Feminism Goes Mainstream? Feminist Themes in Mainstream Popular Music in Sweden and Denmark


In recent years, feminist scholars have turned their attention to the seeming resurgence of feminism in mainstream culture. This resurgence coincides with a rise in feminist activism, as testified by the many campaigns that have mobilized millions of people around the issues of violence against women, sexual harassment, reproductive injustice, and abortion rights. This article draws on the literature on the cultural consequences of social movements to explore if and how the new wave of grassroot feminist activism influenced feminist themes in top-charting mainstream popular music. We conducted a thematic analysis of the lyrics of all female-performed songs in the Swedish Top-60 and Danish Top-40 between 2017 and 2018. Our results show that neoliberal feminist themes count for the majority of the feminist themes detected. However, performers also employed themes ascribable to radical and liberal feminist traditions. We conclude with some reflections on the commercialization of feminist messages, pointing to openings for further research.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v13i1p284

Keywords: Cultural Outcomes; Feminisms; Mainstream Popular Music; Neoliberal feminism; Social Movements; Thematic Analysis


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