I was twelve years old when my father and I went shopping for my first electric guitar. As I browsed the Gibsons and Fenders, I could feel the employees eyeing me nervously. They were quick to point me towards the acoustic guitars in the corner, asking if I “needed any assistance, young lady.” When they approached my father, however, the conversation took on the tone of equals discussing the minutiae of the instruments. The disheartening tone of the day shifted when I spotted pink glitter gleaming from the rows of instruments. The tag read, “Daisy Rock Girl Guitars”, and it was love at first sight. Its feminine aesthetic, such a stark contrast in the sea of overtly “masculine” guitars, really spoke to my identity at the time. Leaving the store, I felt validated in my new identity as a female electric guitarist. Daisy Rock, my shining beacon of hope in the Guitar Center, sent the message that there was a place for girls like me in rock music.
Unfortunately, as a female guitarist, this experience is not unique, and it exemplifies the type of gender stereotyping that sparked the creation of Daisy Rock. Since the guitar company’s inception in 2000, founder Tish Ciravolo has strived to “level the playing field” for women interested in the guitar, stating her desire to “create a better experience for [girls] in the music industry” (DaisyRock.com). Daisy Rock does indeed challenge the gender norms of rock music, by encouraging young girls to learn a traditionally “masculine” skill, providing them an outlet with which to express themselves, and carving out a space for adolescent females in the male-dominated world of electric guitars.
Nonetheless, the Daisy Rock message is problematical. Daisy Rock’s hyper feminine image reflects gender norms by implying that young girls have a purely superficial attraction to the instruments rather than an actual interest in the music, and strengthens gender divides by implying that all other guitars are inherently “male”. Through a sociological lens, and specifically with references to Laurel Richardson’s essay on gendered language and Barrie Thorne’s essay concerning adolescent gendered interactions, I explore the brand’s relation to stereotypical concepts of gender. Daisy Rock Girl Guitars both reproduce gender, by promoting an image of gender normative superficial femininity over genuine musicianship; and challenge gender, by creating a space for girls in the traditionally male-dominated world of electric guitars.