Tuesday, August 1, 2017

From Schoolgirl to Rebel: How Women in Music Has Changed

   Songs that are written or sang are primarily dominated by the culture around the artist and how they reflect on personal experiences. The domestic lifestyle was a valuable trait for women to possess in the 1950s and 1960s, therefore, most music produced by girl groups was about love or innocence. Today's culture is less prim and female singers, such as Rihanna, Beyonce, Pink and Jessie J characterize their music with sexuality, realistic emotions and a party atmosphere to relate to listeners. However, unlike the pop/hip hop music mentioned, female country singers encourage their audiences to be independent and embrace their inner thoughts instead of pleasing others. The songs and what they are about are listed below to indicate how gender roles in music have changed over the decades. 

The McGuire Sisters - "Ev'ry Day of My Life" (1956) 
The three sisters croon about being dutiful and loving to their admirer each day, "trying to do what pleases" him so that he never leaves. One lyric highlighting that, if she gets her way, the man will be close to her "every day" of her life, emphasizing the importance of protection that men were thought to possess in the relationship. 

Marcie Blane - "Bobby's Girl" (1962) 

Since she is a teenager and "not a kid anymore," Ms. Blane sings her feelings about a boy she likes and promises that she will be "faithful" if they become a couple. The shy, schoolgirl nature of a 1960s teen girl is evident in the song, as Bobby is the "most important thing" to the singer above all else (heard in the first few sentences, as she knows immediately what she wants). 

The Cookies - "Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby)" (1963)

The Cookies are singing to a peer of theirs about how they love their boyfriend even though he is a "playboy." The style of the song is different, as they sing "So girl, you better shut your mouth," and abandon the stereotypical, sweet nature of a young woman in the 1960s. The roles are reversed because, as females, they are defending and protecting their lover from others who may think that the relationship will not be successful.

Shangri-Las - "Leader of the Pack" (1964)

The duality of a good girl and a "bad boy" are evident in this song, where the other girls comment on how lucky their friend Betty is to wear "Jimmy's ring." The scene where they met is the candy store, which takes the culture of the 1960s and after-school activities into account. "Bad boy" Jimmy is appealing to Betty because her parents dislike his nonconformist attitude and love for riding his motorcycle from "the wrong side of town," which is a different atmosphere than she is used to. Eventually, Jimmy's reckless behavior causes his death in a rainy motorcycle accident. 

Janis Joplin - "Piece of My Heart" (1968) 

This song illustrates the aftereffects of an unbalanced relationship, where Janis shows her partner "how a woman can be tough" after having her heart taken. As the years progress, lyrics likes these show how women dealt with their breakups realistically and were no longer taking part in traditional gender roles. 

Pat Benatar - "Love Is A Battlefield" (1983) 

In the music video, Ms. Benatar plays the role of a young woman misunderstood by her parents and society's standards of how people her age should act. In one scene, a woman in a bar attempts to escape a man harassing her before Pat and her gang of female friends surround him. The 1980s were a time that changed women's perception of themselves and each other after feminist movements, which influenced entertainment for years to come. 

Bonnie Raitt - "Not 'Cause I Wanted To" (2012) 

Bonnie Raitt sings about a realistic situation where it was her decision to leave her partner and refuses to forgive him. Songs like this are relatable to woman of any age and differ greatly from decades ago. 

Beyonce - "Sorry" (2016) 

This dramatic video illustrates that she "ain't sorry" for being angry in her relationship and directly tells her lover how she feels. In conclusion, this is radically different from love songs in the past, where women would be hesitant or shy to express their emotions to a male figure. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Stone Cold Survivalists

National Geographic

   Meet the Hailstone family of Noorvik, Alaska and the National Geographic television show, "Life Below Zero." Each day, Chip, Agnes and their seven children live off the land around them and craft the remains of animals for trade, which supports the lifestyle of Inupiaq Eskimos (Agnes' heritage). From a young age, the Hailstone daughters were taught how to safely and efficiently operate hunting rifles, spot which caribou are pregnant to leave alive for the next season, and successfully skin each animal they kill. As an Alaskan, utilizing the entire prey is vital for survival and the family's business, such as when the oils of an animal's brain are used to clean knives and shine boots. 

   In the video above, the Hailstones hunt a gray wolf, which is one of the most valuable pelts that can be sold on the fur trade. Agnes discusses the importance of "freeing the soul" of the animal, paying homage to both the wolf who gave its life, as well as her Eskimo ancestors. 

   Eskimo men and women equally participate in the same hunting activities, which abandons domesticity in women. Subsistence living in weather often 40 degrees below zero teaches young Alaskan women like the Hailstone daughters to respect the land and creatures around them while preparing for the most difficult season: winter. Stocking the freezer and watching for the tracks of predators are the daily activities that the family experiences during the months before winter. The personal journey that each girl makes to successfully shoot large animals, catch and gut fish and sell their creations is similar to the book "Julie of the Wolves," where a young Eskimo befriends a pack of wolves and survives in the brutal cold. 

  Although the Hailstone women spend each day outside overcoming challenges, they still keep in touch with their feminine side by wearing their favorite accessory besides a gun: nail polish. 

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