March 23, 2015

The Blurred Lines of Pop

Sex and the music industry go together like gin and tonic. We view raunchy scenes as a part of pop culture and have lost the ability to be truly shocked. But does that mean we shouldn’t care anymore? In an era slowly defining itself by a new wave of feminism, can we really remain indifferent to such blatant degradation of the female body?

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini recently proclaimed her disdain for scantily-clad pop stars flaunting their wares for the sake of selling records. And she would be the perfect spokeswoman, were it not for her brazen refusal to admit her own culpability in this global sexualisation of young women. She embodies the definition of hypocrite by deeming her own flesh-baring as ‘fun’ and ‘quirky’ while labelling other females as ‘sad’ and ‘insincere’. In her own words, dressing too provocatively is just unnecessary. About as unnecessary as a full-size arse tattoo, I would imagine. How can we progress when even the creator of the tramp landscape sees herself as the most virginal of creatures?

Meghan Trainor is another singer whose ambiguity has confused audiences. She advocates body confidence and independence but in her latest video for ‘Dear Future Husband’, she is seen scrubbing floors and promising to buy groceries in her attempt to portray the perfect wife. Granted, it is a 50’s throwback video, but there is a disturbing sense that this is not a parody of patriarchal attitudes. Her unoriginal lyricism is pervasive and she continues to fall back on pop clichés in order to create a catchy tune, not realising this leads to an overall message of female submission to male expectations. No, she does not have to be an emblem of feminism, but if you are going to aim your garish neon videos at impressionable teenagers, then I think you should get off your knees and start demanding empowerment instead of a diamond ring.

Rihanna, Miley and Katy ‘I wanna see your peacock’ Perry are no strangers to controversial displays of sexuality but by far the worst offender has to be Beyoncé. At the risk of committing treason against Queen Bey, you need to have some consistency in your repertoire and decide if you want to be seen as a porn star or a loving wife and mother. You cannot produce such explicit videos as Partition and Blow and file it away as the antics of an alter ego. If we’ve seen Sasha Fierce simulate sex acts, we’ve seen Beyoncé do it. And for what reason? She is an incredibly talented performer and it is not naivety to believe she would be every bit as successful if her legs weren’t akimbo at every opportunity. Prostituting your body for number one hits does not make you a feminist, no matter how many billboards you flash up on stage.

It is a true sign of the times where I feel genuinely prudish for criticising the abundance of flesh-flashing. Women have the right to be sexy but also the responsibility to know when the line crosses into slutty. Wear red lipstick, killer heels and a short skirt. Just leave the sex to the adult film industry.