"cock-rock performance means an explicit, crude, 'masterful' expression of sexuality ... Cock-rock performers are aggressive, boastful, constantly drawing audience attention to their prowess and control. Their bodies are on display ... mikes and guitars are phallic symbols (or else caressed like female bodies), the music is loud, rhythmically insistent, built around techniques of arousal and release. Lyrics are assertive and arrogant, but the exact words are less significant than the vocal styles involved, the shrill shouting and screaming."
Use of the term
The meaning of the term cock rock has changed over time. It was first mentioned by an anonymous author in the New York-based underground feminist publication Rat in 1970, to describe the male dominated music industry and became a synonym for hard rock, emphasising the aggressive expression of male sexuality, often misogynist lyrics and use of phallic imagery. The term was used by sociologists Simon Frith and Angela McRobbie in 1978 to point to the contrast between male dominated sub-culture of cock rock which was "aggressive, dominating and boastful" and the more feminised teenybop stars of pop music.Led Zeppelin have been described as "the quintessential purveyors of 'cock rock'". Other formative acts include the Rolling Stones, The Who and Jim Morrison of The Doors.
In 1981, Frith described the characteristics of cock rock in a way that could apply to female performers, not just male ones. In 2004, Auslander used this description of cock-rock characteristics to show that Suzi Quatro (the first female bass player to become a major rock star) is a female cock-rocker.
^R. Moore, Sells Like Teen Spirit: Music, Youth Culture, and Social Crisis (New York, NY: New York University Press, 2009), ISBN0-8147-5748-0, pp. 109-110.
^J. Gottlieb and G. Wald, "Smells like teen spirit: riot girls, revolution and independent women in rock", in A. Ross and T. Rose, eds, Microphone Fiends: Youth Music & Youth Culture (London: Routledge, 1994), ISBN0-415-90908-2, p. 259.