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Part Two: the music industry
Following on from Part One in this blog series about men and society…
The music industry became more prominent in the second half of the last century. Technology allowed people to communicate more freely across the world, and the path from then to the society we have now has been music-driven, TV-driven, movie-driven, and now mobile phone and internet-driven.
The capability of music to influence and emotionally empower people is underrated. From the 1950s, single records could now be sold, and most people were still listening to radios. Add the now easy communication across the world, and Rock and Roll was an inevitable yet short-lived pathway for the sexual emancipation of women.
1950s men and society
The world is in a constant state of change, and the 1950s was no different, maybe more so than others.
It had started before Elvis Presley, but it was he that popularized it, his swinging hips and curled lip bringing a fever to a now unrepressed screaming horde of women, not only liberated in law, but in attitude.
And so began the real sexual revolution. Girls, women, were starting to loosen their inhibitions, and felt free to express desire in a more open way than before. Most people say it was the 1960s when women started to feel more liberated sexually. In my opinion, the 1960s was an after-effect from the impact of Rock and Roll.
1960s men and society
It is impossible to talk about music and the 1960s and not mention The Beatles.
They had learnt their trade via Rock and Roll, and their musical style reflected that, but as Rock and Roll petered out, and musical culture went in a new direction, then so did The Beatles, and their song All You Need is Love became the anthem for the new Flower Power generation of the late 60s and early 70s.
If there was ever a period of transition from male-dominated society to a female-dominated one, then this was it, though saying that, I have spoken to a lot of people who grew up in that era, and none of them remember being part of it. The saying goes, ‘if you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there’, but it seems it bypassed a lot of people completely, especially in the north of England.
Men and flowers? Come on. Flowers are for apologies and deaths, not to stick in your hair, so why did men do it? Obviously, to get in with the women, and when you look at this reason, it has been the main cause of men’s emasculation since then.
Women may have been free to do what they wanted, but men still had to please them to get what they wanted, so men had to supplicate, in the way that women used to. So the men placed flowers in their hair, grew their hair long, wore tie-dyed T-shirts, and handed control of the world over to the women.
Peace and love?
1970s men and society
What a contrasting decade, again driven my music.
It was like the fight was on during this decade, maybe caused by men’s retaliation to Flower Power, and women eventually won, and have been winning ever since.
Hippy music turned into glam rock, as much a gender-confusing musical movement as the 1980s’ New Wave. One begat the other, with a male reaction of Punk Rock in between, and, as is the point of this series of posts, men always lose out when it comes to saying what they think. Anything men say or do now is swamped in a swathe of (female-influenced) political correctness, and the battle of the sexes in the 1970s is where it started.
And by the end of the decade, the battle of the sexes wasn’t confined to just men and women any more.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I am not homophobic. I believe that homosexuality is nature, not nurture, and the fight for homosexual liberation was worse than that of women’s. Homosexuality is not new (there are examples of it throughout history), and their liberation was brought about by women’s dominant place in society.
But (and yes, I am going to say this) if I happen to see two men having sex with each other, I look away. You can try and say to me as much as you like that it is natural, and as I have just said, I agree, but seeing it?
I don’t like to. Two women? Yes. Two men? No.
I am well aware of the argument coming my way: not being able to watch that is a sign of my sexual insecurity – a real man, secure in his sexuality, would not care if he saw two men having sex. Want to guess which gender came up with that one?
I cannot stop my instincts – nobody can.
So, does this make me homophobic? No – I am on their side when it comes to them being the natural way they are. Does it make me a bigot? Maybe, but maybe that is just because I am a man, and am not allowed to write what I have just written. And there will be men and women reading this that will say I am homophobic and a bigot, and possibly sexist (I don’t know how that particular one works). For the women, maybe that is a natural reaction, but for the men? They think the same as me, but are not allowed to say so.
Because they want to keep the women happy.
That is what it is to be in a female-dominated society.
And, to be manly in the 1970s, you had a moustache, and the gay scene even took that away, along with YMCA and I Will Survive, songs which I really like. When I was growing up in Newcastle in the 1970s and 80s, these were songs we weren’t allowed to sing along or dance to for fear of being ‘labelled’, but now when I am out in Newcastle with friends, and one of those songs comes on, we sing along every time, like we’re accepting them as songs, and not ‘gay’ songs.
1980s men and society
The 1980s was still a difficult time for men to come out of the closet, and in some places it is just as difficult today. George Michael was afraid to do it for fear of upsetting his millions of female fans (and he wasn’t helped by the taunting of not-afraid-to-be-open-about-it Boy George), until he was outed by accident. Freddie Mercury had embraced his homosexuality (he named his band Queen), and David Bowie’s androgynous alter-ego had encouraged the gay scene acceptability.
There are many others, and as with all modern movements, once the celebrities had shown something to be okay, it filtered down to the masses.
In the face of this and the already female-dominant society we had, straight men had no chance. There was no choice but to embrace the way society had headed; political correctness, Health and Safety, and all. Society had changed from the selfish ways of men to the all-embracing, look after everybody, let people be what they are, ways of women.
It is up to you whether you think this is a good thing – it depends how you see it. I happen to think that generally we live in a good and accepting society, and am giving women credit for that, but there are some (mainly men) who think that political correctness has gone too far, and I can certainly see their point of view. When I see stories like schools telling boys they can dress like girls if they want, or boys shouldn’t contact when playing rugby (that one is from Newcastle University as well – I am not proud of that) then the man in me is outraged, but when I see gay men having dinner together on First Dates, I think, ‘yes, why shouldn’t they?’.
People are and should be allowed to be who they are, but this should apply to men as well.
1990s men and society
The manufactured pop of Stock, Aitken and Waterman thankfully didn’t last long, and the start of the 1990s brought techno, raves and Indie music. Unlike the decades before, this was no backlash or retaliation from men – everybody enjoyed it – but then, as if women needed to remind us of their domination, or possibly a reaffirmation of that domination, came Girl Power.
I liked the Spice Girls. They made some great songs, and looked great too (if you don’t like the second part of that comment, then I think you may know by now that I don’t care), and certainly were the frontrunners of a coming wave of new female singer-songwriters, a wave which is still rippling.
But, in my opinion, women didn’t need this resurgence. They were already the dominant influence in society, and still are. In fact, now, it is difficult to see how men could ever be dominant again (actually, I do have a suggestion, but it’s at the end of Part Three).
A quick piece about vegetarianism. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but vegetarianism has grown in popularity since the 1970s. Of course it was around way before then, but not in the way it is now. I wonder why this is? Could it be, again, the female-dominated society we have lived in since then? There will be exceptions to this, but every woman I speak to wanted to be a vet, or work with animals, when they were kids. Women like animals; they love animals. It is they that have humanized them, and it is they that have grown the vegetarian industry.
And I wonder if it’s also a subliminal buck against the male hunter-gatherer mentality, a kind of ‘we don’t need you to provide our food anymore – just provide the sperm we need for the kids we want, so we can tell the kids they can dress in a cross-gender way if they want’.
Personally, I am no great lover of animals, except on plates (this also puzzles me – who decided that pigs and cows are to be eaten, and cats and dogs are to be pets? It’s the rabbits that get the most confused – they can be both), though I do understand that people do like them. It is comments like ‘I am no lover of animals’ that seem to get under others’ skin, as if you’re just not allowed to say it. ANIMALS ARE NOT HUMANS. They are not going to be offended.
That was a diversion, but a necessary one, and I need to wrap up for this week:
The 1990s had also introduced two technologies to the common arena which would further cement female domination in the world; mobile phones and the internet.
They’re in Part Three.
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