Where Is The Feminism In Today's Pop Songs?

Where Is The Feminism In Today's Pop Songs?

We Don't Need to Prove We're "Worth It!"
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Over the past year or so, I’ve been noticing a lyrical trend in female pop songs. All that’s being sung about it how the singer wants, or feels she needs, to prove herself to her man. Of course, the way to do this is by making herself physically attractive for him, being complacent, and fulfilling his every sexual wish.

We’ve always known about the over-sexualizing and objectification of women in the media. Usually, though, it comes in the form of misogynistic lyrics from a male artist, or a gratuitous sex scene in an action film, or a clothing advertisement (or music video!) using a naked female model. It’s interesting, though, that even strong women seem to be supporting the idea without even noticing it.

Don’t get me wrong; it is perfectly fine and important to be sexy for yourself so that you are able to feel comfortable in your own skin. That’s where you get songs like Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, Nicki Minaj and Beyonce’s “Feeling Myself”, and Meghan Trainor’s “All About that Base.” I think where the message strays, however, is when the point of a song is to make yourself attractive for your partner. Then the qualifications of this desirability is dependent on their personal preferences rather than your own. On top of the lyrics, the music videos for each of the songs I will list are very sexualized. I see this as a very unhealthy message for girls listening all over the world. They look up to the artists I will mention below, such as Fifth Harmony, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and Nicki Minaj. But, what happens when your favorite female singer is telling you that the most important thing in life is making yourself sexy for a man?

The interesting thing is that all of the artists I will mention have been reputed as feminists, and they do have very empowering songs. So why are they straying now?

Some people say they don’t even listen to the lyrics on the radio, but don’t be mistaken, they are hearing them. The words are going into your brain and affecting your thinking, whether you like it or not.

1. Fifth Harmony: “Worth It”

Fifth Harmony is an upcoming girl band famous for their feminist songs like “BO$$” and “Reflection.” This song, however, seems to be sending a very different message.

Give it to me, I'm worth it


Baby I'm worth it


Uh huh I'm worth it


Gimme gimme I'm worth it


Give it to me, I'm worth it


Baby I'm worth it


Uh huh I'm worth it


Gimme gimme I'm worth it

Basically the theme of the song is that the girl wants to hook up with some guy at a club. She’s claiming that she’s worth what? The minimal effort it takes to go up to a girl and introduce yourself? So a conversation with Fifth Harmony is worth the sexual pleasure he’ll be receiving later? It’s not to say that this song isn’t extremely catchy, but a woman doesn’t need to prove her worth to some guy at a nightclub, especially when it’s clear the relationship is to be strictly sexual. She’s essentially begging this man to give her the time of day, because she’s “worth it.” Don’t beg, ladies. We’re better than that.

2. Selena Gomez: “Good For You”

Little girls have looked up to Selena ever since she was the star of Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place, through her film and music career. Selena hasn’t always written songs like this. For instance, “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” is very different. But we’ve seen her attempts to rid herself of Disney by acting in films like "Spring Break," a very sexual film. Although sexual confidence is a great thing to have, it should be for oneself and not rely on someone else.

Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight


Do my hair up real, real nice


And syncopate my skin to your heart beating



'Cause I just wanna look good for you, good for you, uh-huh

I just wanna look good for you, good for you, uh-huh


Let me show you how proud I am to be yours


Leave this dress a mess on the floor


And still look good for you, good for you, uh-huh

In addition to these lyrics, I think it’s important to watch Selena Gomez’s music video as well. She looks lost and almost drugged throughout the entire video--very sexually submissive. Her preferences and desires are irrelevant; it’s all about what “he” wants. Yes, it is important for your partner to find you attractive, and it’s fine to want your partner to find you attractive, but there’s a line. Perhaps if this was the only song I found, and there wasn’t a trend, Selena’s hit would be harmless. But added to all of the other recent songs of females promoting sexuality for the sake of someone else, it’s troubling. Look good for yourself, Selena!

3. Demi Lovato: “Good for the Summer”

People may think this song is inoffensive because it is about Demi’s sexual experiments. She may not be proving herself to a man, but a woman. This is irrelevant. You should never be dependent on your partner, regardless of gender.

Tell me what you want


What you like

Tell me if it's wrong

If it's right

I don't care

Tell me if I won

If I did


What's my prize?

Demi’s voice in this song is also important. She is a vocal powerhouse in all of her other albums, but in “Good for the Summer” her voice is breathy and weak, with the exception of one belted note toward the end. Is the goal to make even her beautiful voice more sexualized and “attractive?” The lyrics are riddled with the phrase “Tell me.” Demi is completely complacent in this relationship, relying on her partner to tell her what they are going to do (I assume sexually) and if the relationship is morallyright!” These are decisions a girl need to make on her own so that she can be comfortable in a relationship.

4. David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj: “Hey Mama”

This is the one that kills me most, because I love Nicki! And she has been a part of several feminist, empowering songs like “Feeling Myself” and “Fly” featuring Rihanna. “Hey Mama” is a very catchy song, but the lyrics are just repulsive to me.

Yes I be whatever that you tell me when you ready

Yes I do the cooking

Yes I do the cleaning

Yes you be the boss yes I be respecting

Whatever that you tell me 'cause it's game you be spitting

Make sure mama crawls on her knees

Keep him pleased rub him down

Be a lady and a freak

This song takes feminism back to its roots! Now, if a woman chooses to stay home to take care of her family and her home, that is her right and her work is unbelievably important. I have a sinking suspicion, however, that that’s not the point of this song. She literally says that he is the boss and she’ll respect him and do whatever she tells him! Not to mention the sexual innuendo that basically says her only purpose aside from cooking and cleaning and obeying is to please her partner with oral sex. One of the refrains is “Be my woman and I’ll be your man,” which alone is fine. But the rest of the lyrics make the role of a “man” and “woman” very clear, sexist and ridiculous.

Am I the only one blown away by this? If even our most powerful pop idols like Nicki Minaj are broadcasting this, what are impressionable girls supposed to think?

I have no idea why songs like this are being written and performed by such strong female artists, or how to prevent more from being written and performed in the future. But I think we should all be aware of what we are listening to every day, and do our best not to be impressed by it.

Cover Image Credit: justjared.com, http://images.latinpost.com, amazonaws.com

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