Friday, October 20, 2006

Gender Norms, Billy Corgan style

When I first started getting interested in music in 4th grade, one of the first artists to catch my attention was The Smashing Pumpkins. The band mainly consists of men, but there was a female bass player named D'arcy that made the lineup slightly more diverse. (Unfortunately, she fell victim to crack a few years back and was kicked out of the group, ultimately being replaced by former Hole bassist Melissa Auf du Mar)The male members of the Pumpkins did not promote traditional "alpha male" characteristics as much as other bands such as Pantera or Megadeth in that they experimented with feminine actions like wearing makeup and brightly colored clothing. The male members are definitely not traditional "manly-men" and D'arcy is not a traditional "girlie-girl", but more a mixture of both. They were not afraid to be seen differently than other people or labeled freaks, which seemed like a defiant thing to do and instantly got my respect.

Billy Corgan's songwriting was also high personal and reflective, which does not fit socially constructed norms for men. We are taught that men should really hide their emotion and be indifferent to what happens to us, no matter what. The Pumpkins decided to announce their insecurities, fears, and feelings thru their songs and did not mind if the public criticized them for it.

Grunge music gained credibility and influence as 80s hair metal started to die. The hair metal scene was highly masculine and seems to have alienated a substantial number of people that didnt really identify with so many strong, continous male characteristics.


Blogger Mariska said...

Im a big fan of Smashing pumpkins and really appreciate many of there songs. Cherub rock is one of favorites.

9:50 PM  
Blogger I'm a Cat. said...

I imagine that the music industry is probably the stronghold of crossed gender norms. At least withen the last three decades.

12:01 PM  
Blogger toddo said...

isnt this band a sort of precursor of indie/alternative rock? sort of defining themselves against mainstream rock, and especially against, as you point out, gender conformity. Today's indie is filled with non-macho guys like, say Death Cab for Cutie or the Decembrists--sweetvoiced and bespectacled brainy dudes. a whole other style of masculinity than, say, the strokes/dirty pretty things kind of punk macho.....or at least thats my impression.

That last sentence was added not to sound like the Annie Hall professor....

1:03 PM  
Blogger toddo said...

what im a cat said (Nick) too.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Tgarth said...

I would agree. I have been a fan of smashing pumpkins for a long time, and there image has not been gender bias, but a mixture.

4:17 PM  

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