I have been expressing concern over music and music videos that demean women for some time. Back in 2008 in a post “Claim back the music” I questioned the growing trend towards lyrical sexism and misogyny:
Song lyrics have always been filled with sexual innuendo and pushed society’s boundaries but this in-your-face mainstream misogyny is relatively new. And now – thanks to large plasma screens in shopping centres, bowling alleys and bars and night clubs – it is inescapable. It’s hate and porn, all the time.
I went so far as to call on radio stations to devote a day to music that portrays women in a positive light:
Five years ago if you had suggested we needed Earth Hour, an hour where we all turned off the lights to remind ourselves to be mindful of power consumption and our impact on the planet, you would have been thought a radical environmental extremist. Yet as things literally heated up, the lights all went out. How much hotter do things need to get on our airwaves and on our TV sets? I suspect society will also agree we have now indeed reached tipping point and will embrace a day that seeks to claim back the music.
Smart radio stations will jump on board. Overseas, special days devoted to the positive portrayal of women in music have pushed radio stations ratings through the roof…
And as companies madly chase the female dollar, surely keeping women happy and showing them, and their daughters, respect can only be a smart and strategic marketing move?
Money doesn’t just talk – it sings too.
Sadly, rather than noting change what I have noted is just how mainstream hypersexual imagery in music has now become. Case in point? At the Australian Small Business Champion Awards held in November last year, where Enlighten were Finalists for Educational Services Business of the Year, the entertainment was a Gaga tribute band. You may recall me questioning Gaga in my previous post Lady Gaga’s Toxic Mess:
(in her film clip for “Telephone”) Lady Gaga gets thrown in a sadomasochistic-porn-fantasy version of a women’s prison; there is violence, sexual intimidation, graphic tongue kissing, cigarettes, and barely any clothes. Then her lover Beyonce bails her out so they can go on a killing spree, murdering multiple people, most of them strangers, by poisoning them. They look like they’re having a great time. They drive off into the sunset. Think “Thelma and Louise” but drained of all meaning and instead filled with product placement for mobile phones, sunglasses and other branded gear you may soon be expecting teen girls to start asking for.
There my team and I sat amongst the other mostly senior businesspeople dressed in our black-tie and ball-gown best, whilst up on stage the Gaga wannabe pretended to masturbate with a microphone and rubbed her crotch up and down her dancers, who were gagged and dressed only in silver underpants. It was surreal. Sad. Embarrassing. Where to look? What to say? “Congratulations on being named Entrepreneur of The Year. And oh I say, if you look up now on the big screens you will see a charming close up of that woman’s crotch!”
A snapshot of how women are portrayed in the musical charts at the moment also proves I am right to remain concerned. Number one on the iTunes charts is the song “Dirty Talk” by Wynter Gordon. She repeatedly tells us she is no angel, wants to “fight through the night” and likes it “hard-core”:
Kitten heels, lingerie,
Legs up, on the bar,
in the back of your car,
bubble bath, whipped cream,
cherry pop tag team,
can you make me scream
In case you’re not familiar with the terminology, “cherry pop tag team” is a reference to her wanting to have sex with many partners – one after the other. One assumes she’d prefer this to happen whilst being made to scream.
The one-time poster girl against domestic violence Rihanna, in her song subtly named “S&M” croons:
Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me
I appreciate that sadomasochism does not predispose those aroused by it to participating in or enjoying violent acts outside the metaphoric bedroom – yet I can’t help but wonder if the young fans get the distinction. Surely mainstream exposure to lyrics like this, sung by artists they admire, make it more challenging for them to distinguish what is acceptable in a relationship? As I cited in my recent post Because We’re Worth More, the most recent national data shows that one in three women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15, nearly one in five women has experienced sexual assault since the age of 15 and almost every week, one woman is killed by her current or former partner.
The reality is not very sexy or song-worthy is it?
Meanwhile HipHopConnection.com has leaked a video teaser for the Kanye West hit song “Monster.” The teams at Adios Barbie and Collective Shout gave me the heads-up on this one. So alarmed were they by the scenes of eroticised violence against women that they have put together a petition to ask for it not to be released here. They explain why it is so disturbing.
In just 30 seconds, viewers take in image after image of eroticized violence against women:
– Dead women, clad in lingerie, hang by chains around their necks.
– West makes sexual moves toward dead or drugged women propped up in a bed.
– A naked dead or drugged woman lays sprawled on a sofa.
If that’s not enough, a behind-the-scenes clip of the video includes a semi-naked dead woman laying spread eagled on a table in front of Rick Ross as he eats a plate of raw meat. It is likely we can expect more brutal images in the full-length video.
The victims in this video are clearly women. Only women. And the men, Kanye West, Rick Ross, and Jay-Z, are far from bothered by the female corpses. They seem to enjoy being surrounded by lifeless female bodies, apparent victims of a serial killing.
The official release date of the full-length video has not yet been announced. Let’s make it clear to Universal Music Group, the controlling company of West’s record label, Roc-A-Fella Records, and MTV that the music industry’s portrayals of women’s pain, suffering, abuse, objectification, and victimization as valid forms of entertainment are not acceptable.
We call on Universal Music Group and MTV to combat violence against women by refusing to support, promote, and/or give airtime to West’s “Monster” video.
I urge all my readers to sign this petition too. It will take less than a minute.
Enough is enough. Agree?
11 thoughts on “Prevent Official Release of Kanye West’s Women-Hating “Monster” video”
Hypersexual videos have destroyed Saturday morning television of music videos – this has been going on for over 5 years. You can’t even watch top 20 video clips with your children. Well done for highlighting the appalling content of these music videos.
We so do not need this filth and revolting music video.
Music should open up our world, touch our soul, make us feel uplifted not shun in terror, make us feel physically ill, or have to cover our children’s ears. My two boys are constantly exposed to mainstream culture and having to prepare them to fight against this type of messaging is time and energy consuming and not what I want to be doing ALL the time.
As a child/adolescent psychotherapist I believe that sexualised images have been tearing away at our young people’s self-images for long enough. Excellent article Danni!
Thanks Collett – and may I recommend your blog to my readers too: http://thetweenfactor.blogspot.com/
Thanks Danni – would love you too!
Please stop this portrayal of women. It has invaded our television, radio, advertising and most recently I was disgusted at the moves and music chosen for a childrens dance concert. It was appalling, inappropriate and degrading to women. We don’t want our children to grow up believing this is OK.
We need to put a stop to this now! Every voice will strengthen our voice.
It sounds so chilling when it’s worded like that. It is sinister and really a bit nauseating. I cringed when I read about the business awards and vaginas.
Our culture seems so very vile….it seems that exposure to sexual violence isn’t only behind closed doors anymore, it’s on our TV screens, on our computers, in billboards in the streets. It normalises and glorifies vindication of women and makes us seem week, needy and subservient. What is wrong with these producers that they need to show women in this light? What kind of issues do they have that they’re not addressing? And why aren’t we celebrating femininity as something beautiful – with no shame of being strong, attractive, change-making and a force? After everything the suffragettes went through, we are setting ourselves back by 50 years when we watch and enjoy this depraved ‘artwork’.
I don’t have children, but the world I want my daughters to grow up in will be free from the glamorisation of violence, self harm and eating disorders. It will be free from closeted violence, and glorification of overt sexualisation. It will celebrate sexuality, while not abusing it. More than anything, I want my daughters to feel confident and comfortable in their bodies, without feeling the need to writhe around half-naked and half-dead for some MTV producer, who’s probably getting his rocks off while filming. Just ew.
I am stunned into anger by these dehumanising videos that treatlife so very violently.
I will be signing that petition FOR SURE! The description of that Kanye West clip makes my blood boil.
Also I must admit I have always quite liked Rihanna and was really disappointed to hear the S and M track when I received her album for Christmas. It’s such a catchy tune but why those lyrics? Is there nothing more worthwhile/interesting/fun to sing about? I assume she believes she is “playing a role” performing that song but as you say, will her young fans make that distinction?
Thanks for the great post Danni.
Great post Danni. It worries me that there seems to be no lack of a market for this type of material. It begs the question, does life imitate art or art imitate life? Either way, the growing number of music lyrics and accompanying video clips combining sex with violence is a sad indication of where our society is at, and in particular, its lack of regard for women.
Of course this disturbing ‘trend’ has seeped into everything from (un)reality TV shows (such as ANTM) to magazine ads and even books. I was amazed when looking for a good holiday read recently, that out of the entire shelf of ‘top recommended’ books, the vast majority were either about serial killers/rapists or vampires. Where to from here?!
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