Monday, November 2, 2009

Top 40 Music and Contemporary Feminism

Although the excerpts we read from Andi Zeisler's book Feminism and Pop Culture don't focus on music, the author mentions that "in the early 1990s, music was a primary site in which women were challenging the roles that the industry had constructed for them, and performers...were rattling the walls of music girl's ghettos and calling out the forces, both personal and institutional, that wanted to hold them back".

This observation made me wonder if contemporary female musicians have continued this trend. Overall, it seems that feminism has become a marketable trend in recent years. Many media companies, particularly among the music industry, place popular female recording artists in seemingly empowering roles through two different methods of feminism.

The traditional form of feminism, in which women are known to be outspoken and stand up for themselves, their rights, and rely on intelligence in order to be seen as equal among males, is exhibited among many singers today. Artists such as Pink, Avril Lavigne, Taylor Swift and the majority of past American Idol winners (Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks) fit into this description.

However,other female musicians demonstrate feminism in a more explicit manner. Zeisler explains the concept of 'do-me feminism', in which women use their sexuality as a sort of weapon instead of protesting in a more dignified manner.Using the Pussycat Dolls as an example, Zeisler claims that "only instead of 'girl power', its members shrill something more akin to 'hot power'" (130). Top 40 artists such as the aforementioned Pussycat Dolls, Beyonce, Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, Lady GaGa and Britney Spears all have been known to take this approach.

Either way, all of these women are quite popular, especially among younger females. Whether we like it or not, their interpretations of these messages will somewhat influence how they view feminism as a societal issue. As Zeisler writes, "definitions of popular culture depend on who's defining it and what his or her agenda is."

1 comment:

  1. Wow Britney looks good in the video.

    I think Britney was revolutionary/ controversial for my generation in that she pushed the boundaries of what could be shown and how sexy just women can be. Just through her music videos alone, she pushed the envelope. She went from school girl, to tight red spandex outfit, to slave for you, to completely naked in Womanizer.