Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shattering Fixed Gender: Who's Job is it anyway? The Icons in Mass Media or You?

Gauntlett does a great job introducing the idea of queer theory. He introduces and defines gender not a fixed identity but rather as a performance an individual can identify with at various moments. With gender being a performance we think about the behavior as a way of individuals identifying their gender rather than automatically being categorized and expected to do stereotypical things to identify in one of the two genders due to physical characteristics. We see the automatic separation of what it means to be a man and a women and anybody that does not directly identify with male or female are outcasts. Gauntlett proposes to spread a variety of non-traditional images and ideas about how people should perform their gender with the help of the mass media. Insisting that, “shattering the unhelpful mounds of ‘male’ and ‘female’ roles which continue to apply constraints upon people’s ability to be expressive and emotionally literate beings.” will break such patterns of masculine and feminine formation.

This made me think of music’s contribution to the shattering of fixed identity of male and female and in this clip we see African America musicians stepping out of the fixed identities and performing their gender as they please. Nicki Minaj does help shatter the performance of a female rap hip-hop artist by being one of the very few females in the genre. On the contrary she also confines to this fixed identity of a feminine woman as seen through her very hyper sexualized appearance shown in her music video Super Bass. But in this clip we see Nicki Minaj before her signing with Young Money and the way she chose to perform her gender was more on a masculine side which is a big change from how she identifies herself now. Minaj’s identity is dependent on her audience and success she receives. As a local artist she expressed herself differently and now in the mass media she is forced to sell sex. Can the mass media really help break this fixed identity? Or is it up to the people?

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