The objectification of women and the pop music industry

Objectify Me from Behind

“Sex sells”. We’ve heard it over and over again. Apart from advertising, nowhere else does this phrase ring truer, than when it comes to music videos.

Google “female objectification in music videos”, and you’ll receive a plethora of links, ranging from the serious scientific surveys to the more playful ‘list of the sexiest female videos of all time’. Two of the links which caught my eye are a scientific study and one which speaks about empowerment in female music videos.

The study reveals the whole “watch violence on TV and you’ll become violent” conclusion. It was discovered that young men who watched music videos of highly objectified woman, tended to have antagonistic sexual beliefs and more acceptance of interpersonal violence.

The post on empowerment is interesting, in that it puts a positive spin on female objectification and sexuality in music videos. It states that the depiction of this can be a means of deriving power. Four subsets are identified, power in:

  • Vulnerability
  • Sexuality
  • Self-assertion
  • Message

These four subsets can overlap depending on the particular video and artist in question. Moreover, this way of looking at music videos is more meaningful than simply resorting to – “she wanted to be sexy”.

If “a picture is worth a thousand words” then a Gif is worth more. So, before we get to the videos, let’s look at ‘female objectification in music videos’ in Gifs.

Lesson in angles – Partition

Secret handshake – Can’t Remember to Forget You

Objectify me from behind – Blurred Lines

Red-light district – Bandz a Make Her Dance

Strapped in – Lay it on Me

Pow! – Love Sex Magic

Music Videos

Partition – Beyoncé

Said by Beyoncé herself, “If you got it, flaunt it” (Check On it).

Strangely, I feel the overt eroticism in this video is acceptable. I guess because of Beyoncé’s age and the fact that the ‘male gaze’ in the video is that of her husband.

Can’t Remember to Forget You – Shakira ft. Rihanna

I echo the views of certain YouTube commenters: “this video is the closest you can get to porn – without it being porn”. Don’t get me wrong. It is a beautiful music video, with the opulent mansion and that bed. Those black and white stripes make for a beautiful composition.

(Music) stars and stripes

Did I forget to mention, the video also features Shakira and Rihanna showing off their assets… financial assets I mean. What with that mansion and what not…

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke ft. T.I & Pharrell

A post on “female objectification in music videos” will not be complete without mentioning Blurred Lines.

The whole saga which followed its release – the video being banned in places and having Feminists up in arms – proves that there is a line, which this video and its accompanying lyrics crossed.

Bandz a Make Her Dance – Juicy J ft. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz

This video represents women as moving ornaments to look at. It pushes the boundaries of objectification, by depicting women as strippers.

It’s quite sad that as a society we have come to expect this of Hip-Hop and R&B music videos.

Lay It on Me – Kelly Rowland ft. Big Sean

In this video Kelly uses her sexuality to gain power – she sits on a chaise longue made of men, if that isn’t power…

Chaise longue of men

The depiction of male objectification in Lay it on Me cannot be ignored. It is a major part of the video. It will be dealt with in the next post.

Love Sex Magic – Ciara ft. Justin Timberlake

Ciara’s music videos are known to be quite sexual; Love Sex Magic is no exception.

Her wardrobe, dancing and interactions with Justin Timberlake clearly mark this as a video which serves the ‘male gaze’.

In Conclusion

“Sex sold”, “sex sells” and for the foreseeable future I say “sex will sell”. However, the boundaries and limitations of this, is constantly being tested and shifting.

This range of videos shows the extent to which “sex” has permeated the Pop music industry. Today it is difficult to imagine this industry existing without it.

Notable Mentions

Caged: Savage Female Sexuality

Leopard behind bars – Partition

Tigress in heat – Love Sex Magic

The “O Face”

Bey“O”ncé – Partition

Rih“O”nna – Can’t Remember to Forget You


Insert Freud’s phallic theories here — Can’t Remember to Forget You

Stroking her p****cat – Bandz a make Her Dance

Playing with his slinky – Lay it on Me

He has a big… trunk – Lay it on Me