Face the Music: The History of Women’s Music within Cultural and Intersectional Feminism

Megan Conklin head shot

Name: Megan Conklin
Major: History
Minor: Education
Advisor: Jordan Biro Walters

Critical Digital Engagement Award Research Supported by the Copeland Fund

This project explores the history of women’s music, the name given to the genre that women of the 1970s, generally referred to as the “second wave” of feminism, performed. It was “by women, for women, about women, and financially controlled by women.”[1] The project first traces women’s music’s roots to women of color musicians in the 1920s and 1950s, then through its height in the Golden Age of the 1970s and 80s, and lastly explores its successors in the 1990s and 2000s. Examining women’s music’s connection to both cultural and intersectional feminism, this thesis argues that women’s music served as an example of early intersectional feminism and offered women of typically marginalized groups—lesbians and black feminists—a platform to express themselves. Through the Women’s Music Movement, women achieved a path to the mainstream music industry and have shown their value to the industry.

My interest in this topic grew out of my life-long love of music. With an interest in American cultural history and social movements, I looked to combine my love for music and my interest in feminist history which culminated in this project. Women’s history is underrepresented across the board, and the topic of women’s music has received attention from few scholars. I constructed a website that aims to share my research with a broader audience.

[1] Lont, Cynthia M. “Women’s Music: No Longer a Small Private Party.” In Rockin’ the Boat: Mass Music and Mass Movements, edited by Reebee Garofalo. South End Press, 1992.

View Megan’s I.S. Research Website

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 14, 2023.

One response to “Face the Music: The History of Women’s Music within Cultural and Intersectional Feminism”

  1. Mark Graham says:

    Hi Megan — This is really interesting work. It’s great to see it completed here and to learn more from your research. I recall you telling me a bit about this when you were beginning the IS process (or before). Thank you for doing the work and for sharing it here!

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