Heavy Metal Music Gender Trends

Methodology

Every research project must have a clear method that defines the approach that is taken in the collection of any data, analysis of the collected data, and the presentation of the analyzed data in the form of the texts and figures.

According to Kothari (2005)1, conducting research is a complex process that requires a clear plan on how each stage should be addressed to obtain the expected success. Gender trend in heavy metal is a topic that has attracted a lot of attention of many researchers who have an interest in understanding its impacts on women and society in general. These scholars have used different methods to arrive at different conclusions about this topic.

The researcher understands that this study will be an additional body of language on this topic. It is important to ensure that this study does not become a duplicate of the previous studies because if that happens, then it will be of no use in this field of study. This research must be able to yield something new that the previous reports were not able to bring out.

It must identify some of the gaps in the literature that were discussed in chapter two of this report with the view of addressing them.

It must also determine some of the conflicts in the findings of the previous researches. In such cases, it would be necessary to identify the factors that lead to the conflicts and find a middle ground that would be acceptable to the two divides. To achieve this, the method chosen should be based on the clear principles that would guide every step of the research.

Research questions and hypotheses

According to Poole (2004)2, conducting research is a complex process that needs a clear guideline, especially when collecting data in the field. It is a fact that a researcher will always encounter massive information, most of which may not be relevant to the research topic.

When this occurs, it is possible that a researcher may be swayed into gathering irrelevant information as part of the data to be analyzed. This does not only waste the time of the researcher but also limits the quality of data; hence, the report will not be credible.

For this reason, it is always necessary to have research questions that would help in guiding the collection of data. The researcher will specifically focus on finding the answers to the specific questions. It means that any data that does not give a direct answer to the questions will be regarded as irrelevant to the research. The following are specific questions that should be answered from this analysis.

  1. What are the trends in heavy metal music?
  2. What are the impacts of heavy metal music in society?
  3. What are some of the conflicting myths, perceptions, and theories about heavy metal music in society?
  4. How has society reacted to the myths, perceptions, and theories about heavy metal music?

The above questions will form the basis of collecting data in this study. The research will be specifically focused on finding solutions to the above questions. In the previous chapter of the literature review, the researcher made a deliberate attempt to respond to some of these questions. The researcher developed the research hypotheses based on the above questions. The following are the working hypotheses for this research.

  1. Heavy metal music has been undergoing a gradual transformation over the years since its inception in the 1960s.
  2. Heavy metal music seeks to promote masculinity in society without necessarily demeaning femininity.
  3. There have been massive misconceptions in the society about heavy metal music.
  4. The society has had mixed reactions towards heavy metal music.

The researcher seeks to confirm the above hypotheses using the data collected from the field to develop a debate.

Data collection techniques

The process of collecting data can be very complex, especially when the researcher relies on both the primary and secondary data. According to Mouton (1990)3, the main problem in the data collection process is the fact that there are so many misleading data that it may be difficult to discern the truth from lies. Sometimes the misconceptions can be entrenched in the society that many may believe that it is the truth.

This is always very common in controversial topics such as the one in this research. Both primary and secondary sources of data will be seriously distorted, based on the view of the author of such information. In this research study, the researcher intends to collect data from both primary and secondary sources of information. However, care has been taken to ensure that the information is not influenced by the biases of some of the sources of information.

The primary data will be collected from the artists in this industry, the followers of this music genre, and the critics of this form of music. They will be sampled using the sampling strategy discussed below. In each of the three categories identified above, the researcher will be keen to identify any form of bias in their statements that may be misleading. The primary data will be collected through an interview using a simple questionnaire form.

The researcher will also use secondary sources of information, as shown in the previous section. The review of the works of other scholars was found to be important in providing preliminary information about this topic before setting to collect the primary data. The literature helps shed light on some of the questions in this research, as mentioned in the section above in this chapter.

Scope of data collection

According to Poole (2004)4, it is always necessary to define the scope of data collection before starting the process of collecting that particular data. Scope of data collection is always defined based on the geographic location where the data will be collected, the number of participants, the duration of data collection, and the type of data that will be collected. The primary data will be collected within the country by identifying the three groups of people, as mentioned in the section above.

The main reason why the primary data collection was restricted to within this country was mainly because of time and financial constraints. They limited the ability of the researcher to visit such locations as the United Kingdom where the music originated.

The number of participants will be restricted to about three individuals in each of the strata identified above. This means that the research will have a minimum of nine participants. The process of collecting both the primary and secondary data is expected to take three weeks.

Sampling and sample size

As mentioned previously, it was necessary to use the primary sources of data as a way of confirming the information that has been gathered from the field. The researcher realized that it would be important to interview some of the people who know about this topic to get their personal views.

This would help in confirming the findings obtained from the primary sources. However, Kothari (2005)5 Says that sometimes the population under investigation can be so large that it may not be realistic to interview everyone. For instance, heavy metal music is not limited to the United Kingdom and the United States, where it was developed.

Although it remained popular in these two countries, its popularity has spread to other countries around the world. It is no longer an exclusively American and Britain’s music. It means that when analyzing its effect, it may not be possible to interview everyone in various countries around the world.

For this reason, a sample will be selected to represent the entire population, which should give the true image of the represented population. This means that an appropriate sampling strategy will be necessary to develop a report that is inclusive of the affected population in its entirety.

Stratified sampling method was considered the most appropriate strategy for this research. This involves identifying the different groups with different views about the topic. The classification of the entire population into groups must be done with caution to ensure that in each group, there is homogeneity in their thinking and beliefs about the heavy metal music genre.

This means that in each group, the sentiments of one individual will be shared by other members without any serious contradiction. This will make it possible to assume that the sentiments made by an individual are shared across the members of the group.

After classifying the entire population into different strata, the researcher will use simple random sampling to identify individual participants who will participate in the study. This process must be conducted without any form of biases to avoid swaying the results in favor of one side of the argument.

The researcher settled on a sample size of between nine to eighteen participants taken from the three strata discussed above. Each stratum was given an equal number of participants. The researcher also did some form of sampling on the secondary sources of data based on the views of the authors about the topic. This was necessary to help in comparing different views with the aim of identifying any commonalities between different groups.

It is also important to note that most of the participants selected for this study were aged 60 to 65 years. This was necessary because, by the time this music was taking shape in the United States and the United Kingdom, these participants were in their teens.

The music has been very popular among teenagers. These individuals will be able to give the true image of how this genre of rock music was viewed in these early days when it was very popular in various countries around the world.

Data analysis

When all the relevant data has been collected from the field, the next task is to conduct a comprehensive analysis to find solutions to the research questions. It is necessary to identify the most appropriate method of analyzing the data to address the research questions adequately. In this study, the researcher used quantitative research methods to arrive at the desired conclusion.

Secondary data collected from various books, journal articles, and other relevant online sources were reviewed in chapter two of this research study. The following chapter will entail a detailed analysis and discussion of the primary data that was gathered from the field.

Data will be analyzed using simple mathematical methods that would help in presenting the information in the form of graphs, charts, and other relevant figures. This will make it easy for those who will be using this information to understand its contents.

Analysis and Discussion

The review of literature that was conducted in chapter two clearly shows that heavy metal music originated from the United Kingdom and later spread to the United States and other parts of the world.

From the primary data obtained from the participants in this research, heavy metal started in the late 1960s as a genre of rock music that was very popular in the United States and the United Kingdom. Although the participants agreed of the period within which heavy metal music started, there was a clear distinction about how they viewed this genre of rock music.

Just as Krenske and McKay (2000)6 Observe, the society received this music with mixed reactions. Most of the participants noted that the reason why this music generated different views from different people was that, at this time, it was difficult to draw a clear distinction between this form of music and rock music.

Rock music during this time was very popular with the youth, but not the adult members of the society. It was considered as a form of rebellion towards the strict rules and regulations of the parents, teachers, or other institutions where the youths were subjected to some form of regulations.

To the youth, this music was a way of calling for a rebellion against the established structures. It was a form of a liberation movement that would free the youth from the unnecessary regulations put in place to limit their freedom, and deny them their rights.

When heavy metal music was introduced, many viewed it as a more forceful approach of liberating the youth from the domineering rules of the adults. That is the reason why it took a masculine nature during this early period. The participants noted that most of the early artists emphasized the role of the male youths in promoting a society that was free from any form of oppressive rules.

The performance of the music was majorly done by men. This is in line with the information by McKay (2010)7, who says that for the first time in the history of music, women were finding themselves alienated from a particular genre of music (Cope, 2010)8. Some of the songs had lyrics that openly praised men and elevated their position above that of women in society.

Stage performances were mainly done by men, not only because of the lyrics that were in praise of them but also because of the sheer energy that was used during such performances. Some of the participants noted that this form of music involved some form of violence in its performance. The pie-chart below shows how different participants viewed this genre of music during the early days after its development.

Different Views of Participants about Heavy Metal Music

Different Views of Participants about Heavy Metal Music

As shown in the pie-chart above, the 18 participants had common views about rock music. Of the 18 participants, 17 were in agreement that heavy metal music was discriminative. It elevated the position of men beyond that of women. Some of them stated that in this genre of music, women had no position at all. 14 out of the 18 participants noted that this genre of rock music had some form of violence either in its lyrics, or the performance.

Half of the participants shared the view that this form of music was disorganized and constituted noise. They stated that the music was more of noise than good music that can attract the attention of people. It is only eight participants out of 18 that noted that this was cool music worth listening to, just like other forms of popular music.

The researcher was interested in knowing why most of the participants had negative perceptions about this form of music, through probing the participants to give further explanations about the factors that shaped their view about rock music. Most of the participants observed that at one time, they considered this form of music cool.

However, this perception changed as time went by, especially when they became parents because they developed a feeling that it was promoting lawlessness and rebellion in society. This made them change their perception of this form of music.

Gender trends in heavy metal music

The research was focused on determining the gender trends in heavy metal music since its inception in the 1960s. For this reason, the respondents were asked to give a brief explanation of their understanding of the origin of the heavy metal music, and some of the trends that have been taking place about the music over the years. The participants agreed that this form of music originated from the United Kingdom and the United States.

Their view about the origin of this form of music is shared by Hjelm and Kahn-Harris (2012)9 Who say that it started as a blend of both rock and blues. During this time, some of the respondents noted that country music, blues, and rock were popular among different groups of people. Heavy metal music was a concerted effort to blend blues and rock music into a form of music that had the lyrics of the blues, but with the beats of rock music.

The information from the secondary sources of data indicated that heavy metal music has been undergoing a systematic transformation over the years into a form of music that is completely different from other forms of music that defined its foundation (Purcell, 2003)10.

The respondents were in agreement that heavy metal music has been undergoing a transformation over the years. When asked whether or not this form of music was changing, they gave a unanimous response that indeed this genre of music was under transformation. However, there was a slight variation in how the participants viewed this change. The graph below shows the information gathered from the respondents.

Perception of the respondents towards the transformation of heavy metal music

Perception of the respondents towards the transformation of heavy metal music

The participants agreed on some issues regarding the transformation of heavy metal music since its inception in the late 1960s. All the 18 participants agreed that heavy metal music was undergoing some form of transformation since its inception. Some of the participants were of the view that this genre was becoming more accommodating to women. Ten of the participants shared this view.

However, 8 had a contrary opinion towards this issue. A section of the participants was becoming even more cynical towards the changes that have been taking place in this genre of music. Thirteen participants noted that heavy metal music was becoming louder and noisier than before following the changes made to make it become a distinct form of music.

The majority of the participants were in agreement with the fact that this genre of music was becoming more detached from blues and rock music. 16 of the 18 participants noted that this genre was slowly transforming into a unique form of music with its independent characteristics.

Only two of the participants noted that they had not observed any major changes that make heavy metal different from rock music. It was necessary to determine the view of the participants towards acceptability of the heavy metal in the current society based on the changes that have been taking place. Most of the respondents stated that heavy metal music is only popular among the youth.

The six participants who stated that heavy metal music has become acceptable in the society were majorly composed of the few youths who were also part of the participants. Some of them described the music as barbaric.

The information obtained from these respondents confirmed the arguments of Marino (2013)11 Who said that heavy metal remains a preserve of the youth. Most of the respondents, especially those who are fanatics or had once been fanatics of the music, noted that this form of music could only be enjoyed when it is played loud. This way, one can get the real impact of the music in a way that would evoke the desired emotions.

The respondent noted that this is one of the characteristics of this music that make adults abhor it. A parent would want a quite environment that is accommodative to all members of the family.

Soft music, preferably country music or blues, would be acceptable because one can easily ignore it in case of lack of interest. It does not entail noise, and for this reason, it forms perfect background music for many families. This is not the case when listening to rock music.

Conflicting perception about the impact of heavy metal music in the society

The review of the literature in chapter two of this research paper indicated that different people have different perceptions towards heavy metal and its impact on society. These perceptions have been defined by the different views that the society has towards this form of music (Walser, 1993)12.

The primary research that was collected from the participants indicated that the society is full of misconceptions about this form of music. One of the most common misconceptions about heavy metal music that was identified is that this music is demonic. When asked about this, most of the respondents stated that they believe, heavy metal is a form of devil worshiping in society. The graph below shows their exact views regarding this issue.

Do you believe that heavy metal is related to devil worshiping?

Do you believe that heavy metal is related to devil worshiping?

It was surprising that most of the respondents thought that heavy metal was in one way or the other associated with the devil worshiping or some form of demonic practices. The researcher probed the respondents further to get clear information on why they believed that this genre of music was demonic.

Most of the respondents cited the dressing code of the artists who have specialized in this music genre. Everything about their dress code points to the fact that they are possessed. With shaggy hair, shabby dresses, strange masks, and scary signs being common among these artists, a large sector of the society believe that this is a manifestation of the demonic forces (Wong, 1998)13.

The names they give to themselves make it even easier for the society to associate them with the devil worshiping. For instance, satanic themes are very common in this form of music, such as the hand gesture that was branded the devil horns. It is a kind of ritual that fanatics are supposed to demonstrate when enjoying the music (Purcell, 2003)14.

The violence in this genre of music during the performance only serves to emphasize the belief that the music is satanic. The names of some of the popular forms of this genre- such as the thrash metal, death metal, black metal, doom metal, and gothic metal- only strengthens the misconception that this form of music is exclusively focused on promoting Satanism in the society.

However, some of the fanatics of this music have strongly opposed these allegations, claiming that although some of the names or actions of the musicians may be strange, this is not a just enough to prove that they are devil worshipers.

Another misconception about this genre that has made it unpopular among a section of the members of the society is that the genre is specifically focused on challenging some acceptable structures in the society such as leadership, religion, law, and order.

The use of diabolism and blasphemy has generally been viewed as a direct attack on the established religions such as Christianity and Islam (West & Lay, 2000)15. The strong defiance towards authorities in most of the lyrics of these songs has been used by some of the rioting students when challenging some of the policies in the national government or at institutions of higher learning.

The changing number of female participants in heavy metal music

According to most of the participants, heavy metal is still a preserve for men in terms of the message in the music and the performance. However, the participants noted that there had been a consistent change in the number of female participants who get involved in this music in one way or the other.

There has been a consistent rise in the number of women who take part in the performance of this genre of music (Whiteley, 1997)16. Some of the teenage girls have also become fanatics of this form of music. The graph below shows the consistent rise in the number of female participants in heavy metal music.

Female Participants in Heavy Metal Music

Female Participants in Heavy Metal Music

The percentage of female participants has been on the rise since the late 1960s and early 1970s when this genre was introduced. However, a section of the society has criticized this argument, stating that this form of music is still not accommodative to the female members of society. The teenage girls who get involved in the music are forced to conform to its masculine nature to fit into the system.

Conclusion

Heavy metal is a genre of music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and it is believed to be a blend of blues and rock music. This genre of music became popular in the United States and the United Kingdom before spreading to other parts of the world. It gained popularity among the youth as they viewed it as liberation from the suppressive authorities in the society.

Some members of the society have associated this form of music with devil worshiping, the fact that has made it unpopular among the religious leaders and a large section of the society. Although this perception has been refuted by some of the fanatics of this music, some of the names they use, the message in the music, the dress code of the artists, and the style of performance only affirms this claim.

Several studies suggest that heavy metal culture promotes masculine identities and disregards feminine identities, the fact that is evident in its performance and lyrics. This culture has elevated the position of men in society, assuming the role that can be played by women to promote development.

However, the transformation of heavy metal that has been taking place over the years has seen an increased number of women attracted to this form of music.

References

Cope, A. L. (2010). Black Sabbath and the rise of heavy metal music. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate

Hjelm, T., & Kahn-Harris, K. (2012). Heavy metal as controversy and counterculture. Popular Music History, 6(1), 56-65.

Kothari, C. R. (2005). Research methodology: Methods & techniques. New Delhi: New Age International (P) Ltd.

Krenske, L., & McKay, J. (2000). Hard and Heavy: Gender and Power In A Heavy Metal Music Subculture. Gender, Place & Culture, 7(3), 287-304.

Marino, M. P. (2013). Metal Rules the Globe: Heavy Metal Music around the World. Popular Music and Society, 37(1), 106-108.

McKay, J. (2010). Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 7(3), 287-304.

Mouton, J. (1990). Basic concepts in the methodology of the social science. Pretoria: Hunan Sciences Research Council.

Poole, M. (2004). Research Methods in Human Resource Management. London: Chattered institute of Personell Management.

Purcell, N. (2003). The Passion and Politics of a Subculture: Death Metal. Journal of Popular Music Studies, 17(1), 175-189.

Walser, R. (1993). Running with the Devil power, gender, and madness in heavy metal music. Journal of the American Musicological Society, 51(1), 148-158.

West, R., & Lay, F. (2000). Subverting masculinity: hegemonic and alternative versions of masculinity in contemporary culture. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Whiteley, S. (1997). Sexing the groove: popular music and gender. London: Routledge.

Wong, D. (1998). Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music. Hanover: University Press of New England.

Footnotes

1 p. 45

2 p. 47

3 p. 56

4 p. 78

5 p. 29

6 p. 291

7 p. 288

8 p. 112

9 p. 176

10 p. 24

11 p. 107

12 p. 148

13 p. 71

14 p. 184

15 p. 82

16 p. 88