Sexism in Music

How do we choose the music that we listen to? We could be affected by the music itself, the lyrics could touch us on a personal level, or we may have a predisposition to a certain genre of music due to the geographic area we live in. Our background and upbringing can even play a role in our musical choices. However we come to that ultimate decision, how many of us actually pay close attention to the language used in the songs that we like? Could it be that some of our favorite artists or compositions actually contain language that can be considered sexist or harmful?

Many people associate sexist language with the music genre of rap and hip/hop, but the truth is that sexist language invades every style of music. While it is true that the lyrics to rap songs contain the most obvious derogatory terms towards women, research has found that popular pop music also includes language that can demoralize women or make women seem inferior to men. Women are often referred to as objects and even as possessions by artists, implying that even in this day and age females are still second-class compared to males. Some artists compare women to cars, others use their words to enforce their male dominance. Regardless of how popular an artist or song is promoting sexist lyrics shows that as a whole the public does not have a problem with demoralizing women. Numerous male musicians even use this sort of language as a marketing tactic, knowing that their lyrics will cause a controversy that could inevitably boost album sales.

In 2010 Dr. Cynthia Frisby published an article in Media Report to Women about a research study that she conducted to find any correlation between music genre, artist gender, and artist ethnicity. Common slang terms used to de...

... middle of paper ...

... women. There are labels on music today that warn of explicit and violent lyrics, but there are none that advise listeners against language that debases women and that could possibly harm a person’s self-image. Every person has the right to speak their mind however they see fit, but if they can ban an album for condoning murder or rebellion against authority why can they not at least warn the public of music that offends an entire gender? Censorship of these words will not stop them from being spoken or written; only education about why and how they are used and how harmful they can be can bring about a change.

Works Cited

Frisby, Cynthia M. "Sticks 'n' Stones May Break My Bones, But Words They Hurt Like Hell: Derogatory Words in Popular Songs." Media Report to Women 38.4 (2010): 12-18. Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text. EBSCO. Web. 15 Feb. 2011.

More about Sexism in Music

Get Access