interviewees see the realm of alternative music as extremely important in educating people about relevant social issues. Although most regard the entertainment value as foremost in their liking of a band, the expression of political views comes as a welcome secondary feature:
In an increasingly depoliticised world where young people feel disenfranchised, anything that a band can do is great.
The overriding view is that there should be a mix of both political bands to inform and educate, and bands for pure entertainment value for consumers of alternative music. Lora Keyte and Catherine Durose spoke of the power of music to touch and inform and what a waste it would be if this mode of communication was not used to try to change the current flaws in our society. Similarly, Heather and Alice Horton argue that political issues should be expressed in music as it is one of the most effective ways to reach young people 'Music that is merely for entertainment breeds apathy.' However, as Alice Smith points out, the irony of expressing overtly political views means it is rare for such a group to reach major pop success.
4.2.2 Feminism in the Alternative Sphere as Opposed to Other Styles of Music
The common perception of alternative music is that out of the various musical styles it allows for a more explicit expression of political views, in particular that of feminism. Joanna Loizou speaks laughingly of the Spice Girls calls for 'Girl Power' and dismisses it as an empty slogan. However, Daniella McNee argues that such declarations actually have a much more important societal impact than anything a Riot Grrrl has ever said:
Geri Halliwell declaring that Margaret Thatcher was 'the first true Spice Girl' will touch more people's lives than 'Weaponry Listens To Love' ever did.
These interviews show that most girls in the alternative music sphere realise that pop groups have much more influence in subverting male dominance. In particular, Madonna is held in high esteem for becoming hugely successful and seeming to achieve this on her own terms. Even Debbie Grant, who criticises the music industry for focussing on the sexuality of women, praises Madonna for 'teaching young girls to be confident' and for having 'something to say for herself'. She is respected as a role model, rather than for what she has vocally expressed about the plight of women in society. The pop sphere is regarded as having more influence on young girls; Louise Roberts describes this effect of pro-female pop groups such as Destiny's Child 'Young girls ... are positively inspired by the pro-independence lyrics of their songs'.
She feels that as the girls grow older they will come to more appreciate the more political stance of 'real' bands like Hole. Similarly, Alice Horton says that issues of rape, abuse and harassment are seen as inappropriate in pop music so it is up to groups such as Bikini Kill to bring these issues to people's attention. However, some interviewees believe that these bands are bad role models. Heather Hampson criticise chart music as legitimizing the 'airhead' image of women expressed by pop stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera:
...Probably makes young girls think that to get any kind of power they must look pretty, show off their bodies, etc, which is awful.
Louise Roberts points out that an important aspect of alternative music which affects the influence on consumers is the media.
The press that surrounds it tends to be quite left wing and politically correct and I think that affects the way you think.
That alternative bands have more control over their appearance and lyrical content is regarded as a major factor. Also many people appreciated that in alternative music it is possible for women who don't fit the conventions of 'prettiness' to voice an opinion and become successful. Heather Hampson expressed an interesting point when she stated that alternative music serves to make the listener more aware of the real world, whereas pop and dance music exist as a form of escapism, to shut out the real world. This can also explain why the majority of respondents to my interview are students at either university or college - it seems the people who work in low-paid 9-5 jobs would rather escape from the monotony of their lives in a dance club or by listening to pop music at work, rather than becoming involved in political issues.
Dance music is generally regarded as an apolitical type of music, made mainly by men and women's involvement is usually limited to providing vocals to a backing track. Sarah Young points out that women are numerically better represented in the dance music of Hard House but this position is limited to that of DJ, rarely as a spokesperson. Hip Hop comes under much criticism for objectifying women, Joanna Loizou describes this scene as '... just degrades women and shows them as sexual objects and not much more.'
Alice Smith draws attention to women such as Missy Elliot and Kelis who are recent female hip hop artists attempting to combat the ingrained sexism of Hip Hop, but describes the politics of Hip Hop as 'overtly masculine'. Clearly, the overriding belief is that most musical scenes objectify and sexualise women and that the alternative music scene is possibly the sole musical arena in which issues of feminism are explicitly addressed. There are signs of female empowerment in the realm of Hip-Hop but these developments are relatively recent and it remains to be seen whether they will have any noticeable effect in the future.
Section 4 - Conclusion
My original intention in this project was to examine how feminist beliefs have progressed and developed since its emergence with the dawn of punk music in 1975. In outlining the development of feminism within alternative music my study has ignored many major figures and spotlighted some of the more marginal (yet influential) artists, as these artists tend to take things to their limits and in doing so, reveal much more. I undertook a series of in depth interviews in an attempt to discover how the modern female involved in the alternative scene believes they are perceived. To do this I felt it necessary to discover the effects that alternative music had upon their identity, both as an individual and as a woman. I examined how they believed females were presented in modern alternative music and how this compared to other musical styles. The study of the gender tensions in alternative music is necessary as rock music in general offers an imaginative space in which you can reaffirm your sexual identity, or stretch and sometimes escape these lyrics. Suzanne Moore describes this activity as 'gender tourism'.
Punk gave female performers a unique forum for the first time. Gillian G. Gaar (1992) affirms this:
If feminism had inspired women to create their own opportunities, punk offered women a specific realm in which to create their own opportunities as musicians. (Gaar, 1992, p.71)
I strongly believe that Punk has been the most important musical movement to address female issues. Feminised Alternative bands commonly cite being influenced by these bands and the groundbreaking steps achieved by women such as Poly Styrene and Patti Smith should not be underestimated. The intense media attention and relative commercial success of the punk groups had a stronger influence on society than any subsequent scene.
However, this first big wave of 'women in rock' in the punk and post-punk bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s, slowly died out and the mid 1980s alternative scene saw a barren landscape as far as gender was concerned. The only successful female artists of this time were strictly in the pop sphere, artists such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper may have brushed over the issue of female empowerment but never addressed the issues directly. However, the late 1980s saw the emergence of many mixed-gender bands such as the Sugarcubes, My Bloody Valentine, the Pixies and Sonic Youth. While these bands rarely addressed feminist issues they served to influence and inspire the next rising of women in rock in the early 1990s. This was seen in the success of all-female bands and artists (Hole, PJ Harvey, L7, et al.) and the Riot Grrrl movement.
Riot Grrl can be criticised for being a movement with a manifesto aimed at a limited group of women and even fewer men. It was scorned in the media for being too po-faced and taking themselves too seriously. But it needs to be noted that Riot Grrrl was extremist because, just as punk was, it had to be. As a movement Riot Grrrl has now moved on and fragmented, it still holds much admiration in the fanzine culture still in existence in Britain and bands such as Le Tigre are still touring to critical acclaim but little attention.
An ironic point is that the one alternative group which had the most influence on the interviewees' awareness of feminist issues, the Manic Street Preachers, is an all-male group. However, the members of this band, like Suede and Kurt Cobain at the same time, flirted with androgyny, using make-up to feminise their appearance. The Manic Street Preacher's lyrics addressed female concerns such as anorexia and the exploitation of women. Quotes by feminist writers such as Valerie Solanas and Andrea Dworkin were used in interviews and on record sleeves. They are regarded as the quintessential British alternative band of the mid 1990s and many of the women in the early 20s that I interviewed cited them as a major aspect in helping them deal with the problem of adolescence and in expanding their knowledge of political issues. I found this surprising as the majority of the literature about music and feminism of the 1990s pay little attention to this, with Reynolds and Press even condemning them as a band which held the ethic of the macho all-male gang. However, the apparent fact that an all-male band has taught young women more about feminist issues than any recent female artist shows that alternative music is male-dominated, even in arenas specific to women. After this invigorating and necessary period of hyper-awareness female artists seemed to back off, with only Courtney Love remaining as a forceful politicised spokeswoman for the alternative scene.
The late 1990s has seen feminism become part of the life-orientation of young teenage girls, with the hugely successful Spice Girls popularizing the slogan 'Girl Power'. In a sense, the Spice Girls have picked up on the Riot Grrrl theme, whilst diluting and commercializing it. Girl Power may be a superficial, individualistic marketing device and riven with contradictions but its interpretation by teenage fans has been liberating in effect. It has given credence to feminist ideas amongst pre-teen girls and even the term feminism has been revived.
Riot Grrrl occurred at a time when alternative culture seemed to be flagging, a situation very similar to the present day with all-male, apolitical groups such as Travis and Stereophonics representing the more successful side of the British alternative scene, and the mindless aggression and machismo of the American Nu Metal scene. The issue of gender has petered out yet again and it remains to be seen whether a new feminist uprising will come along to overthrow the patriarchal norms still present in alternative music. Reynolds and Press claim that the only remaining frontier to explore is that of the female, as the current feeling is that alternative music has tired of the Dionsyian rebel tradition, that masculinity has said all it has to say.
It seem that gender will remain an issue as long as men dominate the music industry and female musicians remain an exception rather than the norm. The infrastructure of the music business is essentially male and this can only serve to intimidate and oppress female musicians. The whole culture of rock music is male-dominated and pervaded by a masculinist value-system which works against women because men dominate the space in the studio, in record shops and at gigs. While the world of alternative music is traditionally regarded as more politically correct and 'right on' than rock and pop music, this is sometimes far from the case. Alternative music merely allows for more extreme and non-populist views to be expressed. While many of these views have been promoting feminist values there are exceptions to this. While there has never been an identifiable scene which served specifically to put down women there have always been various popular and influential artists who have implicitly and explicitly expressed misogynist views.
My study has shown that there is a severe lack of information regarding female representation and empowerment in alternative music, particularly for the late 1990s. I feel there is a need for studies into the field of pop and Hip Hop music as they are musical styles which have generally served to oppress and objectify women but there seems to be an increasing reaction toward this, within the work of groups like Destiny's Child and artists such as Missy Elliot.
I feel the main problem I encountered was the lack of sociological theory, not only in relation to feminism in the alternative sphere but to music as a whole. Despite notable work by Simon Frith and the multitude of feminist examinations of the Madonna's career, there is little real theory based around the sphere of popular music. This means my work is based on mainly descriptive writing of the various musical scenes, which I then had to apply to sociological criteria. Also, I feel the interviews were hindered by my gender. While I received generally open and honest answers, I sense that perhaps my interviewees would have been more forthright had I been a fellow female. My subject matter altered greatly over the course of the year. At first I wished to cover gender issues in the whole sphere of rock music, ranging from the Rolling Stones and David Bowie to Eminem and the Magnetic Fields. Clearly, this was to great a topic to tackle so I narrowed my field of focus down to the more extreme offshoot of rock music: the alternative scene. Still, I found a vast amount of information in this one musical style, which meant that I had to determine which artists were the more influential and important in the way that they address gender issues.
Section 5 - References
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Gaar, G. G. (1992) She's a Rebel. Blandford.
Faludi, Susan (1992) Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women. Vintage Books
Frith, S. (2000) Entertainment. Mass Media and Society. Arnold.
Frith, S (1983) Sound Effects: Youth, Leisure, and the Politics of Rock'n'Roll. Constable.
Frith, S & Horne, H. (1987) Art into Pop. Methuen.
Kemp's International Music Book (1995) Showcase Publications ltd.
Kessler, T (2001) Let's Talk About Sexism. NME, 2nd June 2001, p4.
Laing, D. (1985) One Chord Wonders: Power and Meaning in Punk Rock. Open University Press.
MacDonald, M. (1997) Representing Women: Myths of Femininity in the Popular Media. Arnold.
Negus, Keith (1992) Producing Pop: Culture and Conflict in the Popular Music Industry. Edward Arnold.
O'Brien, L. (1995) She Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop and Soul. Penguin.
Raphael, A. (1995) Never Mind The Bollocks - Women Rewrite Rock. Virago.
Rapping, E. (1994) Media-tions: Forays into the Culture and Gender Wars. South End Press.
Real, M. R. (1996) Exploring Media Culture. Sage Publications.
Reynolds, S & Press, J. (1995) The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock'n'Roll. Harvard.
Steward, S. & Garratt, S. (1984) Signed, Sealed and Delivered: True Life Stories of Women in Pop. Pluto Press.
Wells, A. & Hakanen (1997) The Emotional Use of Popular Music by Adolescents. Mass Media and Society. Ablex Publishing Corp.