Women are expected to achieve success using more than their talent. In February, Kesha leaked abusive emails received from her producer Dr. Luke, and whilst she is not the greatest vocalist, the demand for her to sell records as a ‘sex symbol’ is ever prominent. Why can’t female musicians be viewed as successful without shaking their asses? And why is it only those who succumb to sexualisation who are topping the charts?
One leaked email showed Dr. Luke stating that producers “are reluctant to give Kesha their songs because of her weight”. Many record label bosses are men who are turning women into brands, and it is rare to see a woman as a music video director. These issues are not only just emerging; at 17 – below the American legal age of consent – Britney Spears released ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ and the video fed men with the sickening fantasy of a ‘slutty schoolgirl’.
The rise of young female stars brings to light the growing risk of sexualisation in the industry. Camila Cabello, former member of American group Fifth Harmony, recently exposed her label for sexualising her. The band formed when she was just 15 and since then, their videos and lyrics have been nothing less than seductive. During a podcast with Lena Dunham in January, Camila said she had lost control over her identity and was pressurised by bosses to show her sexual appeal from a young age.
There have been arguments that men are just as sexualised, which is incorrect. As we all supposedly know, sex sells. Mainstream artists like Jason Derulo will stand under synthetic rain with their shirts unbuttoned to reveal their muscular physique. Nice. But what about the woman next to him? The one half-naked, kissing his neck, with the camera scoping up and down her body like a sad pervert. Recent statistics show that 37% of women in music videos wear revealing clothes as opposed to a feeble 4.2% for men.
We need more musicians like Adele. Women who may be shamed for their appearance but have the power to sell 10 million copies of their album within the first week, as opposed to every mother’s favourite role model – Nicki Minaj – who sold 253,000. Music should be about the connection between emotions, lyrics and sounds – not a way to promote the male gaze.