By Mthabisi Onias Ndlovu
Music contributes in people’s lives in many ways. While some gets emotional comfort, others are being misdirected by the fake realities they see in the music videos they watch everyday.
Music, which to a larger extent acts as a socialising tool, mentors society and shapes the interpretations of reality can also play a negative influence that cultivates rebellion against normative lifestyles and belief systems.
Among the many influences of music that society witnesses is fashion, lifestyle and the sudden change of language accent among youths including issues to do with gender stereotypes.
A lot of young people nowadays enjoy listening to American hip-hop music, admiring the ‘sexy’ women in skimpy lingerie dancing next to guys smoking and drinking in front of a sparkling Bugatti. One thing young people miss from those explicit American videos is the symbolism that reinforces gender stereotypes and not the good life picture they admire.
A lot of Hip-hop music videos often depict women in degrading ways that is far from reality. In these videos women are over sexualised in their dressing and dance moves.
They are also objectified, portrayed as subordinate to men, with outward appearance seen more imperative than their intelligence, opinions and contributions. These videos also portray them as sexual beings that are immoral and are brainwashed into thinking this kind of behaviour is good when they are actually selling themselves short.
One hip-hop musician known as Trip Lee, recently posted on his Facebook page sparking a conversation when he said, “I’m tired of seeing commercials and music videos where women are treated like props instead of people.”
Social media users responded in support of the celeb’s dissatisfaction saying woman should also play a role in deconstructing such stereotypes by avoiding to present themselves as props.
The trend has not only influenced behaviour patterns in youths but has also been adopted by local dancehall artistes who besides promoting drug abuse and violence are also going a step further to show semi naked women gyrating in front of men.
It seems in this generation a music video without some women dancing around in it, even if the song has nothing to do with women and girls, won’t sale.
While gender stereotypes have always existed in our society, one would expect music to counter and educate people against it but in this case it is even promoting and amplifying thus doing a disfavour to societal development.
Some of these gender stereotypes, among many others, include the portrayal of women in music videos as playing a less significant role reduced to fulfilling men’s needs like in one of Buffalo souljah’s recent videos with former Big Brother representative, Maneta Mazanhi portraying such a role in the song ‘Soja Riripo.’
The effects of such videos are then felt in real life with women and girls being forced in some way and expected to perform the roles prescribed by those videos.
It is important that parents and society play an effective role in monitoring what their children consume from early stages and socialise their children to grow up valuing the role women play in our societies in a respectably fair manner that we would all wish to see our daughters being represented.