tv Lectures in History 1960s 70s Popular Music and Feminism CSPAN August 17, 2019 8:00pm-9:16pm EDT
announcer: next, indiana university history professor michael mcgerr talked about women and feminism in 1960-1970's popular music. this class was from his course titled "rock, hip hop and revolution: popular music in the making of modern america, 1940 to the present." this program contains language and images that some viewers may find offensive. dr. mcgerr: good afternoon. here we go. hope you are doing well. this is almost too nice a day for education. i have a staggering number of powerpoint slides for this. get your bets down now on whether i can get through them or not. i'll omit my customary professor humor, about the ncaa tournament, for example. that's how serious this is. let's think for a minute, though, about where we're situated, what we're working on here. in this last third of the course that we started last week, we're dealing with the
post-revolutionary era. we've built this idea that something radicaand transformative happened to music in the 1960's. we've worked hard over the course of several weeks to establish those ideas. and we can't leave it, though, just as a kind of baby boomer nostalgia for the days that were. what we've been trying to deal with is this sense of pervasive disappointment, that the revolution somehow ended in the early 1970's. the popular music became a disappointment, aesthetically, politically. that's the cliche. we saw plenty of evidence for it. what we've been trying to do is to say ok. maybe if we shift perspective, maybe if we don't simply buy the assumptions that went into the age of countercultural music, if we do that, we may well see music engaged in a different way.
we've started out is by saying isn't it the case that popular music in the u.s. in the 1970's was doing what popular music typically had done well before the 1960's? which is to mediate relationships between men and women, to mediate notions of gender, to rethink sexuality. and that's where we started last time, with ideas about masculinity. and the way in which there's a radical transformation of ideas about masculinity tied up with the emergence of the gay liberation movement, bound up in music such as glam rock, david bowie, lou reed, bound up in disco. as we said, in a sense, that music was inherently political. something that the really vicious anti-disco campaign drove home. so it seems to me we've started building the idea that post-'60s, american music still is politicized, still is engaged but in a different way, a way that rejected, as we saw with david bowie or we saw with mott
the hoople, that rejected countercultural rock. that's where i want to go today in talking, as i promised, about issues of women in popular music in the 1970's. we've already dealt with this before in thinking about the very limited place accorded to women in popular music as a business, as performers really with the idea that women play instruments, that they could only sing. we've seen that's deeply embedded in western culture, western ideas. and yet this is a period in the 1970's of real change in thinking about women. so there's an opportunity for us to say just as there was this political agitation over gay rights and over the nature of masculinity, what can we do with the emergence of feminism, of new feminisms, liberal, radical and what musical implications did they have? so i want to do five things. as i said, you should get your bets down about me getting through this. but i will. i have not lost yet.
first of all, i want to think a little bit about the context. do you know this? it's familiar but let's remind ourselves of the way in which american society's relationship to women, notions of women changed so radically with the emergence of what was then called women's liberation. we want to use that as a backdrop for looking specifically at music, four different settings here, two, three, four, five. first of all, with the thing that's the most stunning and yet we're ready for this, the idea that, in fact, countercultural rock, acid rock, whatever you want to call it, was much less radical in terms of gender than we would have thought. that in fact, arguably it was quite conservative. it was in the terms of this famous essay i've given you to start our assignment that it was cock rock, that it was completely defined by the needs of masculinity and almost completely obliterated the place of women.
i want to look at the debates that emerged from that, the radical shift of perspective on rock. it didn't really change either, as you'll see, the business hardly altered. and that sets the other three music genres we want to talk about in a different perspective. disco, again, subject of much contempt, nonetheless had a larger space, arguably, for women and the articulation of their concerns. even though you'll see once again there's a tendency to try to make that disappear, to explain it away. and then stunning to me, but we've built on this, too, country music which is supposed to be so conservative, so anchored in older notions of family, as we've seen in talking about country music in the 1950s or merle haggard's music in the 1960's. it's country that has this surprising space to articulate a kind of conservative feminism or country feminism. and it's summed up in that piece that gives this lecture its title "your squaw is on the warpath," by loretta lynn, that
i want to work through with you. though i'm not going to sing it. [laughter] again, no costumes, no singing. that's my guarantee to you so we're never fully embarrassed. and then last i want to think about where a more open kind of feminist politics emerges in the '70s. it does to a degree in disco as we'll see, but the real place is in mainstream popular music which you could argue is the least adventurous kind of music in the 1970's. in musical terms, it's there that with helen reddy's hit "i am woman" that you have a stunning kind of breakthrough whose history is interesting and completes this picture of what is a very complicated response within music to the rise of the women's movement. and at the end i'm going to want to draw that together. but that's where i want to go here. and as i say, we'll start with what you know already but let's get a common point together from
which to work here which is the emergence of new ideas, new activism among women that would lead almost inevitably as i want to suggest to you to a new critique of popular music generally, and rock music in particular. all of women's liberation is not a preparation for journalism about rock music, but that's going to be the key linkage. you know this. and history of modern feminism is very complicated. you see that in those sources that i gave you, and i won't take time to work through them. but in very simple terms, we're talking about a couple of basic sets of ideas here. and we can flesh them out as we go along. you know this. the first wave that emerges in the late 1950's, early 1960's, the so-called liberal feminism. liberal in the sense that it's a middle-class movement focused on demands for equality both in the workplace, equal pay, for example, for women. equality in the workplace and
also the idea that women should have full representation politically, should have power politically, not just the vote. liberal feminism, too, because these are women who believe that activist liberalism of the kind that john f. kennedy and even more so president lyndon johnson embodied, that activist liberalism government intervention could create equality just as it was doing in response to the black freedom struggle. the most famous founding figure you know is betty friedan, author of "the feminine mystique," arguing how ideas of women's equality get embedded in american society. she's one of the key founders of the national organization for women (now). now there's a sense of the
urgency, now in 1966 that becomes the most important vehicle for liberal ideas. and one of the ultimate expressions of liberal feminism and one, of course, that would never be granted, an equal rights amendment to the constitution, the e.r.a. changing government to promote equality. almost as soon as that emerges -- and this is what makes it complicated -- you have slightly later in the 1960's what people very quickly called radical feminism. middle class mostly to be sure, but somewhat younger women with roots in the black freedom struggle, the push for civil rights and also campus activism, a good number of campus radicals. radical feminists shared many goals with liberal feminists. what's interesting are some of the emphases. an emphasis on both public life and private life. the slogan "the personal is the political" sums that up.
the idea that what happens in the intimate spaces of our lives, that that's political, too. as you can see from this course, that idea is one of the things that animates the idea that music matters. that music is political precisely because so often it is about intimate relationships that often weren't traditionally considered political. some of you in my '60s class have heard me talk about this in another setting. but radical feminism is one of the most important intellectual developments in the modern world. not simply for the arguments about power relationships between men and women, but by redefining what's important. classes like this exist not just because aging allegedly hip baby boomers like me want to relive our youths. that does seem very important to me. but also because of the intellectual terrain opened up by radical feminism. part of this focus on the personal includes issues about male violence, especially in the home, about women's control of
their own bodies, concerns about rape, forms of abuse, about abortion, which is, of course, a liberal concern, too. it's radical feminists who also played more, argued more about the nature of feminine identities themselves and wanted a broader range asserted along the lines of the gay liberation movement that we've talked about, including a celebration of lesbianism that's relatively absent in liberal feminism. radical feminism is especially important for us to -- for its focus on culture. much -- many radical feminists zeroed in particularly on the importance of words and culture categories, ideas like beauty. the way people, mostly men, could use words to put people in their place. words like "whore," for example. categories like beauty.
this is, of course, a famous moment. you've seen the pictures. this is the protest against the miss america beauty pageant in atlantic city, 1968 famous poster that parodies what you see in a butcher store where a piece of beef is sliced up so you know what the cuts are. here's a woman presented that way. welcome to the miss america cattle show, cattle auction. so the idea that women are sold in part through the world of beauty and, of course, preabs. that concern on culture immediately gets us because it makes it very likely that in turn, radical feminists would focus on music. that they could see music as one more cultural area, one more set of categories that could be used either to denigrate or to celebrate women. now, they don't monopolize everything. these are truly radical ideas that are disturbing to people on
a whole bunch of levels. so there's a substantial backlash. you know this already by the late 1960's into the early 1970's. there's an active anti-feminism, also middle class but culturally different. here's a big best-seller from 1973, marabel morgan's "the total woman." it's only when a woman surrenders her life to her husband, reveres and worships him and is willing to serve him that she becomes really beautiful to him. she becomes a priceless jewel, the glory of femininity, his queen. it produces a strong woman-led movement against the equal rights amendment to the constitution led almost paradoxically by an important conservative thinker, stop the
e.r.a. phyllis schlafly. you get the point. this is a very rocky terrain in which to think about music and the place of women in music. even arguably more than in response to the emergence of the gay rights movement. the first response is here. it's from those radical feminists who thinking over culture, thinking over words, thinking over the power of words to put people in their place. you know, in the same way, say, that the "n" word was a way of putting african-americans in their place. it's feminists who first come to terms with music. and what they criticize is not so much country music, which you might have expected. not even, say, disco, which you might have expected. it is mainstream rock 'n' roll. countercultural rock 'n' roll. the biggest icons of '60s rock 'n' roll. i want to take some time to work through these sources that i gave to you. there's three of them. we've got three radical feminist critiques. or almost radical, of countercultural rock as a form of male privilege.
that's obvious, and we want to work beyond it. in particular, i want to note a couple of points here. one, in line with what we've seen this sense of disappointment in the '70s, you've got these women saying we've misunderstood the '60s. we need to reinterpret the '60s and not see it as some revolutionary liberating moment but instead as a continuation of the kinds of power relations of male domination that we've had in the past. and that ties, in turn, to their subverting the whole idea that the '60s represented some kind of revolution. instead, it becomes a way station toward the revolution that still needs to happen. so there's a very powerful set of ideas here and some real differences among them. but the question of how much impact is something we're going to need to gauge. the first piece is this one from
susan hiwatt. it appears in 1970 in "rat" magazine. a feminist publication you can see here. you see women's liberation with the "rat" highlighted. it was anthologyized long after. she took the name susan hiwatt, which is a musical joke. it was a british company that produced amplifiers. the who used them, among others. so this is someone who's hiding her identity, but playing with already the rock 'n' roll world but more than playing it -- cock rock even now is a stunning title. for her, she describes it, the personal is the political. each one of these three pieces you see this personal journey that leads to a new set of ideas and a new set of attitudes. for susan hiwatt, it's this idea when she's growing up in school, in school, in college, rock 'n' roll was a generational thing for her. she saw it in those terms.
not in gendered terms, not in social class terms, but as part of dealing with the gulf between young and older. "it was the only thing we had of our own where the values weren't set up by the famous wise professors. it was the way not to have to get old and deadened in white america." so that's a common sentiment. we've heard that a bunch of times. but this is where she goes. "it took a whole -- it took me a whole lot of going to the fillmore," the auditorium we've talked about whose demise is part of this whole nostalgia for the disappearing '60s, "and listening to records and reading "rolling stone" before it even registered that what i was seeing and hearing was not all these different groups but all these different groups of men. and once i noticed that, it was hard not to be constantly noticing all the names on the albums, all the people doing sound and lights, all the voices on the radio, even the deejays between the songs, they were all men." powerful moment.
and to her in turn that leads to the obvious conclusion. that rock represents the massive exclusion of women. it keeps them out. because in the female 51% of woodstock nation that i belong to, there isn't any place to be creative in any way. it's a pretty exclusive world. she says, there are no women electric guitarists, there are no women drummers, there are no women leaders of big rock bands, nothing. there are women singers, but as she says, they have to be twice as good just to be acceptable. just to play this traditional role that women have fulfilled in music. it's strongly argued. but it rests in reality. it's the reality that we started to talk about in discussing girl groups back in the '60s. as she says, to become the top of the heap in black music, aretha franklin "soul sister number one," she says better by far than anybody else, and there are not that many others of them. in rock, janis joplin. and of course, what precipitates
this piece is the death of janis joplin, which we've mentioned before. and she sees joplin's demise as this sad acknowledgement of what music does to you. she says, joplin for audiences was an incredible sex object, a cunt with an out of sight voice easy to fuck and easy to dismiss when she's dead. that's what drives underneath this anger in the reality of the narrow space that women can occupy. as she says what you can do to be a woman is strum an acoustic guitar. nothing powerful, no high-watt amplifier, strum an acoustic guitar, be like joni mitchell,
folk musician over here, judy collins. but you can't electrify, you can't get out of line, you can't get out of the line the way janis joplin did. again, borne out. she says that people who play guitars, the people who get to use the power of electricity through high-watt amps, are men. male guitar gods like jimi hendrix -- also dead by this point -- jimmy page, do we really have to interpret this here? i didn't think so. again, as i said before, arguably the best female electric guitar player in the '70s is in the '60s is the bass player carol kay, who's a studio musician. nobody knows she even exists. she's on all of these hit records, no one knows who she is, no one even knows that a woman is playing bass on those records. that's susan hiwatt's point. deejays, i gave you the opening for this, deejays as we've seen have been a basic phenomenon mediating rock music from the '60s forward. and they're overwhelmingly men. the first almost sole famous woman deejay emerges just in this period in new york city on wnew fm, allison steele, known as the nightbird. there's her famous opening. "the flutter of wings, the shadow across the moon, the
sounds of night as the night bird spreads her wings and soars above the earth into another level of comprehension where we exist only to feel. come fly with me." she's on in e midd of the night. daytime, when lots of people listen, it's all men. that's susan hiwatt's point about the world of rock. women are invisible. but it's more than that. she argues rock is fundamentally nasty, it's misogynist. here's truly where the edge comes in again. you feel when it she talks about what happens to the janis joplin, the flip side of it is when she describes the underlying attitudes of men. men who sing songs, men who write the lyrics. because when you get to listening to male rock lyrics, the message to women is devastating. we are cunts, sometimes ridiculous, 20th century fox, sometimes mysterious, ruby tuesday, sometimes bitchy, get a job, sometimes just plain cunts -- not common language at the time. radical language opened up paradoxically by the counter culture.
here's susan hiwatt occupying this new space of language and blowing up words and the way they're used to put people down. all that sexual energy that seems to be in the essence of of rock is really energy that climaxes in fucking over women, a million different levels of woman-hating. again, after all the groovy celebration of rock music, the '60s, the spirit of woodstock, even the kind of despair over altamont, this represents a really stunning shift in perspective. really radical. she also finally makes a point. she says, women are excluded but they're necessary. they still do have a role to play in music. women are required at rock events to pay homage to the rock world. a world made up of thousands of men. homage paid by offering sexual accessibility, orgiastic applause, group worship, gang bangs at alta mont, women are there to be worshippers of men and provide them with what they
need. so drawing it all together, susan hiwatt ends with the really striking point. that revolutionary as the counter culture seems to be, as much as it represented a blowing up of old values, as much as it represented an attack on capitalism, as much as it rested on the idea that property should be communal, think of the diggers and their ideal of a free city in san francisco. the exception is women. and so women remain the last legitimate form of property that the brothers can share in a communal world. can't have a tribal gathering without music and dope and beautiful groovy chicks. for the musicians themselves, there is their own special property, groupies, which particularly enrages her. so you get the point. there is a powerful set of arguments. she's not alone. there's a whole proliferation of this line of thinking which is why i've given you a couple more examples.
the next one year later is from marian meade, a little older, a feminist, northwestern journalism graduate. she wrote a well-known book a year later called "bitching," a summary of women's conversations about men, still really interesting. it's very susan hiwattish but it's the "new york times" folks. no four-letter words, much more buttoned-down. but she drives home the same analysis with a couple of really interesting points. one of them, again, with this project of rethinking the '60s, changing our understanding, her jumping-off point is woodstock. she says, you know, it finally dawned on me, not at the concert, it dawned on me when i saw the film a couple of years later, she says, finally dawned on me that this is a fantasy land that welcomed only men. how about the women? barefooted, sometimes bare-breasted, they sprawled erotically in the grass, looked after their babies, dished up hot meals. and of course it is interesting to see again how women are portrayed at woodstock.
there's the admiration. that's michael lang again on his motorcycle, one of the two key organizers of the woodstock festival. look at him soaking it in there. nudity, though, it's interesting. most of it is shared nudity. meade's point seems kind of selective to me. what's not selective, the thing you see over and over, is women and babies. you look everywhere for signs of men taking care of children. and you don't see it. women's basic role is have sex, conceive, and then maybe some nudity there. but taking care of children. meade's point is really well taken. and you can see why it would sink in. the other thing that she does is really build on this idea that the '60s revolution wasn't real. just like woodstock is a fantasy land. she says, we were told that the '60s was about the reconfiguration of masculinity.
you've heard me talk about it. she's saying, nuh-uh, don't be fooled by unisex clothes, don't be fooled by long hair, don't be fooled by the beatles. nothing really changed. all those things she says are just hip camouflage for the same old sexism, the same set of power relations that existed before. style changed. culture may have changed. but underneath, power didn't. in fact, she says the '60s were worse than the '50s. here you see how this feminist critique blows up conventional rock history. instead of being a history of progress, musically, culturally, politically, from the '50s to the '60s, instead she says, look, earlier rock didn't at least treat women in such a nasty way, misogynist way, such a false way. women were passive sexual partners to be sure. but not that passive. bitchy emasculators, that's counter cultural music.
that's not the '50s, that's the '60s. the people who are most guilty of it are the biggest male heroes of the '60s. bob dylan, the beatles, the rolling stones. so all of it blown up, including this idea that rock is a history of progress. the last one is ellen willis. you've probably had enough. i'm getting looks. but work with me. because these ideas, those of you who had to do this assignment, analyzing these sources, you know what i'm talking about. these are a little more complicated. so it's worth being careful and laying the foundation. ellen willis, 1941. pioneering rock music critic. here's a woman at the center of rock culture, she was the rock critic of the "new yorker" magazine for a number of years. also a feminist activist. she was a member of two founding radical feminist groups.
the new york radical women, who helped organize that atlantic city protest against miss america, and then a follow-up group, the red stockings. willis was a creative and original thinker across a range of areas. she's really interesting for us because she liked rock music. there's much more struggle within the piece i gave you than there is in, say, cock rock or marian meade's piece. she is more positive. she says, before we succumb to another set of stereotypes in place of the old ones, she says, think about what rock did. insofar as the music expressed the revolt of black against white, working class against middle class, youth against parental domination and sexual puritanism, it spoke for both sexes. insofar as it pitted girls inchoate energies against all their conscious and unconscious frustrations it spoke implicitly for female liberation, implicitly, which is a big
concession. for all its limitations, rock was the best thing going. so her stance is different. she's not as ready to give up on what rock was. but, like meade, she believes it's gone wrong. she believes that it's gotten worse. there is an alarming difference between the naive sexism that disfigured rock before 1967 and the much more calculated, almost ideological sexism that has flourished since. what had been a music of oppression became in many respects a music of pseudo-liberation. so it is an attempt to fool people, fool women into believing they are living a kind of freedom, when in fact their circumstances are the same as before. also doeswillis another striking bring, given our interest to the degree to which rock music reflects outsider values, music on the periphery, the complete outside of power, african-americans, whites, working-class americans
in particular. mainstream rock in the middle 60's, counterculture rock, is middle-class music read it is the product of middle-class people, and not any middle-class people, but educated, middle-class elitists. she says men are contemptuous of women, yes. but these men, the elites of rock 'n' roll, they are contemptuous of everybody. they hate everybody. they looked down on everybody. aeir attitude toward women is part of that, a product of their class and educational position. and she says also, they use women as scapegoats. they don't want to admit that the middle-class culture they are rebelling against was a male product. men were in charge. they created that culture. how is it they blame women? so she says, the misogyny of
rock is based on class forces as well as these fundamental issues between men and women. canlast difference, and you see it rooted in her section of rock music, the belief that it somehow became progressive, she says in 1971, things are changing, things are going to change. she believes rock will open up to women, that the same kinds of expressive power it has had four men could be used for more politically-liberated reasons for women. says there are more female rock musicians, openly feminist ones. she notes the group joy of cooking, which is really a pond. you realize joy of cooking, the best-selling cookbook in history in the united states, everybody had joy of cooking. so there is that domestic image of women, but cooking in musical
terms, playing hard, playing fast, swinging, rocking. traditional that domestic city has crossed over into a male preserve, cooking with women, cooking with men in music. the leaders were to women, toni brown and terry garth white. she was an electric guitarist. so to hear it from willis' standpoint, here is a woman breaking into male-dominated rock on capitol records, one of the biggest record labels in the u.s.. and they made two more albums. so she says, things are changing. now, i wanted to give you the other side. the neatest piece is from this priest who writes to "the new york times" after he has read marion mead's piece, and he says, wait a minute. look, you are over rating the
rolling stones, they are not as important as you think, you are misinterpreting bob dylan by picking his most misogynist songs and ignoring the times when he has a more redemptive view of women, and he says you are misinterpreting the beatles, they are not so bad. and in an interesting point, he says you are contemptuous of eleanor rigby. her?re you rejecting if you are about sisterhood, why isn't the feminist critique of rock -- why is it the feminist critique of rock would condemn songs about female subjects? interesting, but not much of an answer to these powerful critiques. in the real answer is here, impact. these feminist critics achieve a lot on an intellectual level. they subvert the history of rock as rebellion. they force you to rethink what we mean by the revolutionary nature of the music, but in the
process there is a curious thing. this is a final exam question waiting to happen. there is something very similar about their condemnations of rock in the early 1970's to the condemnations of rock and roll the early 1950's, the idea that it is inherently corrupting music, that it turns people into degenerates or outcasts. although the terms are shifted here, again, here is the ideal that male rock turns you into bad people. it is rather curious that this radical set of ideas is so close to the conservative critique we had in the 1950's, something to think about. it as we will see in the weeks to come -- bought as we will see in the weeks to come, very little changed. for all the optimism of alan willis, women do not emerge as a
major force in rock 'n' roll in the 1970's, not really, especially not really when you compare to other genres, which is what i want to do the rest of the way. but on surprising to me, reflection it shouldn't be. the first area is disco. disco, which we have analyzed in terms of its relationship to latinose influence of discotheques, african-americans like van mccoy and the hussle who talked about it in terms of male sexuality and its relationship to the gay rights movement. come backresting to to countercultural rock and consider it in terms of gender. you have a much larger role of female performers in disco. .hey were known as disco divas
arguably the biggest star of disco, donna summer, born in boston, 1948, younger than the critics we have been discussing. donnad her name to let gaines, her married name. she was the lead singer for a psychedelic rock band and left it, and you would think for some of the same reasons that animate the anger of feminist critics. there is a varro there -- there is a very narrow space for her. she becomes the queen of disco, as she is built. her 1975 through hit, love to love you baby, there is the cover. she has numerate -- numerous hits into the 1980's, including hot stuff. another one is gloria gaynor, a year younger, born in new work, another african-american, had
the first really big hit disco album, never can say goodbye. we talked about the importance of dance. never can say goodbye the lp is famous for the first side, there are only three songs, not three minutes like traditional pop records, we are talking long songs, in clubs the djs would play the whole side of the album, so you're talking 19, 20 minutes of inter--- of uninterrupted dancing from three pieces featuring gloria gaynor. two years later, the big hit, i will survive. if you haven't heard it, we will not do this as a group number. the last one makes the point finally, grace jones, notice the jamaican, band, 1948,
and we talk about the importance of caribbean zen caribbean migrants to the united states in creating this culture. grace jones had a hit in 1975 with i need a man. here it is. there you go. she was billed as the queen of the gay discos. coous picture, notice the llar on the other guy. a famous sequence of photographs of her includes this one with the whip. there is another of her biting the whip. you get the point. a very popular figure. a lot of women, we could extend this list more and a far more visible presence of women in disco than in rock. this has given you another primary source, a piece by music critic from "the new york times" john rockwell, who says, why are there so many women in disco?
what is up with that, is his attitude. high, pipinga sound like the voice of women suits the silly, partying mood and bouncing us of many disco songs. in other words, unimportant music, unimportant people to sing it. he also says women singers suit the national mood of the national mood of sentimental escapism. he says, when the country doesn't want to deal with reality, it turns to the voices of women. it is astonishing. you get the drift that he is almost saying, women play such a big role in disco precisely because they are really so unimportant. so useless. his third act of dismissal focuses on the importance of gay culture within disco. without wishing to generalize about gay sensibility, the fact remains many women, especially
ones with exaggerated feminine characteristics or aggressive ones, have become cult figures for homosexuals. and a prime example, as you see, is grace jones. so there is a flip going on, where he is starting off with the idea, women are so important to disco. and you lurch your way through the article, and women gradually become less important and disappear. all, let's, after face it, men run the world of disco. men run the business of the music, they have the labels come they run production facilities, they control all of it. disco music is ultimately a producer's music, which means men's music, which means the exploitation of women to suit men's fantasies, be they homosexual or heterosexual.
so instead of seeing the emergence of gay liberation post-stonewall as a liberating thing, he is saying no, men are men. and of course, it is a puppet -like acting-out of a male fantasy of women as objects or as slightly grotesque figures of exaggerated lust and dominance. you are thinking, this is not good. it is really too simple. it's a very weird piece. it's smart, but it is this disappearing act, like a magic act. here is the rabbit, it is going to be gone. here are women, they are gone, they don't matter. it effectively erases all these very visible disco divas, summer, gaynor and jones, it is as if they have no identity of their own. and it is striking because of the intensity with which these women portrayed and embodied a particular identity. so john rockwell is light years
away from the anti-disco movement we talked about the other day, but he is engaged in the same enterprise of making it disappear, in this case for different reasons that have to do with women. also, it is too simple in the sense that he is making identity mean one thing or another thing, art serves one purpose or another, a song is this or that, which is striking because we have seen how, in the world of glam rock, for example, identity becomes this mercurial thing that shifts and takes new forms, just as david bowie would take on a new appearance from album to album and tour to tour. gloria gaynor's i will survive was simultaneously known as a gay anthem for gay man, but also as a feminist anthem. it at the same time spoke to men and women. weren't you the one that tried
to crush me with goodbye? do you think i would crumble, do you think i would lay down and die? oh, no, not i. i will survive. men and women could find a kind of community. the 1970's is in part about breaking down these iron barriers between categories. it is if rockwell wants to deny that and make it go away. it can only be gay music, only be men's music. point. the for women to occupy a visible, powerful space in music in the 1970's, just as before, was very difficult. almost close to impossible. and then you hit this truly strange thing, which is to say by now we have come to expect, that country music is different, that if you want to contrast to rock, it is different, if you want a contrast to the way power works, it is different. country music had lots of women butt, mostly singers,
weren't they conservative in politics? let's see. there's a paradox here, country conservatism. women star more singers. there were full-time, working women who balanced career with motherhood. made musicomen who the was personal, but message they conveyed about gender when they focused on women and women's identities like dolly parton, seems very conservative. you wonder why i've put maribel morgan and phyllis shall flee -- phyllis schlafly at the beginning of the lecter, this is why. this is reacting against change
not that simple. to really good cases for you. at, attachedwhen tammy wynette, born in mississippi in 1942, older than these disco divas. she did songs that, just the title, you go, really? you make me want to be a mother. some of you are grimacing. woman, your kind of which is sung to a man. and of course, don't liberate me, love me. maribel morgan is going, yes, this is great. she is singing, i was visited by a delegation of women, women liberationists who wanted me to change, wanted me to see you in a different way, she said i didn't want to do it, i know my job is to support you and care for you and you are reading this
ongoing, this is conservative, isn't it? and then at the end she suggests that you basically need all the help you can get. and that is when you realize something is going on in country that underneath the hairspray and apparent convention, something is going on. it reminds me a lot of patsy montana, the cowboy sweetheart of the 1930's, i want to be a cowboy sweetheart, i want to learn to rope and dried, you are thinking she wants to define herself in terms of a man and it turns out no, she wants to learn how to rope and dried and live an independent existence. country is complicated, tammy wynette is complicated. there is a kind of resistance for traditional women. it is not radical politics or pro-liberation, nothing at all. your good girl is going to go bad, it is a song that says, keep doing what you do and what
you are going to end up with is me copying you. your good girl is going to want to go bad. you want women to be like this? you think you really want me to be this way? drivinganswer is no, home the argument that what men really want is different from what they think they want than that they better behave. complicated. gor good girl is going to bad. and the ultimate one, stand by your man, number one billboard hit so big, big record. number 19 on the billboard hot 100. so again, the list that tracks sales across all kinds of popular music. huge hit. supposedly the ultimate in female submission. you know, boy, this is going to date me talk about age. , hillary clinton famously paints herself into a bad corner by saying that she's not going to be like tammy wynette and stand by her man.
says, of course, the most famous stand by her man-er in modern american history. you wonder if she knew the lyrics, which are really fascinating. i want to go through them with you. tammy wynette co-wrote this. billy cheryl. sometimes it's hard to be a woman, giving all your love to just one man. you'll have bad times and he'll have good times doing things that you don't understand. but if you love him, you will forgive him, even though he his art -- even though he is hard to understand and if you love him, , oh be proud of him. you're thinking, oh, god, really? you're going to put up with him doing what you don't understand? because after all, the most famous put-down, "he's just a man." it's a stunning song. so it's saying, ok, stand by your man, but not because you're so inferior to men. stand by him because he's just a man. that's how country music works. so it's weird.
tammy wynette said, i'm not a radical here, i'm not a women's liberationist. but over and over her songs are about pushing men toward a uniform standard of behavior and they're framed by this idea, not all marabelle morgan that men are so wonderful, but rather, that they are so pathetically limited that you've got to make the best of it that you can. and she's not alone. the other great example that gives us the title of this lecture is loretta lynn. again beautiful example of , a outsider's music, the way in which country music remained , deep into the 1960's and beyond, music of the white working class. she was billed as the coal-miner's daughter, born in kentucky in the 1930's in the depression, because that's what she was, her father was a coal miner. cultivated a very traditional image. here's an early publicity picture of her. she's canning. she's selling music by putting up preserves in ball jars. that's how far they go in packaging loretta lynn as conventional. she married in 1948. do the math.
pretty damn young. six children. so here's a woman defined by marriage and family. but as she says, because her husband urged her to do it -- not she herself -- her husband urged her, she becomes a singer, a full-time professional. someone with a career and who still has marriage and family life. she is enormously successful because she's talented but also , because she taps into the same vein that tammy wynette did. of taking what is seemingly a conservative world and a conservative stance and inside it saying, ok, i'm accepting these ground rules, but i will push for change within it. early example of this is, don't come home a-drinking with loving on your mind. number-one country hit for her in 1966. i was so excited i threw in another quotation mark, extra value for you. number one hit, we don't have to
do the lyric, you get the point from the title. here again, negotiation. you want to carry on, you want that much freedom? no sex for you. look how conventional the cover is. that does not scream women's liberation ala the 1960's. and yet the personal is the political. then you have your squaws on the warpath. what an album cover, by the way, again what an astonishing thing, front and back. here she in a whole series of squaw scenes. when you download this you're going to get a look at it. also the way they write about her. here she is taking on still more of an outsider identity. in racial terms, you can cringe. but she's actually doing the squaw thing, as you'll see, to do something fairly radical. very much in the performance of this, which i gave you, i'm not going to play it for you here today, the performance, she's standing there smiling. it's like merle haggard doing a kind of passive, ironic grin while performing "okie from
muskogee." you're going, this is safe, even bland, kind of dull. and then you listen to the words. and again, that's a reminder for us. country music as we've seen has been more word-centered than most of popular music. again, in an age when radical feminists are arguing, pay attention to words, it's country musicians like tammy wynette and loretta lynn and the songs they're writing that are playing around with words and categories in new ways. these words are just stunning. well, your pet name for me is squaw. when you come home a-drinking and can barely crawl and all , that loving on me won't make things right. you leave me at home to keep the teepee clean, six papooses to break and wean. remember, six children is exactly what she's got -- your squaw is on the war path tonight. so far nice novelty song, you , get the point now. he's using the native american language to reduce her,
supposedly to a greater level of subjugation. well, i found out a big brave chief the game you're hunting for ain't beef, get off my hunting grounds and get out of my sight. do i have to do it, hunting grounds for you? you're supposed to be hip, come on. this war dance i'm doing means i'm fighting mad, you need no more what was you've already had. in other words, you've committed adultery, which was a constant theme through these songs. your squaw is on the warpath tonight. all pretty good. and that she goes where, as far as i know, no popular song, certainly no number one hit in the u.s. had gone before. really just -- she's smiling. you saw it in the video i gave you. she smiles along and says, well, that firewater that you've been drinking makes you feel bigger, but chief, you're shrinking. [laughter] you're with me there? we could break up into small groups and discuss what that means.
[laughter] but i am going to trust you on this. makes you feel bigger, but chief, you're shrinking since you've been on that lovemaking diet. don't hand me that old peace pipe. come on, come work with me. don't hand me that old peace pipe, this ain't no pipe can settle this fight. your squaw is on the war path tonight. well, i found out a big brave chief, yeah, your squaw is on the warpath tonight. that is a stunning piece of work. and again, this is the way you push the envelope. she looks so conventional. she's dressed in this very sedate, middle-class, phyllis schlafly sort of way, smiling, strumming a guitar. and yet she just completely undid him. the world's first mainstream reference to shrinkage ever. [laughter] all conservative. two years later, by now with an enormous constituency of female fans, she does one of the first songs about birth control. the pill. look at the cover for the sense of this very kind of wistful
thing. all these years i've stayed at home while you had all your fun, and every year that's gone by another baby's come. again, her fan base knows, six children for her. there's going to be some changes made right here on nursery hill. and then in a really stunning image, you've set this chicken your last time because now i've , got the pill. and the song goes on kind of , angry. and again, the song that's saying, all right, i'm not going to walk out of this relationship but the balance of , power within it has to shift, has to change. nobody in american popular music, mainstream, major hits, was dealing with this set of issues as continuously as loretta lynn. and of course she's seen as conservative, dowdy, all the rest him by mainstream commentary. i couldn't even give you much discussion in primary sources of
loretta lynn because it's not , there. john rockwell doesn't even bother with that. it's those country people, what could they possibly know? now, of course, to add to all of this, naturally loretta lynn says feminist, women's liberation? absolutely not. in the piece i've given you, you see this, too. i'm not a big fan of the women's liberation. the women's liberation. but maybe it will help women stand up for the respect they're due. neat, very nice politician's remark. i'm not in favor of this, though it might be a good thing. that's how you do it. that's how you push the culture while seeming to be conservative. we've seen this before. the beatles, as we have said if , you smile and you're dressed in suits, you can get away with a lot. well, loretta lynn, same thing. so you get -- you know where i'm going with this. what we've seen is, then, astonishingly difficult, how astonishingly difficult it is for women to open up space within popular music to raise
the sets of issues that are raised by liberal and radical feminism in the 1960's and '70s. as i say, ironically but not really ironically, because we now understand the mechanism, ironically it's country music and disco that in certain ways advance women's issues more aggressively than rock ever did. and finally, to complete this, the most successful women's song, the most successful form of women's message music to go with the kinds of message songs we've seen, whether it's "eve of destruction" or "say it loud," "i'm black and i'm proud," merle haggard's "i'm proud to be an okie from muskogee." the most powerful message song comes not from rock but mainstream popular , music. helen reddy, "i am woman." i gave you her performing that song. that is very conventional pop music. it is not hard-edged at all. in fact, the critical response to that as music is pretty negative.
reddy, again, a bit older. born in 1941. australian. interesting case of rebellion. she came from a show business family. she hated that. her rebellion, as she said, was, i wanted to be a wife and a mother instead of a performer , like her parents. that's how she starts out. but eventually she realizes what she wants to do is to perform and that she wants to make it in , the u.s. where she arrives in , 1966, 25 years old she arrives , divorced, a single mother with a three-year-old child. so making -- balancing the things that loretta lynn was balancing, tammy wynette was balancing. she gradually made it as a singer. worked through a series of different styles. she remarries to a man who becomes her manager. they move to l.a. in 1971 she has a number of 13 billboard hot 100 hits so across all genres. i believe in music. but much as she's glad to have
succeeded, she's become involved in the women's liberation movement. as she says, i was part of a consciousness-raising group. a group of women who get so together to raise one another's consciences by talking about the realities of their lives as women, building a notion of sisterhood. and out of that experience reddy , said, i realized i wanted to do something musical about that. the result of this reflection beginning in 1971 is "i am woman." and she says, you know, at first i didn't think of writing a song. i would have performed somebody else's song. i wasn't confident in myself yet as a songwriter. and she says, when i looked around i found only "total , doormat songs" for women, that in pop music that's all you find, that there's not really anything there that expresses what she wants. so, she writes her own statement instead. nate -- neat history.
."e writes "i am woman it.o stations won't play and we have seen in the system of popular music, the business of popular music, you needed radio play, you needed airplay to get people to buy the record. radio stations think it is awful. remember completely , a male-dominated world. not just awful. they think it is sickening, this song, just sickening. so reddy comes up with an interesting idea, to grassroots build this record. what they do is go around to afternoon talkshows in different cities in the u.s., where there were talkshows for stay-at-home women. talk shows -- it is out of this world that, say, oprah winfrey's show would grow. here's reddy with one of the most famous ones, a show in philadelphia, "mike douglas." a smooth, pleasant man. and reddy would go on these shows, talk about her life, talk a bit about what led to the song, she'd perform it, and what
she had hoped would happen happened. that women viewers would hear this and then phone the radio stations and say, why aren't you playing this song? i heard this incredible record, play it. well, the volume of calls is enough that gradually "i am woman" gets attention and it gets played and it takes off. the lyric just like "your squaw is on the warpath." it is interesting. it's worth taking it apart. because it's a very subtle song, actually. it does a couple of very and interesting things. "i am woman, hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore and i know too much to go back and pretend before i've heard it all and i've been down there on the floor no one is ever going to keep me down again, a reference to violence against women. i have been down there on the floor, no one is ever going to keep me down again.
so it starts off with this issue, yes i am wise, but it is wisdom from pain, yes, i paid the price, but look out much i gained i am strong i am invincible i am woman come back even stronger, not a novice any longer because you deepen the conviction in my soul. really fascinating. so she started with this subtle image of the sexes and implicitly a heterosexual relationship between sexes, i am woman watch me grow see me standing toe to toque, so growth being confrontational. as i spread my loving arms across the land. so woman is love, nurturing, growing. but i am still an embryo, with a long long way to go, until i make my brother understand. so a song that begins implicitly
with a male as a romantic opposite end a perpetrator of violence will end with the idea that a relationship between men and women is that of sister and brother, so not necessarily sexual. it is a complicated song, whether you like the limes or the background, which is an interesting stylistic mix of pop music, the guitar backing is interesting, but what is going on elite illogically -- going on ideologically is striking, this notion of pride and that pain is translated into strength, and again, that violence is an issue and that ultimately, the relationship between men and women needs to be understand -- to be understood differently. that is what pop music does, that is a conventional thing, but this is a less conventional form of that message. the male reaction was striking. helen reddy was beneath contempt, the purveyor of all in
the women's movement. boom. done. a music writer in cleveland, on the eve of helen reddy turning up to perform in cleveland, he writes, as an admitted male chauvinist pig in the water to areas in which my wife has not beaten me into submission, i must admit that the distaff labor's anthem of sorts would normally raise my hackles. reddy sings it so well that her modicum of breast-beating, or should i call it chest-beating, for the cause on the one song is fair enough. i won't puke, just this once, that is the reaction. helen reddy was used to it and she said, for a lot of men, thinking about the women's movement makes them grab their groins. i didn't say they were going to cut their -- we were going to
cut their dicks off or anything. and now a commercial from dove soap. pictures ofind many helen reddy like this where she is looking at you going, i owe yeah? but that is underneath all of yeah?- oh but that is underneath all of this. billboard top 100 hit. here is a song radio would not play, many men considered sickening,but being and in spite of all of that, a number one hit in the united states. the following year she wins the grammy for best female vocal performance and it is another fabulous, controversial moment she gets up and she says, i want to thank god because she makes everything possible. she gets a ton of letters and she says one of her favorite
ones begins, you skinny, blasphemous bitch. abbreviated, usbb. and radical feminism argues that notion of beauty is used to discipline women, so to be skinny here is clearly to be somehow unfeminine as part of being a bitch. the history of this song is stunning. there she is accepting it, her husband behind her, you skinny, blasphemous bitch. she goes from there. the u.n. has international whichs year in 1975, settled all issues about women's equality. they also have a symbol and a theme song, which is "i am woman."
the song becomes international. the reaction by now is not so much men going, my wife likes it, a number of feminist activists do not think she is radical enough. more going to give you one source, but ellen willis writes a review of helen reddy's work for "the new yorker." it is this convoluted thing saying, i don't really like the music but her values are the right values, but i don't like it and i cap really quite explain why i don't like it, and you are on page three of this going, ellen, just say it, but what is striking is it gets us to questions we have dealt with all along, how music can be politically effective. a pieceman" is much of with kinds of music we have dealt with before. there are no policy
prescriptions. verse two isn't about the equal rights amendment. there is nothing about that, nothing technical there at all. it is common denominator music, not a put down, which we have seen. working on collective identity, and a sense of pride, we have seen this before. that is what is revolutionary about rock music and country in thend aspects of soul 1960's, this avocation of pride, saying this is what unites us. and this is striking because even though it is by a woman and seems subjective, it is a collective song. it is about the group pride of women. it is a very familiar kind of music. it has driven message music across several genres. we have seen repeatedly that is the -- that it is the political
act of outsiders, that rebellion begins with a sense of pride, taking a put down and turning around and sang, it is a basis for my strength, i have been put down before, and that pride in myself in turn is what begins to unite us collectively. say it loud, i am black and i am proud, as james brown puts it. merle haggard does it, james brown does it, all you need is love, the beatles song for that first global television broadcasting 1967 functions as the same kind of lowest common denominator value, drawing together a group of people. what helen reddy does is very old in one sense and quite butentional in many ways, what is different is it is done in the service of politicizing women. ray's reaction is to say, --
helen reddy's reaction is, i don't do women's live music all the time, i do lots of other things, like bob dylan she doesn't want to be imprisoned in one identity and no she doesn't have to do it all the time. i will let you do this just once, she knows to do it just once is to do a great deal, it is to begin to change things. so that draws us together to this point. if we are trying to build an argument about post-revolutionary popular music, that after the suppose it we end upk, the place looking is not in rock itself, it is among people who fromiously pulled away mainstream, countercultural rock and roll, the counterculture had become mainstream, and instead it was farmed to new kinds of
people who responded to the ways in which the status of gay men has risen, the status of women, lesbian, heterosexual, have emerged, and they respond using these musical tools we have seen emerge in the 1960's, rejecting the politics of 1960's music in many ways, but appropriating the kinds of tools, weapons, the cultural musical weapons that had been forged in this musical culture they were rejecting. you get the paradox there. very, very effective. we third element in this, have already seen this time represents an intensified sense of economic decline. we have seen that in the music of merle haggard, working-class centered music which was already registering, what the industrial revolution would mean, what flation would mean, the
strange, slowing down of the u.s. economy, including hyperinflation. we have lived with these developing notions and sexual identities that we have discussed, so the next pathway i with theake has to do economy, transformation of capitalism, limiting of opportunities that once seemed so limitless that you could dream of a free city entry music entry rock 'n' roll, but if there is a u.s. that can no longer afford to have everything be free, that is what i want to do next. and we will see how that builds it opposes earlier rock culture. and with that, we are done. enjoy the day. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] history lectures in
every weekend on american history tv. we take you inside college classrooms to learn about topics ranging from the american revolution to 9/11. saturday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern on c-span3. tonight on american history tv at 10:00 p.m. eastern on "reel america," the 1970 film, communists on campus. >> their ideology proclaims the violent overthrow of the democratic system. and yet our nation seems even unconcerned. >> sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. eastern on oral histories, woodstock's creator details the festival. iti said, if we took outside, suppose we had jimi hendrix and janis joplin, how many people would come? and he said 15,000. and my wife said there will be
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>> a texas high school teacher gives discussion on food rationing, farmer shortages on the home front. friends of the world war ii memorial hosted the talk is part of their annual's teacher's conference. >> i am pleased to welcome karen to give her presentation. the first one was national instead of local. we are excited to have her back.