07 Jun The Over Sexualization of Women in Popular Music – By Gerrod Harris
We’ve all seen it. A raunchy, overly sexually driven music video launched by many of the currently charting female artists. It isn’t a new phenomenon, in fact, since the creation of MTV in 1981; music videos have become an excellent method of promoting one’s hit singles. But the 80’s were a much more conservative time in pop music compared to now. With the exception to a few videos, music videos were most often used as promotion of one’s music through another medium to express themselves, whether it be so choreographed dance numbers, or even trying to tell a story. Even for most of the 90’s this sense of innocence remained consistent. So what changed? Why is it, in the last decade or so, have both the music videos and live performances of pop music amongst female artists become so sexual?
In most cases, the outfits have gotten skimpier, the choreography is what you would expect to see in a strip club, and the messages sent through these visual mediums are often quite explicit. Why do I, a young adult male, see this as an issue? Because the pop music market is greatly driven by the popularity of teenage girls. The bodies seen in these videos are often altered through creative uses of different camera angels, lighting, and other methods. Even such talents like Katy Perry, Beyonce, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, and Lady Gaga are guilty of doing this. It all comes back to musical promotion. It’s rare to find a creative music video nowadays (say something with a little more class or something making an artistic statement) which would generate anything near the media buzz Miley Cyrus did simply because of her wrecking ball video. That is probably the best example to look at seeing how much of an effect it had and how recent it was. Cyrus wanted to break away from her previous image which appealed to young girls, and frankly, this was not a sudden shift, she’s been slowly trying to gain a more mature image to suit her aging fans. To me, that makes sense, but teens and younger girls still look up to her and her mature, revealing image will have an effect socially on girls and how they see themselves, compared to the next top video.
Whether they call it modern choreography or deep artistic choices, the end product is often over sexualized, which is a great tool to promote and sell music. Socially, these images perpetuated only further push the misconstrued idea of a singular mold for beauty and because of these reasons, popular music has become as much, if not more a visual experience than something for our ears.