These days feminism is a hot topic. You cannot bat an eyelash without hearing someone talk about the inequalities of women, and what is wrong with American society. And if you are looking for proof that women, especially in the music industry, are still not being taken as seriously as they should be, just take Beyoncé Knowles‘ MTV Video Music Awards Video Vanguard performance this year. The medley was incredible, but were people focused on that? Of course not. They were instead fixated on her outfit and her body, not what she was standing for. And she isn’t alone. Other women, such as Lorde, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift, and Gwen Stefani, are incredibly talented women who are constructed in media in an over-sexualized way, causing people to think that women are just objects to look at.
Take Miley Cyrus. Her 2013 MTV Video Music Awards performance was considered grotesque by some, and many others said it was degrading to women. The performance and Miley herself were both objectifying women with the help of a foam finger. Miley could potentially get some credit for expressing herself and not caring about what people say about her, though. That is something that all people, regardless of their gender, should work on.
On the other hand, some female artists are using their talents to help women’s images and, for lack of a better word, cliches. In Beyoncé’s song, “Flawless,” she talks about how important the equality of the sexes are with the help of Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In the song, Adichie says, “Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” Beyoncé and Adichie hit the nail on the head with that one, seeing as that is the common goal of many feminists. Positive expression without any degrading actions or words is the best way to use musical talent.
Women should be able to express themselves in any way that they want to though, just like men do. Did you think about the feedback Robin Thicke got from his joint performance with Miley on the VMAs? He was a married man at that time, acting just as inappropriate as Cyrus, and yet he got maybe a quarter of the negative feedback that she did. That was something that should have been talked about in the media, the fact that the feedback was sexist and one sided, not about how much Cyrus’s butt looks like a raw turkey.
Musicians have a certain power through their work. They can express their thoughts and opinions through their songs, which is a complete blessing. Many artists recognize this and understand the great power they possess and work with it, sending messages and expressing themselves in the best way possible. But the fact that some artists create images of themselves that are not as respectable creates controversy in media, which is exactly what society wants. Even though there are arguments and opinions in society about the bad that women are doing in the limelight, it is what fuels the discussion and the pop culture industry as a whole. So we have Beyoncé on one hand and Miley Cyrus on the other, but the two overly successful women are portrayed in media very differently. Each person has the right to express themselves in any way, but unfortunately society and media interprets things in the most extreme ways.