Shakira recently released her new music video for the song Can’t Remember to Forget You, featuring Rihanna. Both women are seen smoking cigars, laying in bed together, holding each other suggestively. No doubt it is these images that have people talking, not the song itself that seems ironically forgettable. Was this a strategic career move by Shakira? I couldn’t help but think that it was an attempt to keep up with other female artists like Rihanna herself, Miley Cyrus, Beyonce and Britney Spears, who have recently taken their sexy images to a whole new level. Some have defended them by claiming that they are simply unashamed of their sexuality and that they are even empowering women.
Beyonce in particular has been very vocal about feminism, recently writing an open letter featured in The Shriver Report, addressing the issue of equal pay for women. Surely she would care just as much about other issues affecting women, such as domestic violence. Yet in her single, Drunk In Love, her husband Jay Z trivializes it, as he says: “I’m like Ike, Turner,…… now eat the cake Anna Mae, said, eat the cake, Anna Mae”. Beyonce happily sang along to this at their recent Grammys performance. This quote was taken from the movie; What’s love got to do with it, that depicts the harrowing abuse Tina Turner suffered at the hands of her husband, Ike Turner.
Beyonce also repeatedly makes reference to a sexual position in this song. I cringe at the thought of young girls repeating these lyrics. She claims to have their best interests at heart when it comes to gender equality. But what her actions teach is that, to get ahead as a woman, you have to be overtly sexy. Being sexy apparently means dressing up like you’re auditioning for a chance to be America’s Next Top ‘Stripper’. She wore very little for her Super Bowl performance last year, but this year, when a man performed, he didn’t have to go to such lengths to entertain people. Bruno Mars and his band were covered from head to toe, wearing suits. He didn’t have to prove that he was proud of his sexuality by being provocative and putting on a racy performance. Beyonce claimed in her open letter that ‘gender equality is a myth’. Well in relation to the music industry she may have a point.
It appears that male artists don’t have to go to the same lengths to sell records or get attention. So when these female performers objectify themselves on stage and in music videos, they couldn’t be further behind their male counterparts. Feminists complain when male artists like Robin Thicke, have scantily clad women in their music videos. But many people fail to show the same outrage when female artists do the same thing. Now, I understand that not everyone wants to look like a nun in their music videos, but when female performers make music videos bordering on x rated, isn’t it contradictory to put them forward as an advocate for female empowerment? It is even more laughable to suggest that such behavior itself is empowering, because it reduces women to nothing more than how they look and how little clothing they are wearing.
Need I say? The state of popular music is deteriorating at an alarming rate. It’s sad to see many female performers leading the way in this. There are a few left that don’t have to resort to such measures, artists like Adele, and Lalah Hathaway who recently won a Grammy. Artists like them are truly empowering women by keeping their clothes on and letting their talent speak for itself. They do it with no fuss, and although their videos may not get as many views on YouTube, at least the integrity of their music is still in tact.