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Exploitation of women in the

music industry
Billy Clayton
Females and the music industry
For many years, the music industry has designed, created and
manipulated the representations of women in media products such
as music videos, magazine photo shoots and live performances.
The need to create the perfect form of a female artist to sell as a
product to various demographics has highly spread over record
labels and agencies all around, thus, providing society with a crafted
view point on women. Because of this often hyper sexualised, overly
glamorised representation, the way we view women in a day to day
society has been damaged by the audiences needs to see a specific
type of slim figured, busty chest, hair-flipping female, and so a
negative archetype has been created, all for the purpose of money,
male pleasure and female desire to fit a man-made template.
History of Exploitation
In the 1920s all women were finally given the right to vote which
meant that prior to this point, a females opinion was dismissed by
men who were considered by society to be the intelligent sex.
Women were often put into arranged marriages by their fathers,
taking a female and turning her into an object of desire and purpose
to please.

Also in this time period, women were traditionally taught to take the
role of the housewife who could not work or feed her own ambitions
as women were seen only in the context of domesticity.
Examples of sexually-exploited female
In reference to the 1990s and
2000s, a vast amount of female
music artists have been made
subject to a record labels
demands, which relates to
Goodwins theory of music videos,
particularly point four which refers
to the medias need for a hyper-
female with memorable traits,
most frequently for the purpose of
male pleasure. The following two
artists are examples of media-
exploited women and how their
ethnic backgrounds affect the way
they are perceived.
Britney Spears
Britney Spears is an American Singer Songwriter who gained worldwide
recognition in the late 90s for her hyper sexualised, an all American girl next
door turned sex symbol status.

When her career began in 1998, a sixteen year old Britney Spears was
constructed by her record label as an innocent yet sultry sided teen
targeted at young girls aged 8 18 who enjoy bubblegum pop music.

The record labels need to create this stereotypical female star essentially
diminishes her right to display knowledge and opinions on serious matters
as she becomes recognised only for her slim, tanned body and teen-crush
themed lyrics. Not only this, but this representation has shown to trigger
behaviour, such as slut-shaming in some of the male demographic
towards women such as Spears for displaying a sexually liberated image.
This thus creates a negative representation of women as objects only of
male reliance and pleasure.
Spears, above shown with her trademark abs, a repeated focus in several music
videos including Im a Slave 4 U which can ironically be applied to her record label
associates. This and the repeated close ups of her face and focus on lips can be
applied to Goodwins theory; The demands of the record label will include the need for
multiple close-ups of the artists which may develop motifs which recur across their work.
Rihanna is Barbadian Singer and Actress who rose to fame in 2005 with her
Island Hip-Hop/ Pop sound and like Spears, a sixteen year old with fun
lyrics and a sexually appealing image.

Like Spears, Rihanna was marketed to a demographic of young girls aged 8
18 with interests in fun pop music and celebrating with friends. After this
traditional good girl with a sultry streak has been used by the label, the need
to push the artist into further depths of sexual exploitation occurs in order to
maintain sales and male appreciation. This makes Rihanna a sex symbol
memorable for her seductive image and revealing outfits. However, again,
the record labels manufacturing of the image over content, obscures the
audiences perception of the artist, as the focus is primarily image based.

Rihannas signature changing hair throughout the years can be applied to Goodwins
Theory; The artist may develop motifs which recur across their work. However, unlike Spears,
Rihanna has found herself the victim to harsher criticism for her sexual exploitation due to her ethnic
background of Barbadian-Black. Because she is of a black ethnic background, she is more victimized
to slut-shaming and objectification by society due to negative stereotypes of black people, which
to this day, still has not passed unfortunately, allowing Spears and other female white Americans to
subliminally receive white privilege in their exploitation.