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Popular Music Studies Assignment 2000 Word Essay Michael William Day U1264179

(5) Examine the notion of music as a gendered discourse in relation to an artist of your choice. How does popular music engage with ideas about gender and identity? You should provide a detailed critical analysis of two individual recordings, videos, or live performances as part of this discussion. !

(5) Examine the notion of music as a gendered discourse in relation to an artist of your choice. How does popular music engage with ideas about gender and identity? You should provide a detailed critical analysis of two individual recordings, videos, or live performances as part of this discussion. ! !

When considering gender in any field or notion, one must first come to the realization that gender is not a black and white discourse. What was once considered a simple choice between male and female has now evolved into the understanding that sex, gender identity and sexual orientation are far separated and more complicated. Trans*, transsexual, queer (including gender queer, non-binary and 3rd gender), intersex and assigned gender, are all expressions of someones gender identity, being the gender they identify with, be it male, female, a mixture of both or neither. What gender one was assigned at birth my not necessarily be what someone identifies as socially, due to this what ones biological sex portrays my not define that persons gender identity. Gender also often gets dragged under the same umbrella as sexual orientation thanks to the LGBT. Sexual orientation is ones physical attraction to someone that may be the same, opposite, both or neither sex.

Illustrated graph of personal expression by www.ItsPronouncedMetrosexual.com

Creatively, gender (albeit as somewhat of a commodity) is used widely as a form of personal, social and political expression. It is used to exploit the idea of masculinity of men and femininity of women though over sexualization, gender roles and incorrect and overly exacerbated archetypes within gender and sexuality. Within musical context gender has often been used to exploit a market keen to identify with what could be considered a niche market or minorities. In this paper, I will explore how gender affects the way in which music is perceived and experienced as well as genders impact upon !
Michael William Day BA (Hons) Music Technology & Popular Music U1264179
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(5) Examine the notion of music as a gendered discourse in relation to an artist of your choice. How does popular music engage with ideas about gender and identity? You should provide a detailed critical analysis of two individual recordings, videos, or live performances as part of this discussion. ! !

the musical zeitgeist. I have decided to use pop singer Stefani Germanotta, better know as Lady Gaga, as a primary example of how gender can be harmfully exploited and depicted in a damaging manner for the use of commercial exposure and publicity. When questioned by myself about the use of gender within a creative setting, American transgender and LGBTQ activist Skylar Kergil stated; "An artistic approach to gender, whether it be through music, video, or otherwise, is critical in society's exploration of this social construct. To be able to feel gender expression through word or music is extraordinary, so long as an artist does not aim to speak for a community they are not a part of. When one uses fame to speak for others, especially in the context of gender and skewed perceptions, it can do harm to a cause that is currently trying to rise to the light." ! When considering Gagas creative merit in relation to her use of gender within her music, its important to establish, how she uses gender, why she uses it and her portrayals of gender and their appropriateness and factual worth. The single Telephone from Gagas second album The Fame Monster featured many representations of gender, gender roles, negative femininity, sexuality and masculinity, most of which in a negative narrative. MTF (male to female) transsexuals are used throughout the prison scenes as both inmates and prison wardens of whom are used to make unjust slurs towards Gagas own gender. Whilst stripping Gaga in the cell, one warden states to the other; I told you she didnt have a d**k followed by the reply of too bad by the other. In 2009, Gaga came under fire globally with rumors of her own gender identity being questioned. The medias over saturation of the story helped fuel the uneducated publics perception of what is acceptable to say, such as an article by Urban Legends titled Is Lady Gaga a Man? A Woman? A Hermaphrodite?(2) Gagas (who is credited to the writing and directing of the video) has been a long standing LGBT activist. In 2011 she received the Trevor Hero Award from The Trevor Project for her services to the LGBT community. It is very concerning to see how gender issues (transsexualism mostly) are presented to the public. Artists such as Gaga who have a large LGBT following have fans who hang off their every word and idolize their existence. In 2011 an interview with Gaga emerged on the Huffington Post website in which she was asked to discuses what she sees within the trans* community; I see the trans community as a very inspiring group that on a daily basis deals with obstacles and struggles that most of us can't perceive of. I think they should be revered and honored and protected and I think it's important for me, as an artist, to push those particular boundaries because of how many of them I know and how important it is to the young community and in order to stop bullying and to inspire teachers in schools and the heads of giant organizations to be kind and tolerant to one another so that we all may discover who we are in a free and loving space. ! !
Michael William Day BA (Hons) Music Technology & Popular Music U1264179

(5) Examine the notion of music as a gendered discourse in relation to an artist of your choice. How does popular music engage with ideas about gender and identity? You should provide a detailed critical analysis of two individual recordings, videos, or live performances as part of this discussion. ! !

Stating her love and admiration for trans people may have come as somewhat of a surprise after watching her Telephone music video. I am reminded of the evergreen episode of South Park in which the Jonas Brothers are outted as justifying selling sex to young girls by wearing purity rings and preaching religion and no sex before marriage. Within the music industry, it is not uncommon for artists to ally themselves with the community of which they wish to sell too, i.e. I can sell to you, as I am one of you and I can speak on your behalf because I stand up for you. More often than not though, these sort of perceptions fall apart when an artists true extent of knowledge and boundaries show. Terminology within the trans* and gender conscious community is of major importance and the word tr***y is considered possibly one of the most offensive terms possible, despite its wide usage on daytime TV. Once again the media have dictated what is and is not acceptable within a community that is not theirs to dictate to, one would never hear the term fa**ot or d**e on daytime television and yet the aforementioned is acceptable. In 2009 Gaga gave an interview with Entertainment Weekly in which she discussed her confusion about her sex appeal and in which her gender related perceptions were called into question by the LGBT community; I just don't feel that it's all that sexy. It's weird and uncomfortable. I look at photos of myself, and I look like such a tranny! It's amazing!.... I look like Grace Jones, androgynous, robo, future fashion queen. It's not what is sexy. It's graphic and it's art!.. I don't really think anybody's d*** is hard, looking at that. I think they're just confused and maybe a little scared." Gender fluidity is something that artists have played with for years within the music industry in order to gain publicity and sell. This ambiguousness and use of androgyny is used to intrigue those who are targeted. In the book Listening to the Sirens which explores queer based idealisms in music, author Judith Peraino explores the role as a gay icon, but within safe boundaries; Madonnas force as an icon for gays and lesbians may well reside in her representation of sexual fearlessness and fluidity; nonetheless, her excursions into soft, stylish butch personas, her kissing the next generation female music superstars, are dismissible because she is safely ensconced in heterosexuality, as sexual object and also as wife and mother. Within the live performance spectrum things are no different. In 2011, Gaga went one step further with her gender-bending and presented as male at the Video Music Awards where she preformed her single You and I. Throughout the lead up to her performance at the VMAs, images of one Jo Caldrone (which is an anagram of Co Alejandro, Alejandro being one of her singles) were leaked and reported globally. The Daily Mail reported on Gagas movements and in 2011 the magazine reported on Gagas male alter ego and once again related it to her own gender identity; !
Michael William Day BA (Hons) Music Technology & Popular Music U1264179
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(5) Examine the notion of music as a gendered discourse in relation to an artist of your choice. How does popular music engage with ideas about gender and identity? You should provide a detailed critical analysis of two individual recordings, videos, or live performances as part of this discussion. ! !

I'm all woman! Some think that the singer's alter ego is a poke at the rumors that she is a hermaphrodite

This caption was given to a rather distressing picture of Gaga attempting to bind (compress her chest) using duck tape (pictured right). This is an incredibly irresponsible depiction of ways in which ftm (female to male) transsexuals could consider binding. The safety implications with binding are extreme and duck tape and ace bandages are considered the most dangerous and are widely discourse, Gagas use and depiction of their use shows an uneducated viewpoint on her behalf. Throughout Gagas VMA performance, she depicted herself fully as male, stating that her name was Jo and speaking of herself (Lady Gaga) in the third person as a
Picture from TheDailyMail.com

lover rather than as herself. During the piece, she over musicalized herself as a cisgender male with graphic talk of sex, smoking, heavy swearing and later flirting with other female artists, she also depicts confusing of female happenings during the performance; She gets out of the bed, puts on the heels, she goes into the bathroom, I hear the water go on, shes comes out of the bathroom dripping wet she still got the heels on!.. She said Im just like the last one In the performance she stated; Im theater, suggestion that in fact she does not question her own gender identity and that it is entirely fabricated for publicity. Within the music industry, gender is more commonly than not used as a tool to gain exposure and interest. Exploiting gender, be it their own or others, sparks debate regarding appropriateness and sensitivity. Miley Cyrus was once considered a innocent Disney princess, but recent actions have catapulted Cyrus into the lime light for her over sexualization and extreme femininity mostly through her music video for the single Wrecking Ball and her live performance with Robin Thicke who recently came under fire for his concerning song Blurred Lines for its rape culture promotion and over sexualizing and objectifying of women. Both artists constantly justify their actions (quite like Gaga) by reassuring people of their stance within the community of which they are being questioned from. Cyrus was recently reported by BBC Newsbeat stating;

Michael William Day BA (Hons) Music Technology & Popular Music U1264179

(5) Examine the notion of music as a gendered discourse in relation to an artist of your choice. How does popular music engage with ideas about gender and identity? You should provide a detailed critical analysis of two individual recordings, videos, or live performances as part of this discussion. ! !

I feel like I'm one of the biggest feminists in the world because I tell women to not be scared of anything" ! Thicke has also attempted to justify his gender stereotyping and sexist actions with lyrics such as; Ill give you something big enough to tare your ass in two, sung by rapper T.I. "Yeah, but I think that's what great art does. It's supposed to stir conversation, it's supposed to make us talk about what's important and what the relationship between men and women is, but if you listen to the lyrics it says 'That man is not your maker' it's actually a feminist movement within itself,"

Overall, gender is used very poorly and as a commodity within the music industry. What is often an immense struggle for gender identity, acceptance and overall transitioning is used to intrigue and mislead people through commercial portrayal. Of course this does not apply to all, just the majority. Artists such as Against Me lead singer Laura Jane Grace (MTF), depict the concept of gender identity as an avid struggle through her music where Grace explores topics often overlooked by the media such a dysphoria. As a devoted transgender rights activist, I personally fell that gender within music is depicted in a manner that is harmful and educates those with little knowledge on such matters in incorrect ways. The concept of gender fluidity so something beyond the realm of the average pop music listener and as Gaga herself states, as artists it is their responsibility to educate and attempt to spread awareness, though correctly.

Michael William Day BA (Hons) Music Technology & Popular Music U1264179

(5) Examine the notion of music as a gendered discourse in relation to an artist of your choice. How does popular music engage with ideas about gender and identity? You should provide a detailed critical analysis of two individual recordings, videos, or live performances as part of this discussion. ! !

References Against Me! (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.againstme.net BBC - Newsbeat - Miley Cyrus says she's 'one of the biggest feminists'. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/24911610 "I look like a transexual" Lady Gaga says what everyone's thinking - NZ Entertainment - Your daily fix of celebrity gossip. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://entertainment.msn.co.nz/blog.aspx?blogentryid=319190&showcomments=true In a Surprising Twist, Robin Thicke Is Now Convinced He's Starting a "Feminist Movement" PolicyMic. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.policymic.com/articles/57313/in-a-surprising-twist-robinthicke-is-now-convinced-he-s-starting-a-feminist-movement Is Lady Gaga a Man? A Woman? A Hermaphrodite? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://urbanlegends.about.com/b/2009/08/10/lady-gaga-a-man-urban-legend.htm (2) Jo Calderone Lady Gaga VMA 2011 You And I Live Performance [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUNCkw6OeOY Kergil, S. (2014, January 19). The Boy In The Huddy. Retrieved from http://theboyinthehuddy.tumblr.com/post/73843041442/an-artistic-approach-to-gender-whether-it-be (1) Lady Gaga - Telephone ft. Beyonc [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVBsypHzF3U Lady Gaga revives her male alter ego Jo Calderone for latest music video | Mail Online. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2098269/Lady-Gaga-revives-male-alterego-Jo-Calderone-latest-music-video.html Lady Gaga To Receive Trevor Hero Award For LGBT Community Work. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/20/lady-gaga-trevor-hero-award_n_1103896.html Lady Gaga Discusses Activism, Outing And Reading Her Male Alter Ego, Jo Calderone, As A Transgender Man. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/23/lady-gaga-jocalderone-transgender_n_978063.html Lady Gaga Discusses Activism, Outing And Reading Her Male Alter Ego, Jo Calderone, As A Transgender Man. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/23/lady-gaga-jocalderone-transgender_n_978063.html Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My2FRPA3Gf8 Peraino, J. A. (2006). Listening to the sirens: Musical technologies of queer identity from Homer to Hedwig. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Michael William Day BA (Hons) Music Technology & Popular Music U1264179

(5) Examine the notion of music as a gendered discourse in relation to an artist of your choice. How does popular music engage with ideas about gender and identity? You should provide a detailed critical analysis of two individual recordings, videos, or live performances as part of this discussion. ! !

Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines ft. T.I., Pharrell [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyDUC1LUXSU

Michael William Day BA (Hons) Music Technology & Popular Music U1264179