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Rockin' Out of the Box: Gender Maneuvering in Alternative Hard Rock by Mimi Schippers. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers
University Press, 2002, 208 pp., $20.00 paper.
The idea that gender is a constantly shifting performance has been around for a long time. Certainly "gender maneuvering" is at the heart of rock music, where '60s cock-rock bad boys like Mick Jagger pranced onstage in tight silver pants, scarves and stacked heels. In the '70s, glam metal bands like Kiss or Black Sabbath wore makeup, long fingernails, wigs and platform heels. Yet these guys-dressed-as-girls enjoyed admiring publicity and the "booty/ie" of sex with countless female groupies. This makes rock, writes Mimi Schippers in Rockin Out of the Box, "one of the few cultural spaces in which men have crossed gender boundaries and not lost status." Then in the early '90s, "riot-grrls" in combat boots kicked onstage with "genre-defining styles, music, and practices," sometimes playing for all-female audiences. For a sociologist like Schippers, interested in how people "do" gender, rock is the perfect topic.
Schippers moves beyond the grrls, because she's interested in male/female transactions. Between 1992 and 1995, she hung out in an alternative-rock circle in Chicago as a participant/observer, gathering information about its "anti-sexist approaches" to rock music norms. She interviewed members of alternative hardrock bands that have little name recognition to those outside the circle (L7, Soundgarden, Babes in Toyland, Poster Children, 7 Year Bitch) and documented interactions among the young men and women on the scene. Rockin' Out of the Box contains attractive ingredients: …