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2023 has been the year of “girl” with bows and ballet flats coming back into style, Sofia “female gaze” Coppola’s comeback with Priscilla, even our way of late-night meals and mathematics is getting recognition.

Currently, our Queen Teenage Girl Olivia Rodrigo released her highly anticipated sophomore album ‘GUTS’ at the brink of autumn and it perfectly encapsulates the pressures of early adulthood.

‘GUTS’ features lots of sarcasm, angst, intense feelings about relationships and societal pressures with a nostalgic rock sound. Lots of backlash was directed towards her rock songs and how she’s “plagiarizing again” as well as stealing a sound that isn’t hers. This is very common for women who make rock music, more annoyingly common than we remember.

Rock Influences

Rock music has always been about expressing feelings of anger, betrayal, rebellion and such. The difference is that it was mostly men. Around the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the emergence of female-centered rock bands started to rise, and with that, the misogyny did as well.

Rock became “uncool” when young women became interested and told their stories of outrage because the most uncool thing you can be is a teenage girl.

In the ‘90s, rockers like Bikini Kill and The Cranberries weren’t taken seriously within the genre and were put into pop categories instead of the varieties within rock like alternative, indie and even pop rock. By the 2000s, we had No Doubt, Paramore and Avril Lavigne who were called posers for their more “pop” influenced music (which is contradictory because the pop genre literally stands for popular and nothing specific).

Women in Rock

All of these restrictions about being a woman who’s interested in rock and expectations about what being a woman looks like and acts like just make me want to scream!

all-american bitch tells the tale of an adult-teenage girl who is overwhelmed by the pressures of being a woman. Rodrigo starts by talking about how she’s all these aesthetic stereotypes regarding being a girl; being bright, bubbly and not like other girls as well as how she’s everything she is told to be. Slowly the facade fades and the sarcasm shows and you hear the anger and anxiety in the pre-chorus, and then she screams.

Screaming is a rock staple. It’s to show a boiling point and the release of frustration, desperation and distress. It’s painful and strains the voice while being in a masculine tone.

Olivia screams but as a little girl. It’s a high-pitched feminine scream to represent wanting to stay a teenage girl and her own person without expectations.

GUTS Rock Aspects

To be a woman is to lose agency over yourself. It is to belong to someone else as their wife, to be “built like a mother and a total machine,” as Rodrigo said herself in GUTS.

Rodrigo sings, “I know my age and I act like it,” which is putting her foot down on not letting her girlhood die. More and more you see grown women calling themselves girls to gain back some of that self-love and careless attitude we had in our childhood when we had no shame in our hobbies and outfits. Women are taking back the ability to be young, make mistakes and express the good, the bad and the ugly of being a girl.

Let girls enjoy screamo and rock music, let girls buy that extra thing to get free shipping and let girls be emotionally available without feeling horrible. Allow women to not feel shame about making decisions with their hearts.

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