Women and the Music Industry

I, like many others, really enjoy music. It is a really nice way to relax, give you energy, or just to let it play in the background. Although I am into music, the different genres, collectives, the industries, and so on, I can still unfortunately tell you that there are a lot of glaring issues with it. I know you read the title of this post and thought, “Wow, that’s really vague”, however that’s because there are various issues in regards to women and music, between sexual assault, physical assault, and much worse. For the sake of brevity, I wanted to discuss the use of women in rap specifically.

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly appreciate this genre, however I sometimes get this strange feeling whenever I listen to it, or watch a music video. For one, women are almost never referred to as women in the lyrics. An overwhelming number of rapper still use the terms “hoe”, “trick”, or “bitch” whenever they want to talk about them. Women rappers, such as Young M.A., also hold to this in their lyrics. It is interesting how rapper who believe in being socially and politically progressive still do not utilize any other terms.

One of the other issues is that women are often used in music videos as props more or less. There exist many videos where you have the rapper in the centre in a luxurious setting surrounded by dozens of women wearing barely anything. The message that comes across on this is “I have a lot of money. I can afford expensive drinks. I have a lot of attractive women. All these things come in excess, so these are all expendable”, which is rather discomforting to see women being viewed as a luxury item, rather than an actual person.

I know I didn’t really offer any resolution to the issue, but merely made an observation, but I feel like sometimes addressing the problem is more important than a solution in some cases. A lot of people just accept it for what it is, or are even desensitized to it. I personally don’t see myself cutting off rap in the future, but these are things I keep in mind. That’s just my opinion though.

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14 thoughts on “Women and the Music Industry

  1. You make a very good point about choosing to address the situation even when a solution isn’t fully proposed. In many instances it is important to simply recognize that there is an issue and build on solving the issue from there. This is definitely something that I feel somewhat desensitized to, where I almost expect for any big rap hit to exploit women in their music video or songs and it makes me cringe every time I hear a rapper devalue a woman or see these half dressed women basically selling sex. Some could argue that these women are not forced to be a part of these videos and willingly choose to do so, but when will this unrealistic social stigma that rappers portray of having extravagant things and plethoras’ of women end.

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  2. I think in terms of women rappers referring to themselves as derogatory names is similar to black people calling each other the “n” word. They are reclaiming a term that was used against them in a denigrating manner, and coining it to be used in a redefining way. I do not necessarily agree with this practice, but partially understand the idea behind it. I feel conflicted when I’m out at parties dancing to music where artists call women out of their name. Do I ignore it for the culture? Is it bad to say that I still enjoy the work of these artists, or am I contributing to the problem?

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  3. I was waiting for someone to post about the music industry because I have a lot of opinions on this matter. It’s really scary that rap has such explicit language about women because people often listen to songs multiple times and repeat the lyrics as well. Whether conscious or not, these ideals can become implanted in peoples’ minds. Younger people are also the main targets of rap; meaning they listen to these lyrics during their formative years. It’s really hard for me to enjoy a song when there are really demeaning lyrics. It’s a shame because when I like a song or the beat, it’s difficult for me to ignore the lyrics.

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  4. Whenever I watch music videos that objectify people like this or use terms like this unironically I honestly cringe. Especially when it involves getting people involved just to be scantily clad and only be there for sexual appeal. Fun fact though, there was an artist who got so many complaints that he always had attractive women in his music videos that he decided to make a music video starring only himself. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTIIMJ9tUc8&ab_channel=SonyMusicIndiaVEVO

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  5. Najee, An interesting thought I then had in response to your article is what artists do you think then do a good job about referencing women in songs that you personally listen to? I am curious to if there are any that you can think of off the top of your head.

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  6. This is definitely something I’ve thought about when listening to certain songs, although I agree with Gia that when it comes to women using derogatory terms in their own songs that it is them reclaiming the terms. For men using these words and objectifying women, honestly I think I’ve also become desensitized to it. I’ll listen to a song and just sing along because it is second nature to. While this may not specifically affect me, I can see it influencing the vocabulary of men around me who listen to music like that. Recognizing that the terms and phrases these artists use about women in their music is one thing, but I don’t think just acknowledging it is enough.

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  7. I totally agree with you! I think about this a lot when I watch movies like The Fast and The Furious. Often the women are just standing around not actually involved in the plot, but there as sexual objects. Although, (sorry I’m going to keep mentioning the fast and the furious, I have just recently been watching them for the first time) there is a main character, Letty, who is pretty kick ass, but occasionally uses derogatory terms as if shes trying to prove she’s above other women or more similar to men. I feel like this is often the case when female rappers use objectifying language. I have recently been interested in making a girl positive playlist so I can listen and feel empowered instead of feeling kind of uncomfortable that an artist I like is objectifying women and trying to enjoy the songs anyway. I can def share with you if you’d like! It is rather short, sadly, but it’s a working progress!

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  8. Great topic!! I was literally just thinking about this very topic a few days ago. I was enjoying a song and singing along to it and my daughter repeated one of the lyrics back to me. It made me think about the other songs that I have enjoyed and really made me think closer to what it is that I listen to in the car especially with my 3 year old present. Again great topic!!

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  9. While I agree misogyny in music is a problem, it’s been pointed out to me that other genres do this just as much. At the end of the day, art will reflect the culture it’s made in and as such music will consider to objectify women, what with literally all the cultures doing the thing.

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  10. Interesting piece, I would’ve liked to see you go into more detail about your chosen topic though, since there’s so much to unpack re: how women are portrayed within music. When you start to critically examine music videos and other art, they’re very telling about how our culture views women. Not only in the case of objectified props like you mentioned, but also in the sense of what kind of women are seen as desirable. More often than not, tall, fair, thin women are projected as props for sexualization, whilst other women that do not fit into this mold are either non-existent or for comedic effect.

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  11. You made a really great point and observation on the way rap music referred to as. I never really thought about this, but I agree that women are overly sexualized in these lyrics and are treated as mere objects rather than human beings. I think that a lot of people, especially college students, are desensitized to it because they encounter songs like this when going out to parties, clubs, or bars.

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  12. I feel that certain rap music that “promotes” the ideal of men surrounded by gold, money, and scantily clad women is actually attempting to promote a macho, unrealistic portrayal of a persona. This over confident persona can come across as hyper masculine, so it’s not surprising that derogatory words are used. However, hyper masculinity is not a good state in which to live. Additionally, I feel that it is easily forgotten how rock music has blatant derogatory storylines, without using specifically derogatory words.

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  13. I completely agree with your statement that women are generally viewed as objects and props in most music videos however there are many instances where men are as well. Usually female rappers find muscular attractive men to be their “play things” in their videos. I will say that female rappers tend to also have other attractive women in their videos as well. Male rappers don’t usually hire other men to be objectified. But very insightful post! 🙂

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  14. i feel like the problem is not the music industry. i believe music is just a tool that people use to express themselves and what they are going through. while this does not change the fact that women are being referred to in the music as less than it changes the issue from them being expressed to how can we address the culture that we are living in today because i feel the music is a direct reflection of the culture.

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