Amplifying the voice of women. On the representation of female musicians in alternative music publications (2000-2015)
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This master’s thesis questions how alternative music publications represent female musicians from the year 2000 until 2015. It does this by looking at the history of the press and its gendered discourse, and by making a case study of the publications of The Wire and Pitchfork. At the same time, it asks how and why discourse formation happens, how the music press has developed to its current state, and whether there is a relation of fourth-wave feminism to the analysed alternative music publications that are analysed. The time frame of 2000 until 2015 serves as a way to set up this possibility. Through a calculation of the number of women on the cover of The Wire, the number of women in the end-of-year lists of Pitchfork, and an analysis of the language used in both of these publications when discussing female musicians, it attempts to draw a general conclusion concerning their discourse in relation to female artists. It does this by placing the publications in the context of the various waves of feminism. The thesis concludes that neither of the alternative publications can be said to have a gendered discourse. The connection of these alternative publications with the larger context of the music press shows that, despite their participation in the same field, they do not take the same stance as the mainstream press. Both take a different approach to gender from the mainstream press, and can be seen as a continuation of feminist critiques of the mainstream’s gendered discourse. While riot grrrl was a self-published alternative to mainstream music journalism, and an example of third- wave feminism in the nineties, The Wire and Pitchfork are clear expressions of fourth-wave feminism (which is recognised as taking place from the noughties onwards) in their attempt to move past gender inequalities. It is only in a few cases that their music critics refer to a female musician’s role as a woman in the music industry, but this is done precisely in order to criticise the mainstream’s focus on femininity and female sexuality when discussing these artists. As such, this thesis’s case study of alternative music publications fills a gap within the ongoing debate of misogyny in the music press, while placing them in the context of the developing waves of feminism.