Gender Fluidity in the Music Industry

The societal construct of gender and how it has affected the music industry.


Anwar Hussein

Pop star David Bowie, circa 1974

Rose Halley , Staff Writer

     “Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed. This includes norms, behaviors and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl or boy, as well as relationships with each other. As a social construct, gender varies from society to society and can change over time.” -World Health Organization  

     Gender fluidity has always been a controversy weather that is in the music industry, or not. There have been several icons who have broken the boundaries of gender. That could be David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Harry Styles, Prince, Freddie Mercury and many more. They have all had their fair share of struggles being in the public eye and being gender fluid in different ways.  

1.) David Bowie.  

     David Bowie was ridiculed for how he dressed while performing. The different characters he would put on such as, Ziggy Stardust, were bullied by the public for being too feminine. He was also bisexual which was not widely accepted when he was alive, and many did not like him for that factor alone. Some people even after his death say horrible things about him simply for being himself. Although he did not let them get to him. He continued to perform and explore the human experience as widely as he wanted to before it came to an end in early 2016.  

David Bowie Performing As Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie Performing As Ziggy Stardust. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.

2.) Mick Jagger 

     Mick Jagger is the lead singer of The Rolling Stones, a very popular band with music for everyone. Although he does not dress nor act as society wants him to. He continues to push the boundaries of gender through his music as well as style. 

Mick Jagger


Mick Jagger. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.

3.) Harry Styles 

     Harry Styles was in one direction and is currently exploring a solo career. He continues to push gender boundaries every day. Whether that be what he wears on tours and photoshoots to what he wears walking down the street. He recently was ridiculed for wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue. People believed it made him less of a man when, in my opinion, it does the very opposite. He of course did not let that stop him and continues to push society in every way and forever strives to create a safe space for everyone.


4.) Prince 

     Prince, just like the others, pushed the confines of gender through fashion. People were constantly questioning his sexuality as if it was any of their business. “’She said, ‘Are you gay?’ Kinda took me by surprise, I didn’t know what to do, I just looked at her in the eyes and said, ‘No, are you?’” Prince “Uptown” 1980.  

Prince Performs In Polka Dot Costume

Prince Performs In Polka Dot Costume . Photographer. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.

5.) Freddie Mercury 

     LastlyFreddie Mercury was the lead singer of Queen and was not afraid to question the boundaries he was put under and challenge them as they came. In Queen’s music video for the infamous “I Want to Break Free” song, Freddie dressed in “women’s clothing” and it was a big topic of controversy at the time. Many places wanted to ban the video from being shown, simply because he was wearing clothing that would be considered “woman’s clothes.”  

Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.

     In my personal opinion, gender confines and boundaries are put in place by society to keep individuals in boxes to make everyone else comfortable. The important thing to remember is your gender identity is no one else’s business but your own and you do not owe anyone any sort of explanation. Push the boundaries and look up to people who have done it before you and let them inspire you.  

If you would, please leave a comment of what your opinion is on gender boundaries and how they affect you every day.