Invisible Abuse and Empowerment

Popular culture music disguises sexual desires

Music makes us feel emotions where we dance, sing in the car, and cry.  But the meaning behind the words becomes more apparent in music videos. Catchy tunes frame songs happily, when in fact it promotes sexual wants and needs.

It would be unfair to cast the blame on one decade or genre of music; therefore, we will explore the persistent abuse and empowerment battle from the 1970’s into the present decade, 2010’s.

Val Halen 1984 “Hot for teacher”

“Hot for teacher” displays female teachers as sexual runway models, who wear bras and underwear, in the classroom and cafeteria. In doing so, it objectified women to men’s pleasures while also arguing that deviant behavior is okay because your punishment is to hang out with the teacher after class.  The camera angles lead the eye to her bottom or her chest. Thus, all women are parts and will never be seen for the minds and hearts that sexism damages.  Women face societal hurdles based upon sex, which provides men with hegemonic ideas of women from the 1950’s working in the domestic field, for him and the family.  It is apparent that the media’s objectification of the sexes is so intertwined in society we cannot differentiate between it and the reality.

Whitney Houston 1990 “I’m your baby tonight”

Whitney sings about being captivated by a boy’s love. She explains “Whatever you want from me, I’m giving you everything. I’m your baby tonight.” Her want for love and affection is a means to attract the male audience toward her. It is up to the man to make the next move and she is in no hurry. This sexual depiction of her desires perpetuates the limited worth of a woman to male pleasure and at his mercy. Sexualization of women leads to rape culture and street harassment. The creepy part about this music video is the shadow of a male figure on her apartment’s walls. Then she drives a motorcycle toward the shadow when a random man jumps on the back of her motorcycle. This is the epitome of rape culture. To have a one night stand with a stalker, who has followed Whitney around her apartment and her shows, without knowing who he is leads to a cultivation theory how seduction and abuse are indistinguishable toward women.

Shania Twain 2002 “I’m gonna getcha good”

Shania is also captivated by love that she will do whatever is necessary so he falls in love with her.  Although she is chased by a giant robot, the message parallels the rest of the music industry. Persistence is acceptable. Men and women are allowed to repeatedly ask their crushes out until coerced to say ‘yes’.  The music video is set up like a cat and mouse game where Shania runs while the robot tries to catch her.  This eggs him on since she is playing hard to get.  Once again, a prime reason rape culture and stalking plague society.

Usher 2010 “More”

The facet of Usher’s concert blinds us to lyrics like “I’m that monster in the mirror” as he fights for a girl’s attention. Subtle images of female silhouettes resemble Whitney’s song of a mysterious person. However the roles are reversed so we see Usher’s privilege and access to women and ability to terrify her. This depiction is script for horror movies. A girl is in her house when a guy comes from behind and grabs her as the screen is cut to black. Usher’s video also makes me recall a primal form of humans. Due to the quick cuts, Usher looks animalistic “…where size, strength, and brutality are rewarded.”

Markets appeal to patriarchal society so men’ access and power trumps women’. This perpetuation made society buy into sexism, prejudice and discrimination, where privilege allows men to tell the woman she wants it and for the woman to say I want intimacy.  Rape culture is proliferated by these messages. Battle between sexism and privilege are factors in rape culture based upon who has access to the weaker individual. Typically, women and the LGBTQ community are blamed for the harassment since we wear provocative clothing and are weaker targets. Still, men are victims something rarely portrayed.  For society’s benefit, we must criticize music’s continuance of rape culture by standing up for one another, regardless of sex or sexual orientation, since most males are not sexual animals who prey on females like media claims.


4 thoughts on “Invisible Abuse and Empowerment

  1. I think this is a very serious post that you did this week. I think you make some good points about songs making men and women, mainly women, look like sex objects and just pieces of meat that a guy can hit and quit. For example, I think “hot for teacher” is a good example. The reason why is in the music video it depicts a a model girl as a teacher and sings about how he wants to go in after school to see her. To me the only reason why he wants to go in and see her is because he wants to hook up with her. I think this puts the wrong image into the youth, especially if they watch this music video. I think it will, honestly, pull children out of reality and put them on the wrong track, which can get them in trouble. I think whoever reads this post should not think this is funny, but serious because if you think she is making this post into a joke you are a 100% purebred, class A dumbass.

  2. Anonymous thank you for your feedback. I agree that the media’s portrayal of a sexy woman as a punishment sends the wrong message to society’s youth. If children are brought up with the idea of women as objects for male’s pleasure, it will further perpetuate rape culture and the gender discrimination that plagues our society. Although it may appear satirical, the fact is society is oblivious to the sublimial messages popular culture portrays. Thus, it may come as a shock to some that popular songs that we sing outloud to are not as innocent as previously perceived.

  3. The lyrics in music is much like the visuals we see in movies. When Hollywood film makers release a movie that has a lot of sexual or violent content and a mentally unstable person views that movie, it may provoke them to act out on what they saw in that movie. For example, “The Dark Knight” and the Aurora theater shooting in Colorado. The shooter was described as being dressed up as the joker. However, I do not recall a time when a violent act was related to the lyrics of a song but I see by your great examples that it could very well happen. I often wonder if people really take the time to listen to the lyrics and desipher the meaning or do they simply just like the beat of the song.

  4. Robrienco thank you for your comment. I think your reference to the Dark Knight Rises premiere theater shooting is interesting. Your example relates to the cultivation theory about the pleasure we, as media consumers, experience while actively participating in popular culture. However, this theory also discusses the indistinguishable relation between seduction and abuse. The hegemonic culture plays on society’s prescribed desire for action but places subliminal messages underneath the visual components. Another movie that is a good example of subtle message is Happy Feet. For children, this movie is about the life of a penguin how doesn’t fit into his community and fights for his fish. But, adults may be able to decipher the hidden message of human’s impacts on fish populations and the negative impacts on other species who rely on those fish. It is important to recognize the hidden messaging of media to gain insight regarding social acts, like shootings, and violence in an overarching sense.

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