January, 14 2016
Can We Stop Gendering Music Genres?

Gendering music genres has strengthened a culture of sexism and misogyny. It's time we end it.

by Ralka F. Skjerseth
Culture
Share:
Music genres have nothing to do with your gender. Your gender doesn’t define what music you’re supposed to listen to, but society tends to divide music genres according to gender stereotypes.
 
For years, I’ve been observing people around me – friends and acquaintances – that a myriad of times I’ve come across people describing the differences between each other’s music preferences with gender-related terms; deeming certain music genres as masculine and certain others as feminine. Just like the way people associate colors and clothes to certain genders, they divide music into which genres are socially acceptable for men and which are socially acceptable for women. People are prone to glorify women who listen to the so-called “masculine” genres ­(because in the eye of society, women having interest towards things that men are fond of is superior), while they insult and question the sexuality of men who listen to the so-called “feminine” genres.
 
In the circle of fan communities of my favorite bands, I can decipher the misogyny and sexism among the male fans. Several times I came across fans of certain bands listened mostly by men who see attractive women with mutual music preferences as objects to fulfill their sexual pleasures. On the other hand, men who like music predominantly listened by women are prone to insults. Several musicians, from the genres that have more male audiences, are labeled “legends”, because they produce “quality music”, by the music industry. But when it comes to musicians from the genres that have more female audiences, mostly teenage girls, they are dismissed as lightweights, even an embarrassment to the music history.
 
The sexism has made music industries set target audience based on genders. Musicians that have more female fans intentionally write songs that women can relate to, and sometimes the same goes with musicians with more male fans. So as the sexism grows stronger, the segmentation between “which music is for men” and “which music is for women” becomes more distinctive. 
I want to raise awareness about this, because we are entitled to listen to whatever we want regardless of our gender without being judged. Music is a form of art that is universal and without boundaries. And it’s supposed to be genderless. Being a fan of a certain musician is about appreciating the sounds, the musician as individual and the significance of their songs. It obviously has nothing to do with gender stereotypes. Generalizations, including of gender, were constructed because of the existence of societal norms and culture that are human-made and thus, are not infallible.
 
So why can’t we, as sung by Ghost on their song Monstrance Clock, “come together, together as a one”?


 
Ralka F. Skjerseth is surviving the last year of high school. She is also a freelance visual artist and social worker from Jakarta, Indonesia. She sometimes writes reviews, articles, and poems too. In her spare time she devours Sartrean existentialism whilst shoegazing and with hardcore punk playlist blasting on the background. Her nonchalant misadventures can be found at @ralkeys.