2014 has given rise to a new F-word – feminism. Not that the notion of feminism doesn’t predate 2014, but more and more it’s becoming a hot-button issue in the media. With artists either wearing it as a badge of honour, or running from it like a house on fire, there’s no doubt women’s issues have been at the forefront of pop culture media. These five songs are guaranteed to get someone on a soapbox. No matter what your views, it is the very act of debating that keeps music relevent.
Robin Thicke – ‘Blurred Lines’
This might be beating a dead horse, but there’s still merit in discussing the misogynistic overtones of this song and video. Whether you like or dislike the song, it’s clear that its popularity has caused a stir in the world of feminism. Not only do the lyrics perpetuate rape culture, but the video reinforces the idea that to be sexy, one has to be easy. Of course, the flipside of the vitriol against this video becomes slut shaming. There can be no thing such as blissful ignorance when it comes to Blurred Lines.
Taylor Swift – ‘You Belong With Me’
Despite recently seeing the light and championing the badge of feminism, there is no doubt that Swift’s major pop hit ‘You Belong With Me’ at best reinforces gender stereotypes (for men and women) and at worst perpetuates a false ideal of beauty and perfectness, a standard no one can realistically reach. Sure, it’s a fairy-tale in a song, but even Disney are learning their lessons about that.
That being said…
Idina Menzel – ‘Let It Go’
Whether you loved or hated the snow covered Disney film, Frozen it is a part of a positive new chapter in Disney’s classic cannon of fairy-tales. ‘Let It Go’ has sparked a slew of covers – parodies and emulations – and definitely shows a change in the trend of what it means to be a Disney princess.
Spice Girls – ‘Wannabe’
The most easily recognised pop song according to a study conducted by the Museum of Science and Industry study, ‘Wannabe’ put lyrics about prioritising female friendship into the mouths of every girl in the western world in 1996. Of course, the same women championing this idea were also doing so while scantily clad, definitely using their sex appeal as a marketing tool. It’s up to the listener to decide which aspect of the song is more prominent.
Beyoncé – Single Ladies
Queen Bey has become a role model for young women. Whether this is good or bad is highly debatable. Undoubtedly she’s proof of female power and success, but it’s also clear that sex and objectification of the female body plays into her music. Case in point: ‘Single Ladies’. The concept tries to be feminist (if you want me, you should make an attempt to be faithful and exclusive), but it seems the song misses this mark, and instead comes off as a song about possession. The very woman she’s talking about becomes ‘it’; if that’s not objectification I don’t know what is. Oh Bey, whatever happened to all the independent women throwing their hands up in the air?