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Musicians Who Defied Gender Norms

We are incredibly lucky to have the internet. I don’t feel the need to discuss all of the reasons why but there is one specific reason I want to discuss about why having the internet is great for us. The internet allows creators to share what they create without having to sell themselves to a third party to distribute their work like a record label. There are still the challenges of gaining a following but this is the first time in history where one could share art and have a potentially endless amount of people see it instantaneously without jumping through hoops. This has led to massive changes in the music industry and I think it will continue to do so. Here’s why.

As every movie and tv show about the music industry has told me, in the past to be a music star or even get a record deal, you had to have an image. You had to change who you were to fit the standards of pop culture but still be unique enough for people to notice you. You had to look and act a certain way for your music to matter. Because of these standards that people had to fit, the majority of the music industry looked very similar. These similarities took place both in the genres present and in the images of musicians. However, there have been some musicians who have defied the standard of gender norms throughout history despite the challenges in the music industry. We also have had many more genres pop up due to artists being able to release their own music which again is a positive thing.

Iconic musicians like Freddie Mercury, Elton John, David Bowie, and Prince have defied gender norms and paved the way for contemporary musicians to express themselves freely. These artists faced challenges in expressing themselves as they wanted to as well as in releasing the music that they wanted to in a world that was still glaringly homophobic. However, they were ultimately celebrated for being themselves and adored by their audiences.

Some of my personal favorite contemporary musicians who are defying gender norms are Janelle Monáe, Matty Healy, P!nk, Brendon Urie, Bad Bunny, Max, Harry Styles, Declan McKenna, and Will Joseph Cook and I invite you to support their work (though I’m sure many of you already have). It’s incredibly beneficial to viewers to see people expressing themselves as it invites others to do the same and helps people feel valid in their identity.

We still face challenges regarding sexism and homophobia in the music industry much like in every other industry but getting a record deal no longer needs to be one of those problems. With the internet, artists can now release whatever music they want and look however they choose in music videos and other media. For that reason, I think we will continue to see increasing amounts of people defying gender and other norms in the music industry which is a fantastic thing. Issues still exist such as social media sites like Tik Tok censoring LGBTQ+ content for ‘violating community guidelines’ but I am hopeful that we are heading in the right direction.

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