You don’t have to be a Debbie Harry, you can be a Patti Smith:’ The performance of girls in rock

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Rock music is seen as a predominantly masculine genre, with the majority of performers and members of audiences being men. When women do perform in rock bands they are all too frequently highly sexualised, symbolic or play instruments that are perceived as needing less skill (Clawson 1999). This research was conducted in the summer of 2014 through interviews with ten young people active in the rock music scene of a medium sized town in the West Midlands of the UK and two interviews with adult youth workers who work with the young rock musicians. Findings indicate that for some young women who are part of the music scene, being in a band is a way of resisting dominant discourses on feminine/masculine identity, which often purport that women in music adopt a ‘natural’ and by implication ‘unskilled’ musical position (Mayhew 2004). By adopting a place in perceived masculine culture girls can, as suggested by Whiteley et al. (2004) devise their own means of empowerment and individualism. In addition, findings suggest that playing rock music should not simply be understood as an act of youth disaffection but may be seen as a deliberate performance where an adult identity is rehearsed that conforms to many conventional expectations and marks not rebellion but transition to responsibility and ‘work’
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2016
EventInternational Girl Studies Association Inaugural Conference - University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom
Duration: 7 Apr 20169 Apr 2016
Conference number: 1


ConferenceInternational Girl Studies Association Inaugural Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'You don’t have to be a Debbie Harry, you can be a Patti Smith:’ The performance of girls in rock'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this