Masculine Pleasure? Women's Encounters with Hard Rock and Metal Music

Rosemary Lucy Hill

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The broad genre of hard rock and metal is often described as maledominated (Walser, 1993) and ‘masculine’ (Weinstein, 2000, p. 106; Bayton, 1998, p. 40). The former is not difficult to critique, as the line-up of any hard rock or metal festival or a glance through any of the genre’s magazines will show (Brown, forthcoming). The latter, however, is not so straightforward, even though there is well-known academic work that highlights the misogyny and exclusionary musical and non-musical practices. Such common sense and academic ideas about the music bring forth questions about why women would enjoy it; yet it is clear that some do. A number of influential studies have engaged with the question of women’s pleasure in popular culture, even when it has been thought to be damaging for them, in many cases reinforcing a destructive ideal of femininity (see for example Radway, 1984; Ang, 1985; Geraghty, 1991; Stacey, 1994; Skeggs, 1997). These authors show that the pleasures women experience are complicated for a variety of reasons and that textual readings produce a multiplicity of meanings. These include resistant readings that allow texts to be reconceived so that messages that women find difficult to identify with become more palatable and even enjoyable (Fetterley, 1978). In this chapter I discuss women’s ‘readings’ of hard rock and metal via critical discourse analysis of what the British women fans I spoke to during my doctoral research said about the music of the genre and their favorite bands. From their responses, it is clear that the genre has much more to offer listeners than simple expressions or celebrations of masculinity: the music has more nuanced meanings than that, and I argue that the women’s descriptions mount a challenge to that perceived masculinity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Metal Music and Culture
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Directions in Metal Studies
EditorsAndy R. Brown, Karl Spracklen, Keith Kahn-Harris, Niall Scott
Place of PublicationAbingdon & New York
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781317587248, 9781315742816
ISBN (Print)9781138822382, 9781138062597
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Popular Music


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