Teenage Girls and “Real‰” Music

Johanna Zenn

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As a teenager trying to separate myself from everyone else, I tried my hardest to let everyone know that I listened to “real‰” music, meaning that I wasn‰’t listening to top 40. I thought this made me the most different and special person on the planet. Alas, I‰’m definitely not the only person who‰’s ever went through this. I‰’m not invalidating my 13 year old self, nor any other young girl trying to find their individuality at such an awkward time of life. The problem is, when young girls try to find “real‰” music, they‰’re often only exposed to the male voice. From the Beatles, to Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, and countless others, the definition of “real‰” music is incredibly narrow, and leaves teenage girls in maze of people trying to control and invalidate their preferences at every turn. If a girl claims that she listens to the Beatles, who by the way started as a boy band marketed towards teenage girls, she is policed on her knowledge of their music. At the same time, if a girl doesn‰’t listen to these things, it‰’s completely okay to write her off as dumb and shallow. This whole conundrum is why I thoroughly believe that it is incredibly important that young girls are exposed to women artists as soon as possible.

Throughout middle school and high school, I didn‰’t listen to many female artists, simply because I wasn‰’t exposed to them in the same way I was exposed to male-dominated classic rock and alternative music. It wasn‰’t until after high school that I discovered how powerful and healing hearing the female perspective was. This is when I really started discovering how important it was to listen to voices that mirrored my own. Music like that of the Indigo Girls or Alanis Morrissette taught me how important self-expression and self-examination were, and led me to contemporary artists that continue to provide an amazing soundtrack for my daily life. I couldn‰’t live without the words of Julien Baker , MitskiFiona Apple, and countless others, who allow me to deeply connect with their words in a way I never thought possible. I wish 13 year old me had heard them, or at least embraced the female voice sooner. I hope that we allow more women into the canon of “real‰” music that serves as a gateway for many adolescents trying to find their own style, and I hope teenage girls can find songs that will guide them through a shaky time of life.

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