To what extent does gender and / or sexuality have an effect on the production/consumption of jazz, popular and commercial music?

Essay by kestrelxoxUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, December 2005

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Gender roles and imagery have profoundly influenced the way music is made and consumed. Throughout the decades, since the 1920's, society's preconceptions of gender and roles have determined the kinds of sounds and, later images, which can be associated with jazz, popular and commercial music. Although these have changed at various times - e.g. from the role of the housewife and mother in the 1950's to the career driven businesswoman of the 1990's, etc - gender roles in society have always been closely linked to those represented in music and the media.

This is evident in the difference in music advertising between 1950 and today. The changing views of the role of women in music have meant changes in how music is advertised. Where back in 1950, society viewed women's role in popular music as limited to mainly singing, now women are offered more options and although there are still instruments that maintain their 'male' significance, most offer a more general form of advertising and review.

One of the main instruments that do still use a 'male' significance in it's advertising is the electric guitar. In many adverts, guitars are advertised with women all over them or with a man in such positions that signify masculinity and 'phallic' connotations.

'Women in music are still prisoners of their sexual roles: for example, an ageing female rock star is almost an impossibility. Tina Turner is the shining exception, but she is black: Someone already on the margins through being black, gay or diverging from the norm in some other way, can bend the limits.'

Koskoff, E. (

Essentially, the music industry is a man's world. Many women have been successful but this can be mainly contributed to how they are 'sold' and, undeniably, their image. The most successful women in jazz, pop...