Attitudes Towards Women & Sexist Music

Gyms, clubs, pubs, stores, movies, TV, Facebook, Youtube… and the list goes on. Popular music is part of our everyday life whether we actively choose to interact with it or not. The question is what kind effect can it have on people? More specifically what kind of effect can it have on males and the way they see women?

These music videos regularly feature women in bikinis or skimpy clothes hanging off fully clothed men as they rap or sing. They are simply decoration or eye candy for the audience to gain attention, and online traffic. They place a lot of emphasis on how women look; objectifying them rather than treating them as equal, intelligent counterparts. This objectification of women in music is sending the wrong message about how women should be treated and viewed.

Pitbull surrounded by bikini clad women in his music video.

study published in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media in early 2011 examined the  impact music videos had on the sexual beliefs of college aged males. The article referenced a previous paper by Jhally that stated “music videos are often constructed around the “pornographic imagination,” in which women are seen as sex symbols that simply must have sex and will submit to any fantasy that a man may have.” Women are simply there to play out the desires of the male audience. This is a fantasy that has real world consequences as it can influence the way men relate to women. The study exposed the men to music videos that sexualised women to various degrees. It concluded that the sexualisation did influence the male college undergraduates perceptions of females negatively in the short term. It showed that being exposed to music videos that sexualise women and endorse sexist ideas can influence mens attitudes towards women.

Another study reported in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that exposure to sexism in rap music can influence males attitudes and the way they interact with the opposite sex. An article published on the study interviewed Dr Cobb on the findings. ‘”Rap is not causing people to be sexist,” said Dr. Michael Cobb. “It’s priming sexist attitude and it pops up when we’re stimulated. It’s a temporary attitudinal effect. It simply means they’re more likely to endorse sexism.”‘

Whether or not music is the cause of sexism amongst young males, both studies show that popular music has some influence over their attitudes towards women. If there is one thing we can conclude from these studies it is that until artists start showing women as equals, and not simply as body parts these attitudes towards women won’t show any positive change.

Do you think popular music is influencing the way young males in their late teens and early 20’s interact and relate to women?



One thought on “Attitudes Towards Women & Sexist Music

  1. unswlivemusic

    A really great blog post! I think that popular music nowadays not only can influence the way young males in their late teens and early 20s interact and view women, but through the objectification of women in the music videos targeted towards male audiences, it magnifies this sexism in society through the lens of a camera. I think that it is true within the media when they say that “sex sells,” because without these music videos with scantily clad women, the target audience would not pay attention to them, and therefore not sell as much. I think it would be a very different music industry if women were shown fully clothed in music videos and not used to a way to sell sex. I think the music industry has this notion of thinking that male audiences constantly want to see women in a certain way, but the media ultimately has the power to represent women in this way, so by changing the way women are shown, this can have a dramatic effect on they way young male audiences interact and relate to women.


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