Oversexualization of women in the music industry
In an industry where women make up only 28 percent of the publishing and record label workforce, female artists often struggle to gain credibility and success. When the growing fantasy of a hyper-sexualized world is thrown in the mix, it’s no surprise that women are often portrayed as objects rather than people. In today’s society, most women are expected to rely on their appearance to be successful. Most of the pressures that they face come from the male-dominated nature of the industry; however, some prominent female artists are doing more harm than good in combating these issues.
From Miley Cyrus to Nicki Minaj, some number of women have willingly put their bodies on display to capture their audiences’ attention. One female artist who’s rapid rise to fame is due in part to her sexualized image is Cardi B. To be fair, Cardi had a sexualized image before she started producing music. It wasn’t just a byproduct of the pressure experienced within the industry.
We should be concerned about the example it sets
Cardi B has embraced her image and claims that she uses it to empower women. Despite her supposedly good intentions, her actions may be contributing to a bigger issue: that of women being viewed and treated as objects.
On March 1st, Cardi B released the new music video for her song “Please Me” with Bruno Mars. Given the title of the song, it’s unsurprising that the lyrics, outfits and choreography are highly explicit. In fact, that is the most concerning thing about this video: none of it is surprising. We expect to see barely-clothed women dancing atop men. We expect to hear lyrics about sex and the desire to be pleased by others. All of this is becoming the new norm, and that’s something women need to be cautious of.
From the video’s beginning to its ending, there are a few differences between the way men and women are portrayed that raise red flags. The first and most obvious is the manner in which Cardi and Bruno are dressed. Cardi has a skin tight and skimpy leather outfit on, and is wearing ripped fishnet tights. Bruno, however, is completely covered with jeans and a button up shirt.
The choreography presents another issue. The way Cardi and her backup dancers move their bodies is incredibly sexual, especially when viewed in the context of the lyrics. The way Bruno Mars and the other men dance is nowhere near as raunchy. Even the album art shows Bruno looking down at Cardi in a way that gives off a feeling of objectification.
The message that such imagery sends is unsettling, and we should be concerned about the example it sets for young people. Seeing women portrayed in an oversexualized way can lead young men to feel as though they are able to treat them as objects for their own pleasure. Sexual objectification is not only harmful because it hinders serious female artists in the music industry, but it may also lead women to develop health-related issues such as poor body image, depression, eating disorders and substance abuse.
It’s important to promote body positivity and non-conformity to the society’s vain expectations. Women should be able to feel pride in their bodies. But if a female artist, in an attempt to criticize the way the music industry oversexualizes women, instead objectifies herself, is there anything good being accomplished? Such hypocrisy can discredit other female artists who genuinely seek to combat this problem.