Gender bias clearly exists in hit song lyrics

Alyssa Cravens, Staff Reporter

Our culture has made leaps and bounds toward recognizing women as equal members of society, especially within the last few years.

Yes, we have certainly come a long way from the time when women could not work outside of the home, exercise the right to vote or step foot into bars and clubs, but some customs seem to have engrained themselves so deeply in our history that we fail to realize they have no place in the modern world.

There are more than a handful of hit songs on the radio that degrade women and endorse the idea that they are nothing more than objects.

In fact, it seems a large amount of pop, rock, hip-hop and rap lyrics by men and women alike orbit somewhere in the controversial domain of sexuality and abusive relationships; however, female artists often face more backlash and shaming than male artists.

I’m not going to waste my time giving a ton of examples because there are just too many to choose from; I will let the fact that songs such as “I Love it” by Kanye, “Animals” by Maroon 5 and “99 Problems” by Jay-Z are well-known and praised hits, while songs like Rhianna’s “S & M” and Kesha’s “Gold Trans Am,” while still hits, earned them the labels as “sluts,” “whores” and “sex-obsessed maniacs.”

It’s important to recognize the difference between the songs here: Women are singing about taking ownership of their own bodies while men are singing about taking ownership of women’s bodies.

Maybe it is rooted in our intense inability to openly welcome change, but it is laughable to me that women are negatively labeled for singing about owning their sexuality when men have been quite literally singing the same song for decades without receiving any such depiction.

Songs written and performed by males about sex are generally applauded, accepted and associated with an entirely different mentality than those written and performed by females; male artists are perceived as powerful, cool and even heroic while female artists retaining their sexuality are named “filthy hoes.”

With regards to the topic at hand, the problem with many contentious hits is that they are not simply talking about sex—they are plainly spewing misogynistic anthems.

Artists love to defend their most controversial works of art by saying just that—it is art, and by definition, it is a way for them to express their personal feelings and emotions.

As an artist myself, I respect that and believe artistic freedom is a wonderful and necessary part of the human experience.

A lyric expressing emotion is serving its purpose; a lyric such as Rick Ross’s “put molly in her champagne, she ain’t even know it … I took her home and enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it” is expressing an action—an illegal and vulgar one at that.

We have come a long way as a society, and I feel now more than ever artists are being held accountable for their derogatory works. We no longer live in a country where men can say whatever they want and not be held accountable.

Artists, just like everyone else, are entitled to say what they are feeling, whether that be sadness, anger, frustration or authority, but just like everyone else, they must also face the consequences of their words.

This is a struggle for power more than anything.

Contrary to popular beliefs, it is not a genre, race or even a gender issue: This is an equality issue.

The bottom line is: Sexually explicit and belittling lyrics are not suitable in any sense, even if they are playing to the experience of human emotion.

Does that always make them right? No, but it is also not right to place a bias on lyrics written or performed by women that share the same vulgar characteristics as the ones accepted into society that were written and performed by men.

It is the job of us as consumers to decide which messages we are going to promote, who we are going to support and what kind of culture we are going to empower.

Alyssa Cravens is a junior communications major. She can be reached at  581-2812 or [email protected].