In the modern age, it’s not surprising that our lives revolve heavily around social media. However, this normalisation doesn’t make it ok. Women are sexualised in the media much more frequently than men; this is very clear in the observation of music videos. Women are typically in less clothing, do more provocative dance moves and sexual poses. These women are portrayed as ‘asking for it’ which not only promotes the unnecessary sexualisation of women but also rape culture. These music videos cause young people to draw supposed conclusions about ‘being easy’ or ‘asking for it’ based on what people wear.
Rape culture essentially tells young girls that it is their fault and not the perpetrators. Another problem is the unrealistic body expectations being created. A music video that captures these issues is “Please Me by Cardi B and Bruno Mars”. The song opens with Mars asking to ‘please me’. The song and music video is centred around a woman needing to please a man.
The video shows the women dancing sexually in minimal clothing, while the men are fully dressed and are dancing non-provocatively while making demands. When the men and women are in a scene together, the men are sitting in chairs while the women are crouched down and twerking. This image demonstrates the sexualisation of women in the media and the power balances in relationships.
Because sex sells, women typically have to portray themselves or feel that they need to portray themselves, more sexually to be successful.
This is increasingly common in the media that impressionable people have constant access to. For young people viewing this content, it can alter the way they see the world. The lyrics depicting Cardi B carrying out a sexual fantasy could make young girls feel pressured to mirror her sexual prowess. As part of Dove’s self-esteem project, a study was conducted at Ryerson University in Toronto, to compare how young women were effected by music videos containing ‘perfect’ looking women. The outcome showed that the videos substantially decreased the young women’s confidence in their appearance. This study is not the only one suggesting that overtly sexualised content is unhealthy for young people. Studies have found that these images being constantly pushed onto young girls and women causes their body image to be impacted, increased anxiety, depression and eating disorders. The women in the music video are portrayed as ‘begging for sex’. Their lack of clothing can encourage the idea to young men that women who look or dress a certain way, automatically want sex. As well as this, the imbalance between the sexualisation of men and women also can reinforce gender stereotypes and roles.
Men are often portrayed with women ‘at their feet’, metaphorically or literally. The constant objectification of women can cause people to simply accept disrespectful behaviour. This kind of behaviour can reflect in relationships and create unhealthy dependencies. When one person holds the power in the relationship, the other person can become submissive and feel trapped or like they are a possession. With controlling behaviour and unequal respect, relationships have the potential to become very toxic and even abusive.
These qualities do not have a place in healthy relationships. The base of a positive relationship is respect. In a respectful relationship, instead of power imbalances, there is empowerment. Empowerment allows people to remain individuals, while in or out of a relationship. While it is important to put effort into a relationship, it is just important to feel safe enough to be able to set boundaries, say no and remain your own person. Feeling comfortable to be honest and not being restricted with communication is also crucial. These qualities are critical to create a healthy relationship. By having an independent identity, just being a possession is avoided.
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