The Reclaiming of Masculinity: A Regression of the Female Voice in Mainstream Rock Music

Essay by MittyCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 2008

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Listen for an hour to a Clear Channel franchised rock station. In that time, a variety of musical styles in modern rock are interspersed with older tunes of decades past; a second hour of listening yields similar results, as does the hour following and so on the pattern continues. After listening only an hour, however, a very broad trend presents itself, a trend seen as well on recent billboard charts that document the popularity of mainstream and modern rock singles and modern rock albums: a scarce representation of the female voice. Mary Ann Clawson notes in her study "When Women Play the Bass," from the publication Gender and Society, that "the prominence of such [female] groups [as Hole, Veruca Salt, and Elastica] tends to be episodic in contrast to the all-male bands that dominate Billboard's 'Modern Rock' charts year after year" (196). Female vocals on mainstream rock radio are indeed a rarity; while male vocals monopolize the airtime, Amy Lee's lead vocals for Evanescence make only sporadic appearances along with Flyleaf (even less frequent), and a few late-night listening sessions present older singles from Stevie Nicks, Hole, and Janis Joplin, each outdated.

In this study, I will utilize "New Historicism," a rather new critical method of analysing literature that was first introduced in the 1980's. Taking a sociological approach, New Historicism studies the links between the text in question and the social, political, and economic circumstances established at the time the text was written. New Historicism bestows a wide definition upon the word literature, therefore, when operating under this discipline literature encompasses not only works canonically deemed classical, but also includes such textual genre as movies, magazines, advertisements, music lyrics, television shows, and other like subjects. While New Historicism does differ in some instances from traditional literary criticism, it still...