Sex sells. There is no denying this reality. For hundreds of years, women have been second-class citizens. Men are often seen in today’s society as being in a leadership type of position. A majority of world leaders today are male, as well as the CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies. Although men are seen as dominant, one should not negate the power and intelligence that women also equally possess. In today’s pop culture, women are still seen as sexual objects. To objectify a person—in this case, a woman—is to dehumanize them, stripping away their value only to a certain point. The point in question is the sexual aspect or connotation. The objectification of women is particularly prevalent in the music videos of these past decades since they can be an important part of an artist marketing their music, yet women still continue to challenge gender stereotypes.
Music videos are notoriously known for featuring women in a provocative, sexual manner, whether it is through clothes—or lack of them—, looks, or physical actions. Male artists especially market off of using female models in their videos to appeal to the hetero male audience. These videos are also mostly seen by the younger generation who like the artist’s music, generating many views on social media platforms such as YouTube. It's also important to note that when we are young we are also quite impressionable. Herein lies the dangers of young men coming to believe that one should “bag” or have sexual relations with as many women as possible, and young women believing that they must look like the models in the videos in order to be considered attractive. This also contributes to the way society deems men and women as acceptable or normal, and anyone who deviates from the norm are labeled or, at the very least, thought of as a social outcast.
One music video/song that particularly objectifies women is the Ying Yang Twins’ 2005 song Wait (The Whisper Song). The video opens with one of the artists whispering into a woman’s ear, seducing her with sexually explicit language. Such language includes, “You got a sexy ass body,” “You might had some but you never had none like this,” and “Ay bitch! Wait til you see my dick.” The video proceeds to have the two male artists laying with dozens of women in lingerie all across the floor. There were also objects in the video to take note of, such as a popped champagne bottle and an expensive car.
The objectification of these women first starts with the seduction. In the song, the two male artists think of themselves as high and mighty for showing these women that what they will do in bed is nothing like they have ever experienced before. This attitude presents the two men as better than all the women in the video for having so much experience, yet if the roles were reversed, the artists would see the women as “hoes,” which further emphasizes the double standard that men and women experience when discussing sexual prowess. Yet, women rappers have also used the words “Bitch” and “Hoe” to refer to women, such as Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea. I hypothesize that the cause lies within the rap industry itself, since it is dominated by males. The hyper-masculinity that men are expected to exude also puts men in a gender role.
The second way the video objectifies the women is through the objects featured. The objects in the video such as the champagne bottle and expensive car, coupled with the excess of women, also tells the audience that the women are items or toys that when acquired, will earn you status amongst your fellow men, just like expensive alcohol and cars would. The two males are also dressed in nice suits and ties, while the women are wearing nothing but bikinis or lingerie. This also pushes the message that if a woman has a nice body they should wear as little as possible in compared to a man in order to please him. Overall, although the song and video itself might seem silly or a joke, there are deep sexual stereotypes and connotations this piece thrusts in front of our faces that speak of our generation.
On the flip side, not all lyrics and music videos share in this feminine exploitation. In Ciara’s 2007 song Like a Boy, Ciara questions the roles of men and women, and proceeds to show us the reversal of gender roles in her video. In the opening sentence she says, “2007. Ladies, I think it's time to switch roles.” The stating of the year suggests that for such a long amount of time, women have been placed in a certain role, whether it means being a dutiful girlfriend, housewife, etc., and men have enjoyed the benefits of their patriarchy. To be so technologically advanced in other fields, not being advanced and accepting of the infinite amount of genders in the world is backwards thinking. It's now time to “switch up the roles” and let women enjoy the same benefits, as Ciara states, “Getting your cash like him,” “What if I had a thing on the side” and “Go run the streets just like him.” These words also further the notion that men can do whatever they want without consequence or at most tolerate mere arguments from their significant others. It's for these and many more reasons Ciara ends her chorus with, “Sometimes I wish I could act like a boy.”
Moving towards the visual aspect of the song, Ciara is for most of the video dressed in stereotypical men attire and looks, ranging from: a suit and fedora with cornrowed hair, white tank top, trucker hat, baggy jeans, and sneakers. An especially striking scene towards the beginning of the video features Ciara dressed as a man in the suit and a woman in a dress and heels dancing on the same floor. This provides a visual dichotomy between the two sexes, particularly through their dance moves, as masculine Ciara displays more intricate and advanced moves than her more feminine counterpart. Feminine Ciara is portrayed more so as an accessory, “If I played you like a toy,” particularly when her arm is used as a coat hanger for masculine Ciara’s fedora, which is a strong, male-associated hat to begin with. Feminine Ciara’s dance moves are more sexualized as well, which connects to the way females are portrayed as objects or toys in male artist’s music video, such as Wait (The Whisper Song).
Moving towards the middle of the video, Ciara is now dressed as stereotypical rapper or B-boy/break-dancer. Other women dressed in the same attire also join her. Their dance moves are also more complex and aggressive, moves that a man in their position would have made. Most women in music videos would either be laying down somewhere, posed somewhere or dancing against the man, all of which the female dancers are not doing. This moment can be seen as an act of defiance against men for all the stereotypes women have had to endure because of their assigned gender.
One action to take note of is of the women grabbing the crotch area of their pants, a move that many males perform in not only videos, but other platforms as well, such as advertisements. It's as if this action is asserting to everyone that there is indeed a penis and scrotum underneath those pants, and that it is something valuable that women want yet do not possess themselves. Ciara goes on to state all the things men stereotypically do such as not call back or be with other women. Speaking of gender roles and stereotypes, the gender spectrum is used to illustrate that the gender identification of an individual is not binary, it is FLUID. It is not restricted to the organs in your body or what you have between your legs or on your chest. An individual who identifies as a woman, man, both, none, etc., who loves makeup can also love sports, and vice versa.
Overall, despite some female artists not using women as sexual objects in their videos, there is still an overwhelming amount of both male and female artists who do so. It's no wonder why videos that have strayed away from the gender norm and those who take the norm to an extreme level get the most attention. Although one question still remains in my head, when female artists feature female models in their videos, where is the line drawn between exploitation and celebration of a woman’s body?
Congratulations go out to Ciara and her fiance Future! The musical couple welcomed their first child together, a baby boy, on Monday, May 19, in Los Angeles, according to Page Six.
Ciara confirmed the news via Twitter on May 20, announcing that her son's name is Future Zahir Wilburn and that he weighed in at nine pounds 10 ounces. She also shared a photo on Instagram:
The 28-year-old recently posed for W magazine baring her gorgeous belly of 8 months, telling the magazine that she gets parenting advice -- "everything from breastfeeding to how a stroller works"-- from her friend and new mom Kim Kardashian.
"You don't really know your child until they get here, you don't know their personality," Ciara told W of Kardashian's wise words. "There's a lot of learning to do. I loved that advice."
Ciara first revealed her pregnancy on "The View" in January, by cradling her belly as she addressed the persistent rumors that followed her October 2013 engagement to Future.
This is the first child for Ciara, but Future has three children from previous relationships, notes People.