It’s a saying that is as old as time itself (well at least since people started buying things).
“Sex sells”, those are the two magic words that are used to justify just about every overtly sexual act that any musical artist does. It has however became increasingly difficult over the years, especially for female artists to become established musical artists without having to succumb to society’s pressure to be sexy.
It seems that we keep seeing the same things happen over and over again with female music stars. Start off the relatable good girl that all the little girls want to be and all the boys want to be with, then strip off your clothes and sell millions of records. Hey, it worked for Madonna, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus so why shouldn’t it work for you? British singer Charlotte Church recalls her experience in the music industry earlier on in her career when she was a teenager, she says: “There was a big clamor to cover my breasts as they wanted to keep me as young as possible. Then it became, ‘You should definitely get them out, they look great’.” This is a situation that many female artists have to deal with in order to stay relevant in the music industry. It seems that the only way for the public to remain interested in you, is to flaunt your sexuality and do something to “shock” the world.
Pimping yourself out for the music industry is something that many female artists are found to be doing in order to remain relevant and to sell records. This has been going on for years and now veteran pop stars are making it their mission to warn the younger stars of the dangers that could occur if these girls persist in this behavior. Pop veteran Sinead O’Connor even wrote an open letter to current pop sensation Miley Cyrus warning her of the consequences that might happen if she continues over-sexualizing herself. Sinead states “It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether it’s the music business or yourself doing the pimping.” Unfortunately, that’s what happens in the music business. People forget about your voice, and all of a sudden all they care about is your body and it becomes increasingly dangerous for these women as well as the young girls who look up to them. Using sexuality to express yourself is one thing, however it is a complete other thing when women are constantly being objectified in music.
It isn’t only the female artists that use their sexuality to sell records. Male artists use females as well to sell their records by objectifying women in videos and performances. Probably the most recent depiction of this theory would be the 2013 music video for mega-hit “Blurred Lines” by R&B artists Robin Thicke. Some bloggers have even deemed it as a “rape song” due to its raunchy lyrics which include “I know you want it”, as well as its controversial music video which has Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell Williams standing as herds of topless women dance around them. However, we can’t act as if this is the first time men have been using women as sexual objects in music. It seems as if every rapper raps about having sex with women and the more women the better. This begs the question, is this society has driven us to? Is the music industry doomed to continuously use women purely as sexual objects?
One can only hope that society stop enabling this kind of behavior amongst artists, and begins to appreciate women for more than just their bodies. Female artists like Beyoncé and Janet Jackson who have used their sexuality as power and positivity and shown that women can be themselves and don’t need to sell themselves out for anybody are the kinds of role models that little girls need.