For centuries music has been ever present, developing and changing with the times. Through experiments and artists eager to push the bounds of music, we have developed various genres and sounds. Today this musical experimentation results in different sounds such as rap, country, classical, rock-n-roll, alternative, and more. Especially from the 1950s through 1970s did we see an incredible emergence of new music. One of these new genres was rock, which later developed into punk rock. Today punk rock is still exists and thrives from the various adaptions its made.
Punk rock, a sub-genre of rock, emerged during 1969 to 1976 from a cultural exchange between the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Proto punk, the beginning of punk rock, developed during 1960 to 1970. This era of punk rock was characterized by bands such as The Stooges, The Sonics, The Monks, and more. Following after this era we have early punk which spanned from 1971 to 1975. Here we have a transition from proto punk to the more notable punk rock seen today.
During this particular era bands like The New York Dolls and The Runaways formed. After early punk we come to the era of full blown punk rock music which began in 1976 and stretches until today. This new type of music established a “non-mainstream” feel, sound, and genre. From my groups analysis we discovered that, overall, punk rock generally instilled gender stereotypes. Punk rock reinforced gender stereotypes by showing male leads continuously exhibiting dominance or aggressive action. On the other hand, punk rock did not reinforce gender stereotypes because female leads did not display subordinate non-verbal behavior to men.
Overall, my group’s findings were highly split, especially when comparing punk rock videos to Wallis’ theories. However, when looking at our data tables, it appears that punk rock generally seemed to agree with what we typically expect. For example, when looking at male leads who displayed dominance, we find the count at 11 compared to 4 for females. In addition, when looking at implicit aggression, male actors tallied in at 17 while their counterparts totaled.
Although, the first of Wallis’ hypothesis’ suggests female lead performers would display more subordinate non-verbal behaviors than male lead performers. Because punk rock tends to have more males than female leads, my group concluded that this was untrue. Though, when looking at music videos with female leads, such as Avril Lavigne’s videos, I personally found that she was not subordinate to her male counterparts. Additionally, Wallis’ second hypothesis reads, “Male lead performers will display more dominant modes of nonverbal behavior than will female lead performers.” My ground found that throughout the videos male performers were incredibly dominant and aggressive towards other males.
For example, the camera angles tended to focus on the male lead singer, allowing him to not only assert his dominance to others in the video, but to the audience itself. Wallis’ third hypothesis states, “Female lead performers will display more overt sexuality than will male lead performers in terms of suggestive gestures, facial expressions, and attire”. Overall, my group concluded this hypothesis to be true. For example, in many of the music videos female leads interacted with other male actors in sexual or suggestive ways.
For example, in Mr. Brightside by the Killers, female actors danced, entertained, and seduced their male counterparts. They appeared scantly clad and used more as an object to look at or enjoy than actual people. Lastly, Wallis’ fourth hypothesis entails, “Male lead performers would engage in more nonverbal displays of aggression than will female lead performers.” We found this to be true because many of the male leads tended to interact aggressively with others, whether it be physically or through certain looks and facial expression. Personally, I thought my findings fell in line with the overall findings of my group. After watching various punk rock videos from different times, I thought that despite punk rock being a different type of genre, it was still influence by the social norms and gender stereotypes society has created.
When we think of hip hop or rap videos, we automatically think of women being used as objects or dehumanized within lyrics. However, I found the same concept in punk rock, which is also something I had not really expected. I feel like there’s less of an emphasis on a woman’s body and her sexuality within lyrics or music of punk rock, but when it comes to the music videos, women are still used as objects or play pieces. As referenced before, we saw burlesque type of dancing in The Killer’s music video where woman were strictly used as props for the male gaze. In addition, most of the time if a woman was not present at all, we saw the emphasis upon the male interacting with other males and typically the behavior was not that positive. Overall, I felt punk rock reinforced gender stereotypes with the small exception of some music videos and artists.
Similarly to music being ever present so have gender restrictions, norms, and expectations. Over time, like music, these expectations have transformed and changed. By looking at different parts of society, we can interpret the different expectations society has on genders. Today, we see a lot of gender stereotypes perpetuated through media and music. Punk rock enables these stereotypes mostly through its portrayal of women and men in music videos. Despite its musical subject ranging, its actors do not. Many of the music videos did not set out to create any type of new ideas surrounding gender.
However, sometimes punk rock can refute stereotypes. Unlike many male dominated genres, punk rock does have its share of women artists who give the genre, and music videos, diversity. My group believes that, for punk rock to create a positive image, it should continue to diversify the gender of artists. In addition we believe that music videos with emphasis upon sex and sexuality should only be shown late at night on television. For music to become a more positive outlet for sexuality we must work together to create a media that does not portray, enforce, or suggest gender stereotypes.