This decade will go down in all the history books as a turning point for feminism. For all the wrong reasons.
For years, women have been fighting against male objectification of the female body. Mass media censorship, education for girls, sexual harassment clauses and the right to vote have all greatly empowered women and shown men the importance of gender equality.
Most recently, the music video of the single “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke was heavily criticized for the blatant patriarchal messaging. The role reversal parody of the video got four million YouTube hits, and a fair share of articles ridiculing Robin Thicke made their rounds on the Internet. As a woman, it pleased me greatly that men couldn’t just disrespect women and get away with it anymore.
But after decades of rebellion, education, struggle and sacrifice, women are now faced with a new, unforeseen, solid barrier. If you think about it, perhaps this was our biggest obstacle all along: other women.
These days, big-shot male artists aren’t the ones displaying the most sexist, provoking and demeaning images of females. It’s the women themselves.
Like most industries, the music industry — especially the hip-hop industry — is an extremely male dominated place. Artists like Jennifer Lopez and Nicki Minaj earned our respect by climbing to the top. Latina Lopez broke into the business at a time when Caucasian female pop sensations reigned supreme. Minaj showed the world that female rappers don’t have to be masculine or angry all the time. It is tragic to see that in their most recent video productions, both women thoroughly degrade themselves and the entire female population, and label it “sexy” and “art.” No one watching the videos can even remember the sub-standard musical content, thanks to the ample (pun intended) distractions.
Sure, there have always been women out there who show skin to get five minutes of fame. But these two ladies are at the peak of their success. As female role models of the 21st century, they are in a position where they could broadcast positive messages through their work, and millions of young people would gladly listen. Instead, they’re teaching girls to sell their bodies, and boys to view every woman as a piece of meat.
We third world inhabitants are still struggling with gender inequality, so let’s talk about just developed countries for now, who claim to have everything sorted. Historically, females were put into two categories: wives and harlots. Both roles were entitled solely to serve men: one by cleaning his house and having his children, the other by entertaining him. It was during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign in the 1500s that men realized that women were actually capable of making decisions. Fast forward 300 years of battle to the late 1800s and early 1900s, when women in the UK and USA were finally allowed to vote. It has only been 100 years since then, and look how we women have already started destroying our privileges, molded into place after centuries of blood, sweat, and tears.
A counter-attack often used by these women is that they are empowered women, because they have the freedom to express themselves however they wish. But is it really the wish of every woman to traipse around almost naked for the world to see? By degrading ourselves through indecent images and explicit lyrics, aren’t we actually succumbing to the wishes of men? Here’s a question to J.Lo, Nicki, and all those women who aspire to look and “wiggle” like them: how will men ever respect us, if we don’t learn how to respect ourselves?