In her article “Men Making a Scene,” Sara Cohen analyzes the performance of masculinity in the Liverpool rock scene. The scene is often characterized by an antagonism towards women as threats to an established culture, lust towards women as objects of sexual desire, and disrespect towards women as token musical commodities. Cohen gives a few examples of women in music, most notably the female lead singer of Space, as well as the women who are employed as music journalists. The latter example seemed indicative of the greater plight of the woman who years to be involved in the music industry – only welcome in ways that celebrate the boys in the game but stay completely out of the game itself. Unsurprisingly, however, the scene has generated a social landscape that not only discourages women from participating, but also completely eliminates their desire to.
After reading the article, I began to question whether the machismo of the rock scene described in Liverpool at the time is genre-specific, time-specific, or a combination. Cohen writes that even within the explored scene, there are varying classes of masculinity, describing “a masculinity that is rather soft, vulnerable and less macho, aggressive and assertive . . . suggesting a fragile masculinity” (Cohen 29). If a strong assertion of masculinity is integral to the Liverpool rock scene discussed in “Men Making a Scene,” then does a subdued masculinity (displayed by bands like Cast, Space, and the Lightning Seeds) represent a departure from the genre, or simply exemplify another performative aspect of the genre?
Another comparison we can draw is to the archetypical lead singer of a current indie-rock band. (Usually) He is a thin, shabby-looking male who almost looks almost boyish. The emphasis is not placed on a display of chauvinism, but almost an emasculated showing of emotion and vulnerability. I would also argue that in musical subcultures that celebrate such characters are more welcoming for female participants in all senses. Is the comparison between this type of singer and the typical “macho” singer in Liverpool one that already existed within the scene described in the article, is the typical Liverpool singer one indicative of the greater rock world, is it genre specific (indie-rock as opposed to rock), or has the role of gender in rock really evolved over the last fifteen years?