Music is a concave mirror perched in front of society. It reflects back the societal aspects with which it is presented. Yet it has a specific focus that leads to occasional visual and conceptual distortion. Additionally, this musical mirror allows the observer to determine the moral aspects of a society by observing its reflection. Nevertheless, the obvious distortion of opinion must be acknowledged and interpreted when observing the way music portrays society. Ultimately, this mirror can reveal great truths about a society and influence the society’s opinion of its own actions. Furthermore, talking of music’s impact on a large unit like society is depersonalizing. Individual experiences of musical events best demonstrate music’s true influence on individuals in a society.
Music and music videos direct a large portion of their viewpoints toward gender. Gender stereotypes are a common tool utilized by the music industry to sexualize content and attract audiences. My personal introduction to this dynamic between music and gender occurred when I was approximately twelve. I watched music videos like “Dance, Dance” by Fall Out Boy that depicted the erotic male-female relationship. These videos focused on women as luring sirens whose mere movements act as an aphrodisiac. Women were portrayed as objects for men to obtain and use. Although I would later contest this view, at the time objectification of women as a normative given was what I learned from these videos.
The perpetuation of the sexist centerpieces of music videos deeply harms society due to the nature of music. Music mirrors our society and is a portal by which we may experience other’s feelings. Therefore, emulation of musicians is a natural conclusion. I succumbed to these stimuli present in the music videos I watched. My adolescence was plagued with talking down to women. Also, my actions were compounded by psyche. I thought little about the accomplishments of the women in my life. I emulated men for their identity as hard working individuals who could dominate women. My basic issue during this time period was my inability to admire the accomplishments of intelligent women around me. This resulted from many factors. One of these factors was indeed my exposure to sexist portrayals in music videos.
Retrospectively, I have reassessed my view of these videos and my opinion on gender roles in music videos. Furthermore, I realize why I accepted the ideology of objectification of humans due to my understanding of the underlying motives of such videos. “Dance, Dance” and other music videos depict the female character as the siren who draws in the male character. Also, the male character feels a sense of accomplishment after “obtaining” the women he sought. These roles both reflect society’s misguided assumptions of human relations and project these beliefs onto their viewers. For this reason I was convinced that objectification was an acceptable norm. Nevertheless, I now see past these illusions.
The dynamic of a concave mirror is that any individual looking into it will see a different distortion of the image at different points. I viewed the expression of gender in music through two distinct vantage points. First was my early experiences with music videos where I saw their sexual expression of females as an accurate depiction of societal norms. Second was when I became aware of the distortion and saw the upright image at the focal point of the mirror. I realized that women are key contributors to society and not just objects. Music is an art that depicts and influences society while incorporating comments about gender and other topics. Nevertheless, the way we interpret music is essential toward the message we receive from it.