The Concavity of Music

Music is a concave mirror perched in front of society. It reflects the society it sees. Yet it 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, we must acknowledge that the image is distorted. Ultimately, this mirror can reveal great truths about a society. Furthermore, the best way to understand music is to consider a personal anecdote. Individual experiences of musical events best demonstrate music’s true influence on individuals in a society. My personal adolescence reveals a lot about music.

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. In this video a young boy is cast out of the popular circles in his school. They depict him as a stereotypical “nerd.” The women won’t even approach him and the men ridicule him. Nevertheless, he attempts to dance his way into a relationship or more likely a less binding interaction with an attractive woman. Whether or not this specific video influenced me is irrelevant. The ideas it promoted perfectly mirrored my childhood. I thought that personal appearances defined an individual, that gender created defined niches, and that women were objects to be obtained.

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. 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. My views first changed when I entered high school. I gained a better understanding of my faith by taking classes on humanism and existentialism. Although I am not preaching the philosophy of any specific religion, my discovery of my faith aided in my development. I learned the true benefits of equality in society and the harms of judging based off of appearances. This is not to say that music is the opposite of faith, but different viewpoints are always beneficial.

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.

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