The Impact Of Popular Music On Societal Belief

1842 WordsMay 2, 20168 Pages
Gender is a construct that that pertains to the idea of being male or female. In contemporary contexts, gender identity goes beyond the hegemonic qualities of masculinity (physical strength, dominance and a strong sex drive) and femininity (nurture, passivity and materialistic), and branches into non-binary territory. Popular music both reflects and affects the perception of gender in audiences and, in turn, general society, through the portrayal of traditional and alternative gender roles and traits. In the last fifty years, prominent figures in the genres of rock and pop music have toyed with gender representations and made statements upon the true meaning of them. Through the analysis of the ‘gender-bending’ David Bowie and Boy…show more content…
Much like the sports world, the genre thrived on the societal coding of traditional masculinity - strength, dominance and being driven by conquest. It’s interesting then that David Bowie, famous for pushing the boundaries of gender, was widely considered as a mentor to masculine society (Stevenson, 2009). Arguably, his most important lesson was his defiance of dominant forms of masculinity that had pushed men to be entirely independent, self-sufficient and deny their emotional needs. Stevenson’s (2009) study revealed that many men would turn to Bowie in times of emotional stress and turmoil, hereby influencing male audiences to reject the innately masculine denial of emotion. The musician had encouraged masculine identities to no longer suppress their anxieties, but rather embrace and actively resolve them. Similarly, Bowie, along with peer Boy George, inspired a development of both masculine and feminine qualities within male audiences. Beyond their physical androgyny, the pair’s singing styles, “vulnerable and controversial” lyrical content, and non-traditional performance techniques contrasted the ‘norm’ of male presentation in popular music (Wood, 2003). Wood (2013) reports that audiences noted Bowie and George differed significantly from the stereotypical “American Marlboro Man” of their time. Boy George appeared as more of a “female diva”, using his clothing as a “sort of mask” to conceal his gender identity, while Bowie presented a progressive character
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