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The Portrayal of Women in Hip Hop Music Videos

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The videos that have been analyzed are “Candy Shop.” – 50 Cent, Pitbull “Timber.” ft. Ke$ha and Jennifer Lopez “Booty.” ft. Iggy Azalea. These videos all present a culture of using sex to sell. In each music video, the women have been portrayed/referred to as inanimate objects, have been shown to dance provocatively for the attention of men, and feature the women in less than modest clothing choices. For example, in the music video “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent, the women are talked about as “candy”, therefore implying they are inanimate objects, and their purpose is for the sexual arousal of men. That women being the object of sexual desire is tantamount to their purpose in life. These messages are not only shown in these three music videos but other music videos are also guilty of detailing sexual exploits and attaching literal consideration to women outside of a means to achieve gratification and commonly explicitly relegate women to a class that is less worthy than that of men. This is also shown in the appearance of the women in these videos that commonly have/show society’s idea of “perfect body” with large breasts, small waist/flat tummy, and a big butt. They are also shown with perfect skin, and facial features.

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The portrayal of women in hip hop music videos can influence people’s ideas about gender. These videos will influence viewers into what they believe should be accepted of them in terms of their gender. Males for example, are commonly portrayed stereotypically. Families, friends, teachers, and the community all play a role in helping boys define what it means to be a man. Mainstream media representations also play a role in reinforcing ideas about what it means to be a “real” man in our society. In most media portrayals, male characters are rewarded for self-control and the control of others, aggression and violence, financial independence, and physical desirability, especially in music videos. Because music videos are shown almost everywhere, males will see these and therefore believe this is the expectation of them being as they are male. Females for example, are shown in media as “the perfect portrayal of women as sex objects.” Commonly in the media a woman’s face is not shown, instead, her body, especially her buttocks and breasts become a showpiece and are put on display, very commonly for the opposite sex. Viewers of these music videos will believe that what it means to be female is to “throw yourself” at the opposite sex, and be half naked, and dance provocatively in order to gain attention. They will believe that to be female you must be subjected to men (a sex appeal). Females viewing these music videos will think that in order to gain attention from boys or be the perfect female, they must have these women’s bodies and faces that are portrayed on the screen.

Discrimination is being encouraged in these music videos in relation to the gender of males. The music video stereotypes have extra impact on males because they create images based on these assumptions, helping to shape men’s own views about how they should act and how successful they are as men. What is shown in, specifically, “Candy Shop.” and “Timber” is men being dominant over the opposite sex. They appear to be strong (muscular), occasionally lifting the woman up, and excluding the men from showing different emotions. Because society has pushed the idea that males are discouraged from pursuing traits that are perceived as unmanly, such as showing a range of emotions, including fear, hurt, confusion or despair. In these music videos, a man in fear, or despair is not shown. It’s considered that even talking about these feelings is seen as “unmanly.” It influences the idea that men are also not encouraged to work cooperatively without the need for control, to love in a nonsexual way, or to solve conflicts without violence. These limited masculine standards can lead to discrimination against those who deviate from them. Females who watch these music videos, will then have certain expectations of men in relationships and in general.

A societal strategy that a community could become involved in, to encourage social justice in relation to this issue is to provide, at schools, and in the wider community (out of schools) of a educational opportunities to dispel stereotypes and address discrimination towards people with diverse sexual identities/sexualities (those who do not fit into society’s idea of a “male or female.” If people/students were guided appropriately and learnt information surrounding sexuality, they would able to pass this knowledge onto others. Another strategy that the community could become involved with is to avoid showing the actual music videos in stores, schools, etc. and just have the audio playing. If this strategy was to be carried out, people not viewing the actual music video would mean they are not as affected by discrimination as they would be by viewing it and seeing these stereotypical roles. The wider community could also campaign to have more “realistic” music videos made and played on the big screen, with people of all different sexualities.

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