‘It’s not a boys’ club’?: Masculinity in Australian underground hip hop
The Australian underground hip hop scene is a creative community, but it is a community of predominantly male artists. This gender imbalance is a widely acknowledged fact within the Australian literature on hip hop. However, few scholars have elaborated on what this looks like in practice, or what effects this imbalance has on female artists. Based on interviews with current underground hip hop artists, this thesis seeks to examine how gender roles are experienced, maintained, and challenged in the underground scene. Drawing on Raewyn Connell’s notion of ‘hegemonic masculinity,’ Kalle Berggren’s concept of ‘sticky masculinity,’ and Tony Coles’ formulation of ‘mosaic masculinities,’ this thesis highlights the ways in which male artists negotiate their masculinity through underground hip hop by engaging in practices that lend themselves to the construction of a respected masculinity. I argue that the underground hip hop scene represents a space in which masculinity is navigated and ultimately affirmed. This thesis also investigates the effects of masculine practices on women, showing the challenges to their legitimacy as artists as well as their experiences of sexualised, unsafe spaces. However, this thesis also looks to the future. I explore how masculine hegemony might be challenged and transformed. I highlight changing gender dynamics within the underground scene, and male artists’ changing relationship to masculinity. In centring gender, this research therefore contributes to what is an underexplored but empirically observed part of creating and engaging with hip hop in Australia.