In my advanced human sexuality class, we watched two videos today: Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex and Power in Music Video and Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. The two videos were very similar, so I’ll just talk about them in general because I forget which one featured what. One video showed how music videos can shape how we think about sexuality and men and women’s roles in the world.
The most disturbing thing was when the filmmaker showed images from the music videos and compared them to two different mass sexual assaults that took place in public areas. The filmmaker emphasized how the men treated women like objects in the music videos, doing whatever they wanted with the women, including pouring alcohol on them and grabbing and slapping body parts. One scene showed a rap artist sliding a credit card in the crack of a woman’s ass. The filmmaker then compared this with the mass sexual assaults that happened. It showed the men pouring different liquids on random women in the crowd and the men sexually assaulting the women.
The difference between the music videos and real life is that in the music videos, the women appeared to enjoy this treatment, and the women shown in the mass sexual assault scene were angry, upset, crying and traumatized. The filmmaker suggested that the men thought this was OK in real life because the women seemed to like it in the music videos.
Obviously, the filmmaker is making a dangerous point, and I think people often overlook what harmful consequences these music videos and music in general can lead to. The music and music videos can’t be blamed for sexual assault, but they’re certainly not helping men and women learn appropriate behavior and respect for each other.
The film also made the point that women appear like nymphomaniacs in many music videos and are always ready for sex and never say “no” to the men. This can create a mixed message for men, since this is not representative of women in real life, only in a “dreamworld.”
The filmmaker showed how some scenes from music videos appeared violent, and then compared them to a rape scene in a movie. He said the scenes were too close for comfort. I sort of disagreed with this, since in most of the music videos there was no explicit violence where women were being raped or assaulted, but again these music videos are promoting treating women like objects who can be used. Also, when the men in the music videos were acting violently toward the women, the women again seemed to enjoy it (at least eventually), which is complete BS. [By the way, the gang rape scene in the movie The Accused was horrible and almost made me cry. Especially the fact that the men were saying things like “See, she likes it!” while she was screaming “no” when her mouth wasn’t covered]
At first glance, this film seems to rationalize violence against women by blaming it on music videos, or even demonize hip hop and popular music in general, but the real message seems to be that we need to be careful what we watch and scrutinize the messages these artists and record labels are trying to send. The filmmaker pointed out that all the record label owners were men at the time of the documentary, and the music videos all focus on apparently men’s fantasies and female bodies (remember, the only purpose of women in these music videos is for men’s pleasure). This is not just entertainment. Could this be contributing to the 1 in 6 American women who are victims of attempted or completed rape? Maybe so.