First of all, thank you to Sophie Jordan for letting me use the genius lyric of her creation above, as a title for this one. Soph has come up with some right gems in the time I’ve known her and that one has to be one of the best! It inspired me..
So its no secret that I’m not a Nikki Minaj fan. For me, she’s one of those ‘artists’ that there are far too many of now, who have no concept of their responsibility to the public that makes them so incredibly rich. Minaj, Cyrus and co. are quick to defend their soft-porn music videos and even worse lyrics by saying that they’re free to express themselves however they want, but think about it this way – these days no business would dare neglect to have a ‘corporate social responsibility’ department, and their PR and customer service teams are forever answering to anyone and everyone in the press and over social media. And quite right, the people at the heads of these companies are becoming very, very rich on the money that consumers are paying them for their products and services. So they should be answerable to the public.
So why then, does this not apply to pop musicians? Personally, I can’t see why they don’t have a responsibility to make their products appropriate to the people that they are peddling them to? If you want to be able to be overtly sexual and swear heavily in your live shows, then make your tickets subject to an age limit that reflects that content. Of course this won’t happen because the ability to sell out arenas and stadiums for 50+ shows would definitely suffer.
Of course, there is also a lot to be said for the fact that it is up to children’s parents what they allow them to go and see. And if those parents want to, they can check in advance what the content will be like, from previous shows.
But what I really can’t get my head around, is that those performances are being allowed on TV, on family shows such as awards ceremonies, and that the songs are all over the radio. It is becoming almost impossible for parents not to let their kids see and hear it, and swearing aside, the messages behind a lot of these songs are questionable, to say the least.
For example – when did it become OK for very young kids to be singing along to songs on the radio, with lyrics like this – “I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the motherfucking club, fuck you if you skinny bitches. What? Yeah!”
Maybe the swear words are beeped out, but it still gets the point across. And the point is that the only power that young girls have comes from the way that they look. Yes its good for young girls to know that they don’t need to be skinny, but its not good to teach them to insult girls who are. And its definitely not good to tell them that the reason they don’t need to be skinny is because its alright, men do actually find curves attractive! How about telling them that they don’t have to be skinny (or curvy) because, wait for it… the percentage of men who want to have sex with a woman, is not the only way to measure that woman’s value!
To look at another majorly annoying example, Beyonce is an incredibly talented singer, songwriter, businesswoman and Mother. So why in the video for Drunk in Love, released not that long after she gave birth to their daughter, does she spend half of the video draping herself mostly naked over her husband like a groupie, while he raps away, making no eye contact or any recognition that he knows she’s there? That doesn’t say ‘strong woman’ to me. And I realise that if anyone wears the trousers in that relationship, its probably her (and that in terms of their private life, it actually has absolutely nothing to do with me). But when it comes to their public image (which they are making their millions from) they do need to think about the images they’re projecting about healthy/unhealthy relationships.
Anyway I’m done ranting, so to turn this entry into something a bit more productive, here’s my list of a few women in the public eye at the moment who I think are really worthy female role models (and not just because men want to see them naked)…
1. Maryam Mirzakhani
Maryam Mirzakhani this year became the first ever woman to receive the Fields Medal, a major mathematics award nicknamed the Nobel Prize of mathematics, after it has run for 50 years!
2. Emma Watson
Emma is a successful actress of course, and is well known for being absolutely smokin! I think she deserves a mention for using her celebrity status to become a UN goodwill ambassador and for her involvement in the HeForShe campaign, encouraging men and women alike to consider gender equality issues.
3. Shonda Rhimes
This one isn’t just because she’s the writer behind the cinematic genius that was the Britney Spears/Zoe Saldana/Taryn Manning/Dan Aykroyd/Kim Cattrall/Justin Long 2002 movie Crossroads (maybe that’s a bit of a niche one, but it basically made my early teenage years). No, she’s also responsible for Grey’s Anatomy – which she first created after watching lots of daytime TV when she first adopted a newborn baby in 2002 – and is basically taking the world by storm as a writer and producer.
4. Gemma Mortensen
Still only in her mid-thirties, Gemma is Executive Director of Crisis Action, an international non-profit who bring together organizations across the world to help ensure that governments uphold their obligations to civilians during conflicts. She has won numerous awards in recent years for herself and for Crisis Action, and is seen as a real leader of change in what started out to be her own small way, but is now hugely effective across the globe.