The new music video for Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea's song Booty is the latest in a long line of clips that sexualizes women as mere objects.
WOMEN'S bodies sell. We all know that, but perhaps no industry understands this, and uses this knowledge to its advantage, more than the music industry. In the last few months there seems to have been a feminine flesh-fest, full of tweaking tooshes titillating their prepubescent viewers.
The sexualization and exploitation of women's bodies is all-encompassing. Nicki Minaj's hit Anaconda features dozens of women gyrating their exposed flesh to the lyric, "My Anaconda don't want none unless you got buns hun." Classy, isn't it?
Miley Cyrus created waves as she swung, completely nude, on a wrecking ball. Robin Thicke pushed beyond normal boundaries of decency with his pornographic and pro-rape Blurred Lines. This week controversy is swirling around Jennifer Lopez's collaboration with Australian superstar Iggy Azalea after their Booty clip was released. The star of the video? Women's derrières.
The clip features steamy, sexualized images of the two women in a puerile, porn-inspired dance - rubbing their backsides together. Come next week will there be another artist trying to make money by selling women's bodies? They might be masquerading as empowered femininity, but what are they selling?
These female artists are selling the message that women are nothing more than accessories. Women are only of value as sexual objects. My daughters and your daughters are taught to conform to this narrow sexualized, unhealthy norm.
The message is incessant. Our boys grow up believing girls are really only here to be a boy's "new thing". Girls accept that if they're to be valuable to someone, they'd better be "sexy". These messages are harmful. In 2007 the American Psychological Society issued a report on the sexualization of girls. They found "virtually every media form studied provided ample evidence of the sexualization of women". In study after study women are portrayed in overtly sexualised ways - vastly more than men.
What is this doing to our girls? The evidence tells us that exposure to these images increases anxiety and shame in adolescent and adult girls and women. Research also links sexualization to eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. Adolescent girls are at greater risk of unhealthy sexuality that may lead to sexual problems in adulthood.
Girls who are exposed to sexualized content are more likely to endorse gender stereotypes and place attractiveness as central to a woman's value. Boys who are exposed to this content are more likely to sexually harass females, and have inappropriate expectations of them.
So what can we do? First - don't watch it. If you see something that tells you that females are only valuable for their bodies, that they're only objects to be used by one guy after another, turn it off. Second - don't buy it. Don't spend your money purchasing the music or products that promote this objectification and sexualization of women.
Third - don't buy it. Don't believe, even for a second, that these messages are right. They devalue womanhood. They devalue you and they devalue your daughters. You, and they, deserve better than that. It isn't sex that sells. It is women's bodies. But what is being sold is much more than just the product on offer.
I am sick of trying to teach my daughters how much they have to offer the world, only to have everything I say undermined by the sleazy, unhealthy messages that someone with no respect for womanhood promotes to the mass market to make some more money. The wellbeing of our wives, sisters, and daughters is worth more than that. It's not OK.
The writer is a parenting researcher. www.dailytelegraph.com.au
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