Objectification and Degrading of African-American Women in Hip-hop Music Videos Music has been one of the most infamous forms of expression. It is used as a means by which people could be able to voice out their opinions and represent the current condition of the society that they are in. In relation to these, music is also a tool that is used to influence the perspective and behavior of people when it comes to different matters. Being the case, music could be regarded as a powerful medium that could persuade or even manipulate the way of thinking and actions of people.
In connection to this, one of the most prevalent types of music these days is hip-hop. Music also becomes more visual by means of the music videos that come with it. However, it is quite noticeable that African-American women are degraded and are perceived as mere objects of sexual desire in these hip-hop music videos. In order to support this claim, the succeeding paragraphs will tackle the three important areas in these hip-hop music videos. First, it will give due attention to the context of hip-hop music as it pertain to African-American women.
Second, the paper will also discuss the way by which African-American women are regarded as mere commodities of sexual pleasure. Third, an analysis will be made as to how African-American women are degraded because of their portrayal in these music videos. Lastly, the paper will look at the effect of this kind of situation to African-American women. Context of Hip-hop Music in Relation to African American Women Hip-hop music is largely related to rap music as the former usually includes rap in their musical composition. Rap music is recognized as a genre that originated out of slave spirituals, blues, jazz, and “soul”.
This is regarded as a musical expression of African-Americans that could be rooted back from their traditions and has been passed on to the next generation. In contrary to its origin of being a slave spiritual, rap music nowadays portrays people of color that emphasizes Afrocentricity and colorism. Previously, slave spiritual gives importance in the rights of the slave as a unique race but at the present time rap music is creating a different stand wherein they tend to adhere to the western ways not only in their behavior but even in their standard of beauty.
Rap music often explicitly gives their definition of beauty, which affects the way by which African-American women regard themselves. This is supported by the findings of a research that pointed out that the standard of beauty in this rap music is “represented by Eurocentric features such as white skin, blond hair, blue eyes, as well as youth, and low body weight” (Conrad et. al 136). African-American women who have Afrocentric features are discriminated because they cannot conform to this standard of beauty which also pressures them to become more Eurocentric looking to be accepted.
African-American Women as Objects of Sexual Pleasure A wide range of messages have been found to exist within this kind of music and most of them tend to portray negative conduct. Some of the untoward behavior that rap music often propagates is the idea of violence, sex, and substance abuse. Furthermore, rap music also gives much importance to the idea of wealth. Musicians who are involved in the creation of this kind of music have this mentality that living a good life means having lots of money that could be material things like cars, gadgets, and many others.
It also has to be noted that the idea of a good life always involves having women at their side. In most hip hop music videos, African-American women are the one who portrays the role of being with the famous singer who behaves very seductively and sexually towards the male protagonist of the video. This is clearly seen in the way that “these women perform erotic moves as the camera zooms in closer to their hips, buttocks, and breasts” (Chung 35). In this sense, women are seen as a mere part of the successful life of men.
Women are regarded as a mere possession of men just like the other materials things that they could buy and their role is that of someone that could give sexual favors for men. This is proven by a research that shows “music videos often differ in their portrayals of men and women . . . . [S]pecifically, women are often depicted in positions of submission to men” (Conrad et. al. 137). This idea is further supported by another study that explains: “[I]n such a hip hop scene, the female body is the target of the male gaze, which objectifies women’s bodies as sexual trophies” (Chung 35). Degradation of African American Women
African- American women are degraded in these hip-hop music videos because they are not given the right recognition and importance for their identities as human beings and as African Americans. Hip-hop music videos portray African American women as mere objects of sexual gratification wherein in this sense women are once again taking the lesser role because they are female. This is quite observable in the way African-American women are depicted in hip-hop music videos wherein “women play a subordinate role by catering to the sexual needs of men to survive in a male-controlled arena” (Chung 35).
Moreover, African-American women are also degraded because of the fact that there race is being regarded as inferior as compared with the westerners. In this sense, African-American women have to experience the pressure of conforming to the Eurocentric concept of beauty in order for them to fit in. Nevertheless, this should not be the case as they have to be comfortable with who and what they are but sometimes this is very difficult to do especially if the media like hip-hop music videos are promoting otherwise. Effects of Hip-hop Music Videos to African-American Women
The influence of hip-hop music videos to African-American women is clearly seen in the way by which these women regard themselves. Nevertheless, the effect of these music videos do not only influence the way African-American women think but it also has affects their behavior. Based on a study conducted by Petterson and her associates, “the perception of portrayals of sexual stereotypes in rap music videos may cultivate a norm among African American females regarding the desirability of certain physical characteristics and sexual behaviors” (Petterson et al.
, 1162). These music videos greatly affects the sexual behavior of African-American women especially those in the adolescent stage because they have this belief that these music videos exemplifies what women like them should be and this involves being sexually active. In line with this, the sexual behaviors that African-American women have also pose substantial risk to their health because they could acquire diseases from it.
As the study shows “the prevalent sexualized images of young, attractive African American females in rap music videos may serve as models for engaging in sexual behavior with multiple partners, an act associated with an increased risk of exposure to STDs, including HIV” (Petterson et al. 1162). Being the case, hip-hop music videos should properly screened in order to prevent sending negative messages that affects the well-being of African-American women. Works Cited Chung, Sheng Kuan. “Media/Visual Literacy Art Education: Sexism in Hip-hop Music.
” Art Education 60 (2007): 33-38. Conrad, Kate. , Dixon, Travis. , and Zhang, Yuanyuan. “Controversial Rap Themes, Gender Portrayals and Skin Tone Distortion: A Content Analysis of Rap Music Videos. ” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 53 (2009): 134-156. Petterson, Shani. , Wingwood, Gina. , DiClemente, Ralph. , Harrington, Kathy. , and Davies, Susan. “Images of Sexual Stereotypes in Rap Videos and the Health of African American Female Adolescents. ” Journal of Women’s Health 16 (2007): 1157-1164.Sample Essay of StudyFaq.com