We have all sang along to sexist songs on the radio, completely unaware and distracted from the actual meaning behind what we are singing. These songs surround us in pop culture and aren’t necessarily confined to one genre - or one gender. Even if a song is recognized to be sexist, it will still be a hit due its catchy tune, and the meaning remains undiscussed among millennials. I can’t even recount how many times I’ve sung along to Animal by Maroon 5 before stopping to think “Wait. This really isn’t okay.” And I know I’m not the only one out there; I’ve had enough conversations with my friends and others to know that they are on the same page as me. This is problematic since we can’t begin to fix a problem that we haven’t yet recognized. In order to shed some light on the situation, here are some of the most commonly sexist songs that seem to go widely unrecognized as such, despite their constant repetition on radio stations.
1. Animal- Maroon 5
First of all, the whole basis of this song is dehumanizing. He is literally comparing her to an animal the entire time. He uses words like “preying” and “hunt” to deconstruct women into something animalistic. This clearly implies a lesser importance and an inferiority. He also clearly states that she “can’t stay away from me”; considering he makes it quite clear that he can “smell” her “scent for miles” and will “hunt” her down and “eat her alive” though, it’s not like she would have much of choice if she wanted to leave. All these things portray a clearly dominant and powerful male figure where the women is simply reduced to prey- something for a man to enjoy while he “eats” it (it not her) and nothing more. And don’t even get me started on the music video.
2. Wiggle - Jason Derulo
Do I even have to explain this one? Basically everything in this song is promoting a complete sexualization of the female body; and not only that, but he is demanding that women be sexual. For example, all that women should do with their butts is “wiggle.” Other than his obviously demeaning demands that she “misbehave” and his fantasies of wanting to “strip” her among other things, there are less obvious innuendo. For instance, he even starts out the song with the lyrics saying “Holla at her.” And as everyone knows, that’s how people love to be talked to and girls especially love cat calling.
3. Blurred Lines- Robin Thicke
For this song, it took me a while to even realize how offensive these lyrics actually are. The song outlines a guy, who is presumably on some kind of drug or is drunk, hence the “blurred lines,” that then meets a girl who he assumes to understand her “animalistic” and sexual nature. Here again we see the animal comparisons. Is it really that hard to understand that women are not animals and deserve to be respected like any other decent human being? And why is it that when she “grabs” him she “must wanna get nasty?” Maybe the girl just tripped and grabbed onto him by accident. You never know. Either way, a little consent would be nice. And this isn’t even mentioning all the devaluing words that are used to describe this women during the rap section.
4. 679- Fetty Wap
At first, at least for me anyways, it was hard to make out the lyrics in this song. All I could really understand was the chorus which doesn’t seem all that sexist- other than the reference to wanting to see her ass again. But if you listen, or look it up like I had to do, the rest of the song’s words are incredibly objectifying. The second line is literally “I’m tryna know if I could hit it from behind though”. The rest of it isn’t much better. The ending also suggests that they can do whatever they want to women when he says, “No one can control us.”
5. Talk Dirty - Jason Derulo
I didn’t want to incorporate two songs on this list by the same artist, but I found it hard to leave either of Jason’s hits out of this article considering how objectifying they are and no one seems to discuss it. Just from the title “Talk Dirty,” I think it’s pretty obvious that this is an incredibly sexual song. But it’s one thing for something to be sexual and another for it to be sexist. Here again we see a complete objectification of women. The songs plot consists of Jason flying around the world and hooking up with women everywhere. And with most of these women, he can’t even “speak the language.” But it doesn’t matter what they are thinking or could be saying anyways, what matters is their bodies. Afterall, he has her saved in his phone under “big booty.” The message of this song like so many others’: ultimately, a girl’s body, specifically her butt, is all that counts.
6. Hotline Bling- Drake
Now this song is not that obvious in it’s sexism and I probably would not have realized the innuendos in it had I not read an article that declared it as sexist. But it actually really is. In the song, Drake mentions that after his breakup with this girl, she “got a reputation” for herself now and that this reputation involves one where she now is “wearing less and goin’ out more”. He refers to her newfound freedom as a negative one which makes it “bad” behavior. His relationship with her and who she used to be, which involved her staying at home and being “a good girl”, becomes something that is labeled as “good” behavior. However, the reality of the situation is that his ex, and any other woman, can do whatever she wants to, and she should not be slut shamed by it. Heaven forbid the girl empowers herself in the way she wants to.
7. Hey Mama- David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack
It’s always sad when a female artist sings songs that play into the stereotypical gender roles, particularly when the artist has claimed to be a “feminist”. But it happens. And such is the case with David Guetta’s “Hey Mama” featuring Nicki Minaj. In the lyrics Minaj sings, she directly asserts that she will “provide” anything that her partner needs. And what’s probably the most sexist part of the whole song comes halfway through and states, “Yes I do the cooking/Yes I do the cleaning/Plus I keep the na-na real sweet for your eating/Yes you be the boss and yes I be respecting/Whatever that you tell me cause it's game you be spitting.” Wait, he’s the boss? You’re going to do all the cooking and cleaning while bowing to his every command? I don’t think so. This literally reaffirms power dynamics between the two genders and their roles. No one can be a feminist while perpetuating such beliefs, including Minaj.
8. God Made Girls- RaeLynn
As I previously mentioned, sexism is not contained to one music genre. While some country singers such as Maddie and Tae’s “Girl in a Country Song” expose and contest the traditional sexist stereotypes within country music, RaeLynn plays into them. In her song, she sings that girls were made to wear skirts, flirt, hold hands, make men dress up and basically anything else that would be considered “traditionally feminine.” Because that’s why God made girls right? To “let him drive” and “wash that truck.” Right. And the only time when she mentions that girls could be “tough” is when she is referring to how girls are tough enough to break a heart. So basically, any woman is purely based on emotions and men are completely the opposite. Typical gender binary system.
9. Dear Future Husband- Megan Trainer
This song is a bit more complicated. The lyrics portray more of an abusive almost slave like relationship in which the man is dangled around. The lyrics list off various needs and demands that Megan has for her future husband such as treating her like a lady when she’s acting crazy, making lots of time for her and seeing her family more than his. I don’t know about you, but some of these things seem to be signs of a slightly unhealthy relationship.
In addition to that though, she dangles sex in her relationship as a reward for her partner when he does things like “call her beautiful”; as if that’s the only way you can reward someone? This definitely just reaffirms and perpetuates sexist beliefs that women are only seen by men for sex items. She also defines the “perfect wife” as someone who buys groceries and whatever else he needs; again with those gender roles.
10. Jealous- Nick Jonas
While many girls think that it is “cute” when boys get jealous, this song proves otherwise. With closer examination of these lyrics, “Jealous” can be found to portray another unhealthy relationship. In this plot, Nick Jonas explains that because he is “jealous” he can be “hellish,” “obsessed” and “protective or possessive”. He clearly insinuates male control over female bodies. These are also clearly signs of intimate partner abuse. No one ever has the right to be “hellish” and being “possessive” isn’t a good thing either. So let’s just say jealousy in general is rarely a good thing, let alone a “cute” thing.
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For the most part, I like the songs of current pop culture. I really do. But I also find it shocking at how much can easily be hidden within a catchy tune. These are things that need to be realized and discussed in order to be changed. Next time you hear a new song, instead of just memorizing the lyrics, really listen to them and analyze them. You could be surprised at the results.