By Elliott Ingram
Something that is quite clear is the existence of a universal love of music. In any environment you may find yourself in, you are bound to be surrounded by people, who just like you, enjoy certain albums, songs, and artists. Whether you listen through the radio, streaming platforms, CDs, vinyl records, or even cassettes, everyone has a connection to the music industry. More commonly amongst younger generations, and evident in the UCC Community as well, the music industry can also be the cause of heated debates and the clashing of polarized opinions. Over time, a negative stigma has developed surrounding the behavior of shaming others for their personal musical tastes, especially when they diverge from popular opinions.
Unfortunately, many things in our society are “assigned” a gender. By this I mean, that certain hobbies, entertainment genres, and clothing are associated with a unique gender role. An interest in automobiles is considered a man’s hobby, journaling is for women, and suits and ties are attire for men. What also can be included in this list, is music, or specific artists. Mariah Carey is usually deemed ‘not masculine enough for a male to listen to without having to excuse themselves by explaining that it’s a “guilty pleasure” song. A social construct has been unconsciously developed that states that men and women should fit into two groups of music taste. What may seem on the surface as a trivial issue represents so much for how the small things sometimes go unnoticed in society.
Taking a step back and truly trying to understand the reasons behind why so many students our age oblige and contribute to this system can be related back to this idea of toxic masculinity with societal expectations. General examples or expectations in society of what young men listen to go beyond just some artists or songs, but rather genres as a whole. Music genres like rap and hip hop, the most popular around boys this age, have become the social expectation of what UCC boys would be listening to and is now being considered the status quo. However, female rap or pop music is generally outside of normality and could lead to this idea of shame by a toxic side of society. The gender roles don’t affect solely artists but can stretch onwards to genres.
This is not an article centered on the notion that we should not demonstrate interest towards the musical preferences of others, or that everyone should be listening to certain artists, but more a look at the context surrounding the behavior of shaming that engulfs members of our community who listen to music that is “different” then what the typical adolescent boy is expected to listen to. There’s a strong difference between having a difference of opinion and shaming those that have different tastes than you do.
This argument isn’t about the fact that someone’s feelings will be hurt by being called certain things, but more about the idea that society has continued to shame activities that are considered too feminine and not “manly” enough. In the grand scheme of things, music is just a string of notes with lyrics to accompany, something that’s not that challenging in relation to most problems in society, but yet those that contribute to this toxic side of society feels as if it’s ok to shame aspects of someone’s identity.
The responsibility of addressing such culture and working towards reform is not a sole task for the school, but as this is the space that students make such comments, spend the majority of their days, and ultimately mature and learn from one another, this conversation simply has to be had. UCC is the place where we are maturing and forming our own beliefs, and in reality, this is not just a UCC issue but rather one of society as a whole.
This starts with music but isn’t the whole issue. I encourage you to read further articles by fellow students on TBAW, and thank The Blue and White for this opportunity to share my personal thoughts on music becoming a new “weapon.”