Twerking is defined as a type of dancing in which the dancer, usually a woman, shakes her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion, causing the buttocks to shake, “wobble” and “jiggle”. Now that I have your attention, we can talk about why music videos portray black women as exotic sex objects in all genres of music. From Miley Cyrus to Diplo’s known duo “Major Lazer”, pop promos have become filled with sexualized representations of minority women. The black woman’s “butt” has been considered a distinct point of fascination for centuries. Just look up Sarah Baartman. She was the most famous of at least two Khoikhoi women who were exhibited as a freak show attractions in 19th-century Europe under the name “Hottentot Venus”. Baartman was exhibited first in London, entertaining people because of her “exotic” origin. Because she had unusually large buttocks, Baartman travelled from South Africa to London and ultimately to France to showcase her body. From there, there has always been some fascination for black woman’s “butts” in the music industry today.
In most music videos, women are usually depicted as objects that are sexually available for men at all times. In recent times, the preoccupation continues today by our very own Miley Cyrus at the recent VMA party. Miley Cyrus went on to be the accessory in Robin Thicke’s performance while she herself was sexualized, where she in turn sexualized the faceless black women with a strong and intentional focus on their behinds.
A perfect example of the way black women are portrayed is found in the video for Major Lazer’s Bubble Butt. It depicts a giant alien-black-woman coming down from the sky and inflating the buttocks of three white women, via the anus, with tentacles produced from her mouth. Sounds crazy? Just check out the video here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR-NXv5Tma0
Major Lazer produced this song featuring Bruno Mars, 2 Chainz, Tyga, & Mystic, all of whom are very big in the music industry. In the video, BME (Black Minority Ethnic) women, if present at all, become part of a homogenous ethnically ambiguous and eroticized group.
In many ways, inequality has thrived on social media. Gender and racial inequality continue to exhibit themselves in new ways. Now they appear to be considered fashionable, ironic, entertaining or even aesthetically highbrow. As a society, we must ask ourselves several questions. Do we care about the type of women girls grow up to become? Is their public image worth defending? Is their sexual integrity worth protecting? Fortunately, we can also use these platforms of social media to create a positive change. Campaigns such as the joint project run by the women’s groups EVAW, OBJECT, and Imkaan aims to encourage young women to speak out about racism and sexism in music videos via a multimedia website. These campaigns are the first needed steps in challenging the attitudes of the audiences looking at music videos from home.
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