Music’s Role in the Exploitation of Women

So often this conversation finds itself among the realms of modern “rap” music. But I don’t want to run the risk of excluding other forms, so if after you read this article, please comment with additional genres where you have found similar examples. The media in general plays an amazingly detrimental role in the denigration of the status of a woman, let alone a woman’s self-esteem.

This article does not serve to place blame or point fingers at different forms of music. But what it will do is highlight reasons and factors that contribute to the overall negative stereotypes of women and suggest what we, as a society, can do to tackle this delicate issue.

Though I was born in the early eighties, I definitely “came of age” during the nineties. This “interesting” period of rap culture gave rise to artists such as Nelly, T.I., Lil Kim, Trick Daddy, Master P; this list could continue straight down the page. And I will be the first to admit, I listened to all of this music. But what are we, especially “we” as young girls and women, taking into our spirits when we listen to these lyrics?

It’s difficult enough simply having to grow up, to make the transformation from childhood, to adolescence, to womanhood. But to have to live and grow in a society that places heavy emphasis on looking “perfect” and talking and acting a certain way doubles the challenge.

What the music says
Today, some rap lyrics are laced with pimp references. We live in a society where the idea of the “pimp” culture is seen as something to which young men aspire. Unfortunately, many of those young minds have not a clue on the devastating reality those lyrics serve for countless young women.

With songs like Ghostface’s “Wildflower,” Nelly’s “Tip Drill” and Dr. Dre’s “B****** Ain’t S***,” you would be hard pressed to find encouragement towards women. I will refrain from using the actual lyrics of these songs, but the dehumanizing tone is gravely detrimental in the view of women and the role of women in our culture.

An especially excellent documentary, Miss Representation, produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsome, explores numerous influences that contribute to the degradation of young girls. This article provides a brief overview of the film and a panel discussion that ensued afterwards.

Changing the atmosphere
As a community, we need to take responsibility in the mediums to which we expose our young people. Yet in still, it’s not enough to simply dictate what a young person should not listen to. We need to offer viable, alternative solutions – those which stimulate positive views of self.  The teaching begins with young girls AND young boys, because it is ultimately how a child is raised that will determine their outlook on life and their views of themselves and their peers.

Music will continue to evolve as culture evolves, but we must not let it have such a strong hand in raising our children.

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