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04 March, 2014

My foundations are shaken… Where do we go from here??

ASAP Rocky, Beyonce, Drunk In Love, Jay Z, Nas, Nicki Minaj, Pour It Up, Rick Ross, Rihanna
Keywords: ASAP Rocky, Beyonce, change, cultural appropration, culture, Drunk In Love, feminism, inequality, Jay Z, Misogyny, Objectification, Racism, racist, rape, Sex, sex object, sexism, Sexualisation, Stereotyping, taking action

I’m writing this because I’ve had a rude awakening and I’m sure I’m not alone. There used to be nothing I’d love more than a sequence of music videos to start the day. And don’t get me started on Beyonce and Jay-Z, or Bey and Jay as I liked to call them- I used to be filled with excitement every time I found out about a new live performance going up online. Once, I even had aspirations of becoming a video vixen (butt implant fund permitting). But things have changed for me now. I’m tired of seeing girls brainwashed. The music industry is messed up on so many levels, and everyone just seems to eat it up.

I’m 22, mixed race and have so frequently been put into a box, with men expecting me to behave a certain way and to like certain things. I’ve been one girl of many for some boyfriends and expected to put up with it or move on, with standing up for myself inviting responses like, ‘relax ma’ or, ‘you’ve got issues B’. In the past, I’ve been led to think. Wait, maybe I am overreacting, maybe I do need to loosen up, maybe this is how things are now.

I can’t help but feel that it is the media which is perpetuating this idea, hip hop in particular, and gradually it’s trickling down through pop culture. To me, the rap game is so disappointing; overrun with money hungry males who have a monopoly on power and wealth. It’s clear to see this from listening to the lyrics of ASAP Rocky (an artist I used to refer to as my ‘ideal man’) ft. Trey Songz, Same B***h, ‘I hit her then I quit her then I give her to my n***a’. Or Nicki Minaj ft. Rick Ross, where she moans submissively throughout, ‘I’ll do anything you say, anything, cos you’re the boss’. Nas said The World is Yours then featured in a video with Nicki- a woman who embodies the air headed, whitened, sex object stereotype which has come to represent so much of popular music nowadays. We live in a world where light skin is glamorised, where weave is a multi million dollar industry and where Beyonce and Rihanna are the most successful female artists. Their influence is unreal.

Celebrities are such incredibly powerful figures, yet the majority do nothing to attempt to change the current state of play. In our society, it can be argued that some popstars have more power over the global constituency than any politician. As well as this, the material they produce, whether we wish to accept it or not, has a continuing impact on the state of humanity. The way things are going, if Kanye ‘All I want for my birthday is a big bootied hoe’ West was to publicly discuss the global exploitation of sweatshop workers and human rights, I might start to believe he is the god he claims to be. Too many people in the public eye place emphasis on the status of others according to their wealth and looks and assets, and not their moral fibre.  It’s scary because right now they’re the most influential. Our society is materialistic as a whole and teaches us that the way to become successful is to acquire as many luxuries as possible. Why are we so obsessed with having stuff? Why is this idea spoon fed to us everywhere we go?

The Pour It Up video really sent me into a frenzy of despair when I saw it. Does Ri Ri, one of the biggest and most influential stars, or her people, not realise the implications her videos might have on the little girls who can easily access them? Or care? And what about the message it sends out to young boys- that this sort of behaviour should be expected from women? I can’t understand how it’s okay for children to so easily be able to digest messages about strip clubs and dollar bills? Or how a group of people can sit in a boardroom and agree on this concept for a video? What about Jay-Z, making reference in Drunk in Love to Ike Turner, a man famous for raping and beating his wife? (There is another amazing article on here which talks about this). I’m upset because these videos make light of potentially dangerous situations for the sake of publicity, they reinforce male power dynamics in society and normalise the idea of women as disposable objects.

I do have hope for change though. I can’t help but feel like this is why the 90s are making such a comeback; those years remind us of a more innocent time. In the meantime, people ask me why I don’t just ignore it all. Yes, it might be easier to turn a blind eye, but turning off my iPod wont turn off the ongoing problem. I’m sick of being told it’s a fad or I’m overreacting. I’ve worked, I’ve travelled, I’m educated and I’ve experienced the impact these videos can have on impressionable girls first hand. My opinion is valid. The change will come about from having our own identity and not being afraid to speak out. We just need to think critically about the world and what we admire.

About the Author

Written by Jessica D

Age 22

22, London

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