Joan Jett’s Feminism and its Importance in The Music Industry

Music | Shanelle Jacobs

Joan Jett is Rock and Roll royalty. Not only is she in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she is also an icon to women across the music industry. Starting her career as a rhythm guitarist, lead vocalist, and co-writer in the girl band The Runaways, she has continued to write lyrics that have pushed the power of feminism and broken societal barriers for women.

Just like her major hit, “Bad Reputation”, Jett is not afraid to fight against the injustices of the music industry.

In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, the term ‘feminist’ was not widely used. The lack of term did not deter the feminist uproar within the hearts of many women during this time. The Runaways, and their dynamic lyrics, leveled the playing field—singing songs about sex, drugs, and the rockstar lifestyle, just as The Rolling Stones did. Their music shifted what was considered appropriate for girls to sing, challenging gender discrimination against women within the music industry and throughout the public—where it was deemed taboo for women to sing about such ‘masculine’ topics.

Starting her career as a rhythm guitarist, lead vocalist, and co-writer in the girl band The Runaways, she has continued to write lyrics that have pushed the power of feminism and broken societal barriers for women.

During Jett’s solo career,  songs like “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Bad Reputation” represented the unshacklement of feminist values within an industry catered to men. It was always a constant battle to prove to others that a girl can play rock and roll, and be pretty damn great at it. Jett wanted to be the best in a genre dominated by men, she wanted to play the songs instead of be the topic of them. Women have always been the subject of music, but performing it was considered too sexual and masculine for women to do. Although Jett has made strides in leveling opportunity, the industry still oppresses women musicians—making it twice as difficult for women to succeed in genres heavily dominated by men. What’s most inspiring about Jett is her ability to make ideals uncomfortable in order to fight for equality.

Just like her major hit, “Bad Reputation”, Jett is not afraid to fight against the injustices of the music industry. Although misogyny is still prominent in today’s society, Jett’s resilience and fight for gender equality displays the power of femme and its ability to destroy social barriers.