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Olivia Mitchell Influence of Music Videos on Young Girls “In engaging with the ideals of music videos and

simultaneously struggling to avoid them, black youth develop codes of conduct, beliefs and practices, selfpresentation and language styles,”(Richardson 806). Imagine, you are a five-yearold little girl and your mom is reprimanding you because of a note she found in your backpack about a boy in your kindergarten class. You wrote how you wanted to have sex with him. You honestly have no idea what sex is, but you see it and hear it on music videos. You watch the beautiful women in awe, wishing you looked like them, hoping that one day you will come to look as they do. You long to be desired as much as they seem to be by boys. Imagine growing up and reaching the sixth grade, all of your classmates bloom and grow into young women and gain the attention of all the boys. Do you feel the desire to be like them and the want for the attention? Imagine not having the bodies or the skin tone of what was and is considered beautiful. Wouldn’t you want to be like the women in the videos? Imagine not having the family to help build your self-esteem? Imagine having a family that encouraged the ideals that the music videos are teaching you? As you mimicking the dancers in the video, you are laughed at and cheered on by your mother and her friends. The constant scraping and chipping of your self-esteem drives you to continue to watch music videos, and envy the bodies and the skin color of the women that surrounded the men or had all of the men surrounding them. Do you feel tighten in your chest from the envy and the longing? I did. Ideals of music

videos and the parental encouragement of these ideals are influencing young girls’ self images and their relationship to sex. Now the question is what are the ideals of music videos? The most common ideals of music videos and the ideals that are most influential to young girls are sex, beauty, and materialism. A common misconception about negative ideals of music videos is that they are only demonstrated in the videos of male entertainers. The negative ideals from music videos are displayed in female entertainers’ music videos also. Female entertainers’ music videos are arguably even more influential on young girls than male music videos. This is true because young children tend to gain information about their place in society from individuals that are older and of the same sex as they are. Some would say that history is the reason that women in music videos are portrayed sexually, “...Even the most pornographic and sexually ‘revulsive’ images of black women on music videos can be viewed as staging a subversion of what has come to be described as commonsense black beauty” (Khan 268). During the times of slavery, women were viewed as dirty and unattractive. In an attempt to shed this outlook, women began to be portrayed as sexual objects, and it is because of this that sex has been portrayed explicitly and implicitly in music videos for decades. Most of the explicit sexually suggestive images were prevalent in the 1980s and 1990s. “Explicit sex…. this includes scenes in which genitalia or breast are being touched or bodies are touching and moving together in a way suggestive to intercourse” (Zhang 791). The women were used as physical objects and not as people. It was common for the faces of women in videos not to be shown. In Ice T’s I

Aint New To This and Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back, the women were nothing but their bodies. Ice T more than once put his foot on top of the woman’s behind and slapped it. Both videos emphasized the aspects of women’s bodies that are considered the most important to men, their breasts and their behinds. Implicit sexual images were most prevalent during the 2000s and are prevalent now. “Implicit sex… this includes scenes that suggest or seen to elicit sexual arousal and/or appeals to the erotic such as pelvic thrusts, long lip licking, and stroking”(Zhang 791). An example of this is in 50 Cents’ music video for the song Candy Shop. In this video the female initiates the sexual activity by ripping off 50 Cents’ shirt. In the relationship, the woman is less passive. Also in Trey Songz’s Love Faces the female is shown making faces and rustling around in the bed with the artists. Her character shows pleasure and lust during her sexual experience in the video. “The clear expressions of ‘woman hating’ in music videos include, but do not exhaust, the descriptions of women as sex objects, prostitutes, and mentally inferior people who have to strip their clothes off and dance naked in order to earn the commercial recognition of big business in the music industry” (Khan 265). In order to stay relevant in the music industry, Female entertainers subject to portraying themselves sexually despite whether they want to. Sex portrayed in female videos can be compared to the implicit portrayal of sex in male videos, but there are some female artists that explicitly demonstrate sex. An older example of this is the female artist, Lil Kim’s video for How Many Licks. In this video Lil Kim provocatively dances and the video contains many instances in which she is straddling a man and rocking

back and forth. In the majority of female videos the artists initiate sex or visually portray how much they like sex. Examples of this are in Beyoncé’s Dance For You, Kelly Rowland’s Motivation, and Ciara’s Ride. In these videos, the women dance very sexually and are ultimately teasing men with their sexual appeal. “In logistic regression analyzes, adolescents who perceived more portrayals of sexual stereotypes in music videos were more likely to engage in binge drinking, test positive for marijuana, have multiple sexual partners, and have a negative body image,”(Davies 1157). Sexually suggestive messages in music videos are influencing and corrupting young girls' views of their relationship to sex. At very young ages, young girls are taught that they must be sexual in order to gain anything in life. This teaching leads to inequalities in society, “ These ideas about sexuality (ideals about sex from music videos) are pivotal in the creation of interlocking systems of social inequality such as racism, sexism, classicism, and capitalism”(Richardson 790). In a study performed by Elaine Richardson from Ohio State University, four young women were asked to watch a music video, were interviewed, and had their conversations recorded. This was done to get the perspective that young girls have on the sexually suggestive images of women in music videos. It was found in this study that the girls accepted the sexual view of the women, “BE: I don’t think it is degrading to women. I don’t thing it’s degrading to women. It’s girls out here who strippers. It’s girls out here who really tip drills (A strip club argot for the performance ritual in which women dance as seductively as possible to obtain large tips). Know what uhm saying?” (Richardson 794). BE a young woman is saying that it is acceptable to have women in sexually suggestive roles in music videos because

there are women who are these women in actuality. The young women of this study also believed that the women who are less passive in the music videos are showing that they have power, despite whether they are being sexual, “ ED… the women had their little part in there too, and showed what we do to guys” (Richardson 797). Some artist are trying to set the right example, but because music videos that “deconstruct myths of the erotic-women-as-objects” come so few and far in between, they are not the dominant force when it comes to influencing young girls. (Shelton 111). “…Music videos tend to present a skewed and unrealistic picture of female bodies.” (Zhang 794). Arguably one of the most influential ideals of music videos, in accordance with young girls, is the concept of beauty that they illustrate. Most music videos have women that are exclusively of lighter skin tone, have long hair, big behinds, and big chests. The common job title given to these women are video vixens. A video vixen is a female of color or mixed ancestry who strips off her clothes, and is put into music videos as a prop, “Today’s bad black girl-video vixen imagery is linked to historic controlling images of the wench and the Jezebel. The wench was used to refer to an enslaved female, whose sexual behavior was deemed to be loose and immoral” (Richardson 790). Videos such as Lil Wayne’s Love Me, Lloyd’s Be the one, and R. Kelly’s Imma Flirt all feature women who possess those qualities, and all exclude any women that do not fit the criteria. Chris Brown’s Strip video shows another aspect of beauty that is demonstrated in music videos. This is the amount of clothing that is attractive for women to wear. In his music video, all the women are wearing nothing more than bikinis and underwear. This music video

and many more exemplify the idea that the less clothing a woman wears the more attractive and desirable she will be. Artists such as Queen Latifah often represent women in a way that is more realistic and respectable. Although there are some music videos in which women and their clothing are not skimpy and sexual, “Baggy jeans, work shirts, and winter jackets obscure the bodily attributes of the female sex while providing the woman with a strong physical presence,” the latter are dominating the media; therefore making the music videos with the different depiction of women, irrelevant (Shelton 111). The ideal of beauty and portrayal of beauty in male artists’ music videos is mirrored in female music videos. In majority of female artists’ music videos, the artists and any other women within their music video is made or selected to fit the same concept of beauty. They all tend to be of lighter skin tone, they all tend to have a coke bottle body shape, they all tend to have longer hair, and they all tend to not wear full clothing. Two examples of this are Cassie’s Me And You and Amerie’s One Thing. In these videos the women are wearing bikini bottoms, bikini tops, or both. “But sometimes black women themselves put their images in the firing line of criticism when they agree to strip their dignity and engage in lurid dances wearing thin clothes barely covering their private parts,”(Khan 265). This shows that this artist conform to what the view of beauty in their industry is. Young girls are learning from music videos that there is only one way that they can look and be attractive. They are taught that wearing false eyelashes, hair, and even getting surgery done on their bodies is acceptable as long as they are beautiful in comparison to the girls within the videos. During Richardson’s study she

asks one of the interviewees ‘what is a tip drill?’, “BE: With a ugly face and a big booty, a banging body. (Sings song: It must be yo ass cause it aint yo face),” (Richardson 795). BE’s singing of the song during the interview suggest that she has been previously influenced and introduced to the song before the interview, showing that it affected her. Young girls are also taught that the fewer clothes they wear the more attractive they will be to males. Many young girls wear clothes that is not considered age appropriate or adjust their clothes to look like the women in the videos. If you were to walk into you’re local target, you would find that some clothes that are shown in the junior section (crop tops, short shorts) can be found in the younger girls section in sizes small enough for toddlers. “Jezebel is manipulative and uses her sexual alluring nature to exploit men,”(Richardson). Money and luxury goods have always been common topics and visuals of music videos. These topics most commonly are associated with getting beautiful women, sex, and drugs. The relationship between the men and women in the music videos when the idea of materialism is portrayed in music videos is objectively one sided: the men have the money and the luxury goods, and the women around them use sex to obtain their money or luxury goods. In many videos, such as Lil Wayne’s Rich as F, Big Sean’s I Do It, and Swizz beats’ Money In the Bank, new cars, brand name clothes, and expensive jewelry surround the male artists. The women in these videos are treated just as the other objects that were listed, as ornaments that come when one achieve monetary success. “It is also ironic that in some female produced music videos, women have portrayed themselves in ways that perpetuate the images of themselves as objects,

financially greedy and morally reprehensible,”(Khan 264). The ideal of materialism in male music videos is also mirrored in the female music videos. In the female videos materialism is connected with men and their power. An example of this is in Teiarra Marie’s Sponsor. In this video, Teiarra Maria is the main character that is flaunting being spoiled by a man with monetary power. Young girls are influenced by music videos to believe that the only thing they should desire about a partner is what he has monetarily. This leads many girls to become a part of emotionally and physically abusive relationships. Also it leads girls to search for the males in their lives that have obtained quick money and not males who have worked to gain their monetary possessions. Girls are taught to believe that it is acceptable to use their body and their looks to increase their status and material possessions. They use men in exchange for wealth and the men use them in exchange for sexual favors. Parents of the young girls often encourage the ideals they obtain from music videos. The encouragement of these ideals that often contribute to the development of young girls’ obstructed views. Parents who sing along with these songs and conform to the videos ideas of beauty, materialism and sex openly in front of their children are teaching them that it is acceptable. Often in YouTube videos of young girls mimicking dancers of music videos, you hear or see an adult in the background saying, “Get it girl!” and screaming in encouragement. “…There are some black female American artists, such as Queen Latifah, who have consciously depicted black women positively, showing only how women can retrieve new modes of existence in song, fiction as in real-life experiences” (Khan 264). If their were more artist who

depicted women in a positive way, girls who were influenced by music videos would not grow into women who believe in the ideals music videos represent. And they would not become parents who encourage their daughters when they are influenced by music videos. This never-ending pattern is what is leading to the skewed view of women. Ideals of music videos and the parental encouragement of these ideals are influencing young girls’ self images and their relationship to sex. Watching music videos obscured my view of myself and of my relationship to sex at early ages. The ideals of music videos and the reinforcement of these ideals influenced me, have and continue to influence other young girls. Luckily for me I had what many young girls don’t, familial and other kinds of support. This support helped to rebuild my selfesteem. Being eighteen and able to look back at some of the decisions and feelings that I had about music videos, I can honestly say that music videos have had long term effect on me. The ideals within them have shaped the way I view sex and myself.

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