In a less-enlightened time, women were barely tolerated by the rock’n’roll establishment. They could sing, maybe shake a tambourine and look pretty, but that was about it.
In retrospect, the sexism and misogyny were unbelievable. But back in the day, that was standard operating procedure.
There were exceptions, of course: Aretha, Carole, Janis. But even they suffered at the hands of the old boys’ club.
Sexism continued through the early- and mid-seventies. The prevailing “wisdom” was that women just couldn’t rock. It was a biological impossibility, apparently.
But then along came punk rock and its sense of egalitarianism. The central tenet of punk was that anyone with anything to say should be allowed to say it, regardless of musical ability, class, race, religion–or sex.
The punk rock explosion of the 1970s opened more musical doors for women than any other era in musical history. This didn’t mean that the sexism and misogyny were over, but it did pave the way for more strong, powerful female musicians.
Slow, steady progress was made through the 80s. ANd yes, there were setbacks. But by the time we got into the next decade, the music world was being flooded with women, who in many ways, set the agenda for all rock music.
This is part two of our series on the alt-rock 90s.
Songs heard on this show:
Sinead O’Connor, Troy
Ani Difranco, Both Hands
Tori Amos, Crucify
PJ Harvey, Sheela-Na-Gig
Bjork, Big Time Sensuality
Sarah McLachlan, Building a Mystery (Live)
Liz Phair, Supernova
Alanis Morissette, You Oughta Know
Eric Wilhite took the trouble to make this playlist for the show.
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The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:
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