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Has the traditional male dominated gender role in contemporary popular music been affected by sexual representation of female artists?

This piece of work aims to identify the extent to which popular international female recording artists have changed/influenced traditional theories of gender politics in popular music over the course of the last twenty years.  I also intend to outline the ways in which they have succeeded in challenging traditional stereotypes in accordance with the current discourses on feminism of that particular period.  I shall, through the course of this work, refer chronologically to key performers from the world of music who have significantly influenced the representation of women by adopting into their personas a form of sexual characteristics that have been traditionally associated and restricted to male performers.  My aim is to offer an evaluation of Frith and McRobbie's theory that ''male domination of the music industry leads to representations of masculinity in contemporary pop music'' (Longhurst, 1995). 

Since it emerged as a dominant form of youth culture in the 1950s and 1960s with the explosion of popular music and rock and roll in particular the music industry has been characterized by a pervasive sexism (Shuker, 1994).  The majority of performers at this time were male, as this is still arguably the case, as were the main decision-makers in the broader music industry.  Sexism is defined as the denial of equal rights and power to women, as well as discrimination against female voices in music resulting in the marginalistion of women in the industry.

Other songs raised awareness about female issues and aimed to empower fellow African American women.  In 1991 Salt n Pepa's Let's talk about sex raised the issue of female sexuality and it's double standards while in 1998 TLC 's Unpretty criticized the social  pressure placed on women to conform to stereotypical ideas of beauty and appearance. 

''Women rappers present not only sisterly messages of inspiration and encouragement, but also harsh critiques of one another designed to elicit a higher consciousness about women's oppressions as well as women's inherent worth and integrity.''
(Stephens, 2004)

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