by Gurneet Tatla
Unfortunately, in today’s society sex sells and it is evident in the media everyone watches every single day. I took the time into looking at four songs: Monster by Kanye West, Rack City by Tyga, Where Have You Been by Rihanna and Kill You by Eminem.
I looked at both the lyrics and the official music video of Monster by Kanye West:
I personally felt like the music video was more offensive than the lyrics. I had a bad feeling as soon as the video started because right off the bat there was an explanation of how the video is a piece of art and shouldn’t be interpreted as something negative towards any group of people. Ummm… really!?!? I think a lot of people would agree that the video degraded women throughout the whole video. The very first image in the video shows a dead woman hanging off a chain by her neck in lingerie and high heels. Throughout this video there are images where women grabbing a shirtless Kanye through a gated barrier, and a lifeless woman, who are barely dressed laying on tables, on the ground, and hanging off chains from ceilings.
There’s a scene in the video (1:06) where Kanye is in bed with two lifeless “monsters” and he is manoeuvring them as he likes. He is moving their hands and positioning them as if they are marionettes and he is the puppet master. I found this scene very offensive because this is another typical example of how media portrayed women passive when it comes to their man. This scene is reinforcing that men should have power and control which leads to violence (emotional, physical, psychological, etc) in relationships. At 3:25 the video zooms out on Kanye holding a woman’s head by her hair, which I found very disturbing because it is perpetrating violence and portraying women in a very negative light. How come all the “monsters” are women”?!?!
I also looked at the lyrics and music video entitled Rack City by Tyga:
When I first heard this song on the radio the beat made me want to get up and dance. But when I started listening to the lyrics, I realized the song is about the gentle curves of a woman. This video objectifies women and portrays them as sex objects because of the way they are dressed in tight and revealing clothing. Also, the video zooms in on body shots. There’s a random scene where a woman is slowly sucking on a peppermint and a woman is paid to play golf in a compromising outfit in the background while two men are doing work. The men work to spend “ten ten ten twenties on titties bitch”at strip clubs where women wear masks. Lastly, the women in this video are referred to as “bitch”, which is very degrading and also reinforcing the society to think it’s okay to refer to women by names such as this.
I also looked at the lyrics and music video entitled Where Have You Been by Rihanna:
Rihanna is a very popular music artist throughout the world and people view her videos on a daily basis. I find her music very catchy and upbeat but I worry how she is objectifying women. I find it scary how she is allowing men to think its okay to view women this way because a woman herself is doing it. The video starts with Rihanna swimming and emerging from the water. As she’s emerging, the video is focusing on how her body and how she is coming out (from face to stomach). There are scenes where she is topless and is covering her breasts with her arms. She is also dancing with back up dancers who are barely dressed or wearing tight clothing. Rihanna’s dance movements and hand gestures are also sexual.
Rihanna opens with a sexist statement in her first verse by singing “I’ve been everywhere, man. Looking for someone. Someone who can please me. Love me all night long.” By Rihanna stating she wants to find a man, who can love and be with her all night long is allowing men to see women as sex objects. What really got to me was when she sings, “You can have me all you want. Any way, any day. Just show me where you are tonight.” This verse allows men to think they can have their way with women because they will have the upper hand in the relationship. No one should have their way over one another in a relationship nor is a relationship about winning. A relationship should be about mutual and equal understanding, being a good listener, being honest and being able to resolve issues together.
I looked at the lyrics of Kill You by Eminem as well:
In this song, Eminem sings lyrics such as “Slut, you think I won’t choke no whore ‘til the vocal cords don’t work in her throat no more?!”, “I’ma pull you to this bullet, and put it through you,” “Shut up slut, you’re causing too much chaos,” “Just bend over and take it like a slut.” This song is sexist because it perpetuates violence towards women. He sings about how women are nothing to him by calling them names such as “whore”, “bitch”, “slut” and associating them with blood, guts, guns, cuts and knives. Then at the very end he says, “Ha ha, I’m just playing ladies. You know I love you.” This is a typical example of how a woman stays in relationships even though her significant other is violent and abusive. For every woman the decision making for leaving or staying is different. Some women don’t leave because they may get victimized by their partner when they are trying to leave. Some women may feel like leaving an abusive relationship won’t necessarily guarantee their safety. Many women don’t leave because they have made a commitment to their partner and families. Instead, they hope that the abuse will stop and try to find ways to make the abuse go away. For some women, there is nowhere else for them to go, they have lack of support, etc. I am so grateful that women can seek help at Battered Women’s Support Services. BWSS provide support to women who are in abusive relationships by answering their questions, giving them advice and providing counselling.
Gurneet Tatla is participating in Violence, Media Representations and Families a media literacy program joint initiative between Kwantlen Polytechnic University Sociology Department, First Voices and Battered Women’s Support Services.