In the past few weeks, I’ve been struggling with popular music that embraces the idea of women as objects and that carry an undertone of disrespect for women.
Almost every music video played on popular music channels has two things in common: fully dressed men and barely dressed women. These women are usually dancing in a suggestive manner, while the men sing or rap about these women’s physical features and what they’d like to do with these women.
Usually, when singing or rapping about said women, the focus is on her physical features linked to her sexuality, with little to no focus on any of the other non-physical multiple attributes she possesses.
Worse still are the lyrics- a painful ode to the lack of value some place on women, a sad reminder that men, and some women, view women as objects of sexual desire, with their sole purpose being to please men. An article by Sezin Koehler gives a chilling account of how the lyrics of Robin Thicke’s smash hit, ‘Blurred Lines’, are eerily similar to what sexual assaulters say to their victims.
This topic is one that is discussed regularly and one on which even like-minded women differ. One side of the debate is that lyrics are just lyrics and music is just music, it’s not really what they mean, so it’s okay. It’s… fun. The women are consensually participating in the music video, so if anything, it speaks to women’s freedom on choice.
The other side of the debate is that by dancing to this music, one implicitly endorses what it represents- a lack of regard and respect for women and their bodies.
Then there’s the middle ground most women fall into. Most women don’t necessarily agree with the lyrics or the videos, but in the right environment, with the right people, the catchy tune is enjoyable to dance to and again, it’s… fun.
Hearing those lyrics and watching those music videos make me cringe. Every time. It’s an uncomfortable reminder of the reality we live in and face. It’s jarring and deeply upsetting. But sometimes, I’m caught by surprise as I dance to the catchy tune of a song whose lyrics blatantly disrespect me as a woman.
That’s why it’s hard to dance.
I dance. Then I stop. Because my mind and heart refuse to cooperate with my body, no matter how willing. It won’t change the world, but if it means one less woman is saying okay to the status quo, then so be it.