Media Research Project
Posted: Feb 21, 2019
Self-identification of being female or male is shaped through social and cultural conditions. Different forms of media often present these social or cultural aspects. As a result, they set the ideals for gender performance. It also becomes a fundamental tool through which individuals are introduced and encouraged to participate in a gendered world. The media plays a substantial role in changing how the world perceives different aspects of people’s lives. Individuals tend to internalize what they are exposed to. Eventually, it becomes the normal way of life. This means that the media has a very powerful impact on beliefs, culture, operations that shape societal structures. Dominant media such as music videos have played a considerable role in constructing gender. Media forms present codes that act as a representation of male and female attributes. The gender codes shape how society views gender and influence how the audience determines what is acceptable gender performance. Hence, it is through media’s reinforcement of gender codes and stereotypes that shape how society perceives and constructs genders.
As a result, the media forms set societal standards for genders. These forms shape how the society views and identifies gender characteristics. The gender stereotypes become the models for males and females to follow. For example, men may be constructed as powerful, aggressive figures with dominant control and financial stability. On the other hand, the media projects women as nurturing figures significantly concerned with family and the maintenance of beauty. Such gender assumptions may cast negative representations that may dictate how members of both genders behave and reach their true potential within society.
For this project, music videos have been selected as the form of media. The target audience for music videos is mainly young people from ages 15-35. The main audience mostly belongs to this group due to the upbeat style of songs and partly because of how the artists dress. This particular aspect often draws the male side of the audience. This group of the target audience is often the recipient of this type of media products. Men and women are portrayed differently in music videos depending on the genre of the music. Often, women are used as objects to display sexuality. This implies that they may be portrayed as skimpily to display sexuality and insatiable desire for sex.
It is important to study the representation of gender in the media as media plays a significant role in our everyday lives. It influences how individuals perceive themselves and the world around them. have an important impact upon people‘s lives and how people create their identities. It is highly improbable to think that the media does not affect people, their way of thinking, and the way they perceive the world and themselves.
Various researches have been conducted on how media influences gender. Different types of media have been used including television, films, music, magazines and more recently, the internet. A wide range of methods in has been employed in conducting the studies. A study by Anderson & Hamilton (2005) examines the stereotyping of gender roles in children’s picture books. The finding show that fathers were underrepresented compared to mothers. A study by Wallis (2011) investigates female and male nonverbal behavior linked to femininity and masculinity as displayed in different music videos. The researcher assesses how male and female lead performers in music video differ from one another. The findings show that female performers display more overt sexuality compared to males. According to Aubrey & Frisby (2011), R&B or hip hop music videos are characterized by more sexual objectification compared to country music videos. Hunter (2011) and Turner (2011) report that hip hop have transformed the act of sexual transaction. The major themes in these studies are sexual content and sexual objectification. The findings of most studies suggest that women are represented as sexual objects while men are portrayed as successful. While gender studies imply that gender concerns both femininity and masculinity, women are often discussed. Most studies portray the feminine perspective and rarely pay attention to how men are portrayed.
The sample for this study is made up of hip-hop/ Rap and country music videos that appear in the Billboard top 100 music. A total of 10 music videos will be used to compare how women are presented in a different genre of music videos. The sample is made up of fake love by Drake, side to side by Ariana Grande, let me love you by DJ Snake; I feel it coming by the weekend, shape of you by Ed Sheeran, Swang by Rae Sremmurd, Slide by Calvin Harris, Look at me by XXXtentacion, Goosebumps by Travis and party by Chris Brown.
Different genres of music were selected in order to compare the difference in how both genders are represented in the music videos. Both Hip-hop and country music have been around for centuries captivating the minds of many people all around the world. The hip hop genre has evolved entirely over the long run from its previous nature of "soothing the masses" to highlighting issues affecting the society to focusing on sexual orientation. How it is presented today plays a huge role in shaping the mental state of youth. When it comes to gender issues, music videos have expressed a new understanding of power and morals which influence self-representation of men and women. To identify this, a range of music videos belonging to different genres is important.
The major themes identified are sexual objectification and sexual content. The themes were identified before examining the sample. The researcher looked for themes before watching particularly. A content analysis was adopted as the method of study. Content analysis is a study technique that is employed to make valid inferences by interpreting. For example, by systematically evaluating videos, quantitative data can be converted into quantitative data. Although the method has been adopted by many social science scholars, it has become more prevalent currently among other scholars. In this regard, the content analysis allows the analysis of perceptual constructs and socio-cognitive constructs that are difficult to study using contemporary quantitative techniques. At the same time, it suitable when the sample used is large to employ purely qualitative studies.
The researcher adopted a purely qualitative research approach. It is a method that attempts to characterize the meaning in a given body of discourse in a systematic manner. The analysis is based on themes identified in the music videos. The researcher adopted this method since it’s the most suitable for the study. The first step in the content analysis involved watching the videos and making brief notes in the margin when relevant and interesting information. The second step involved going through the notes made in the margins and listing different types of information. The third step involved reading through the list and categorizing each item and offering a description of what it is about. The fourth step involved identifying whether the categories can be linked in any way and listing them in categories or themes. The fifth step involved comparing and contrasting major themes. The sixth step involved repeating the five stages again for each transcript. The seventh step involved collecting all themes and examining each detail. The eighth step involved reviewing all the themes and ascertaining whether they can be merged of sub-categorized. The last step involved ensuring that all information fell under one theme.
Two common themes of sexual objectification and sexual content emerged.
In hip-hop and R&B music videos, females are overwhelmingly featured in the sexual objectification of bodies. The content analysis suggests that women are commonly portrayed as sex objects through the use of revealing clothing or skimpy dresses that typically reveal a high degree of skin exposure. Body exposure is an obvious way through which sexual objectification is conveyed. In essence, the operationalization reflects a large amount of skin revealed by the artists. The most artists exposed cleavage, chest, legs, butt, back and stomach. This was coded by identifying whether the artist had a partially of the fully exposed body part. Full exposure was such as the abdomen or chest was not at all covered by clothing. Full exposure was common among men when partial exposure was common among women. Women in the videos often showed breast tissue or cleavage while the nipples were covered. The record also involved identifying whether the body took up the majority frame. This was coded even if the close-up was quick. This operationalization is in line with content analysis that defines sexual objectification as cases in which the focus is on isolated body parts, such as buttocks, bare stomach, a bare chest, cleavage in the absence of a focus on the rest of the individual. The first research question focused on the frequency of comparing between race and genre and close-ups of unclothed body parts. Another interesting finding is that women are not only sexually dominated by male artists but they also sexually objectify themselves in their own videos. For example, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj’s video is majorly female artists that sexually objectify themselves. Music videos in the country music genre did not have any scenes where artists sexually objectified themselves.
The content analysis shows that that only one out of the seven music videos contained sexual imagery. References to sexual activity are common in hip hop and R&B music where sexual references are more rampant. Sexual content also appears along with references to other risky behaviors. Compared to R&B, country music had significantly less mention of sexual activity, while hip hop music videos were more likely to contain references to substance use and violence and other risk behaviors.
R&B music has more sexual content possibly to help promote songs. Music videos artists help express what they really mean without being symbolic. In most videos, women are dress provocative why the male are often fully clothed. Videos go far as portraying women’s body being broken down to match the objects of a man’s need. Men are portrayed as superior if they have a woman. Mostly, music videos are unconsciously seen through a male’s eye. Whether they mean it or not, it portrays a sense of supremacy. This is perceived to mean that women do not have a voice in how music videos are presented.
Findings and observation
Today, commercialization in music has become a necessity. Music artists now use sexuality as an easy and quick way to attract a specific audience. As a result, the music industry perpetuates female and male stereotypes by portraying both genders based on their appearance. Music videos reinforce the stereotypical role of women through dancing provocatively or wearing skimpy clothing. This way, men are depicted as extremely dominating, masculine and have big cars and strong muscles.
Hip hop music portrays as violent and aggressive. These attributes are closely associated with cultural views of masculinity. For example, Drake’s music video portrays musician dominance over women. Through music videos, girls entering teenage visually view female as supposed to be shaped a particular way, dancing and behaving in undesirable manners, wearing specific clothing and get the idea that the social norm is to be like that. They also get messaged that women are powerless and objects.
Furthermore, more recent content-analytic work supports the notion that permissive objectification, sexual attitudes, and degradation are prominent in music videos. Many researchers have documented sexual objectification of female artist in two major ways. First music videos discovered that female characters are often in positions of submission compared to other characters in the video. The finding is similar to previous research suggesting that in music videos frequently appear to be placed in positions of sexual submission to their male counterparts.
The findings connect to lecture and learning materials in various ways. The message helps in understanding how gender stereotypes are perpetuated by media. According to a magic bullet or hypodermic needle theory, media has a powerful, direct and immediate impact on audiences especially when consumers are bombarded by precise messages. The theory views the mass media as a powerful tool that influences behavioral change. The elements that contributed to the strong effects of media on perception included the popularization of television and radio and the increasing development of persuasion industries including advertising. As a result, the media could impact a very large group of people uniformly and directly by ‘shooting’ appropriate messages to trigger the desired response. The needle and bullet are images that suggest a powerful and direct flow of information from the sender to the receiver. They express views on the media that the media an effective means of communicating an idea given that the audience is powerless in resisting the impact of the message. The audience is seen as passive and ends up thinking about the information they receive through media.
In today’s music, many music songs contain various forms of sexual reference. The music industry currently almost thrive on sex as the common saying "sex sells" certainly applies. From music videos to Internet streaming, it’s hard to escape the influence of sexually explicit songs. Previous studies have projected that young adults and adolescents listen to music for an average of hours daily. However, all the exposure to sexual content in music affects certain sexual cognitions of individuals in various ways.
Music videos have shown a growing trend in the objectification of women in society. Specifically hip hop and R&B, there is a strong focus on women as sexual objects. This may be detrimental to society as it creates social stereotypes that can result in unhealthy physical and social habits. The issue may have become prevalent because the more the music videos uses sexual content, the more viewers there is likely to be. Thus, it shapes the culture's sense of romance, dating, sex, and what is considered to be 'ideal' within society.
Dominant media such as music videos have played a considerable role in constructing gender. Media forms present codes that act as a representation of male and female attributes. The gender codes shape how society views gender and influence how the audience determines what is acceptable gender performance. Hence, it is through media’s reinforcement of gender codes and stereotypes that shape how society perceives and constructs genders. The findings show that music videos are likely to perpetuate sexual content and objectification. References to sexual activity are common in hip hop and R&B music where sexual references are more rampant. Sexual content also appears along with references to other risky behaviors. Compared to R&B, country music had significantly less mention of sexual activity, while hip hop music videos were more likely to contain references to substance use and violence and other risk behaviors. In hip-hop and R&B music videos, females are overwhelmingly featured in the sexual objectification of bodies. The content analysis suggests that women are commonly portrayed as sex objects through the use of revealing clothing or skimpy dresses that typically reveal a high degree of skin exposure. Another interesting finding is that women are not only sexually dominated by male artists but they also sexually objectify themselves in their own videos.
Wallis, C. (2011). Performing gender: A content analysis of gender display in music videos. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 64(3-4), 160-172.
Anderson, D. A., & Hamilton, M. (2005). Gender role stereotyping of parents in children’s picture books: The invisible father. Sex Roles, 52(3-4), 145-151.
Turner, J. S. (2011). Sex and the spectacle of music videos: An examination of the portrayal of race and sexuality in music videos. Sex Roles, 64(3-4), 173-191.
Aubrey, J. S., & Frisby, C. M. (2011). Sexual objectification in music videos: A content analysis comparing gender and genre. Mass Communication & Society, 14(4), 475- 501.
Hunter, M. (2011). Shake it, baby, shake it: Consumption and the new gender relation in hiphop. Sociological Perspectives, 54(1), 15-36.
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