What’s Sex Got to Do With Usher?

Usher has imparted many #1 hits unto the world. From “U Make Me Wanna” to “Confessions” to “OMG,” Usher has graced us with not only his voice, but also his softer, more emotional side. However, what happens when Usher switches gears and speaks about his relationship… with a stripper!?

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Domestic Violence Illustrated in Hip Hop Videos

As an avid listener of hip hop and rap, I am pretty familiar with the different types of vulgar statements and crude comments towards opposites sexes. Most hip hop and rap songs are about sex, love, money, drugs, and other things paired with catchy, head bopping beats. I don’t really watch the music videos to the songs I listen to, but as I was writing my last blog, I was decided to listen to a song by a rapper I have been listening to named Kevin Gates on youtube. Kevin Gates is a 28 year old rapper from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is pretty much an up and coming rapper, and he was named to the 2014 XXL Freshman Class- among the rest of the top new rappers and artists who have bright futures ahead of them. I was really in the mood to hear a song of his called Satellites, and to understand why the song is called Satellites I had to do a little thinking beyond the lyrics. I thought, what would being torn between his girl and his hustle have anything to do with a satellite. Well, being that a satellite is an outside object controlled by something it once was attached to, Kevin Gates is being controlled by his hustle because he depends on it, but his girl wants him to stay home with her.

I decided to take a little break in my writing to decompress myself and I watched the music video. As the music video progressed, the situation between Kevin Gates and his girl worsened as he got deeper and deeper into his hustle. My reason for writing this post is because of one particular scene where he wakes up in the middle of the night, when he gets a call from a client in need of whatever it is that he deals. He wasn’t going to deny easy money, as any successful hustler would tell you, and he went to get up from bed and do his business. However, his girl woke up in this process and she was visibly upset. The expression on Kevin Gates face said that he was tired of her trying to control him and tell him what to do, and he looked frustrated. As she gets up to make him stay, he grabs her and throws her rather forcefully back onto the bed. As he gets ready to walk out the door, the negative physical contact between the two continues. As soon as I saw this, the idea of domestic violence came popped straight into my head. Although no one was really hurt during this little altercation, what makes it okay for a rapper playing himself in a music video to grab a girl forcefully by the shoulders, shake her, and then throw her onto the bed? I am very sure that kids younger than I have seen this music video, and what if they see it and think that it is okay? Have a look, skip to about 1:35

My mind started going into gender studies mode, and I started to wonder if maybe domestic violence was a pattern in his music videos. Just like I had thought, domestic violence is depicted yet again in his music video for a song called ‘Posed To Be In Love. In this song, he raps about the girl he is supposed to be in love with, although they broke up, and how she she left him to be in the terrible relationship she is in now. When his ex girl comes home late at night, her new boyfriend is up drunkenly waiting for her, and when he sees her, he gets mad and beats her. She is seen thereafter in the bathroom crying with a big bruise on her face. Is Kevin Gates trying to show us something here? We all know that beating a woman is bad, and is a cowardly thing to do as a man. Instead of hiding from it, Kevin Gates is not afraid to show that domestic violence exists in everyday relationships. I personally feel a little bit uncomfortable watching a woman being beaten, so I wouldn’t want someone younger than me to watch a music video like this one. What do you guys think? Possibly he grew up in a situation like this one in a rough childhood in New Orleans. Do you think it is okay to broadcast such actions when he knows possibly millions of people will see the video? Let me know! Here’s a link to the video by the way, skip to about 1:20!

What’s sex got to do with…Final Reflections

For me, the most important concept to understand the relationship between sex and society is heteronormativity. The Oxford dictionary defines heteronormativity as “denoting or relating to a world view that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation.” Throughout the semester we have seen how much this concept plays out in our modern world despite burgeoning support for the LGBTQI community.

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Whats sex got to do with… “Sexy Can I”

 

The song “Sexy can I” by Yung Berg, Ft. Ray J, is arguably asking for sexual consent throughout the song. Starting almost every line with “Sexy can I” asking if he can perform sexual pleasures in different kinds of ways. Some may argue that this is a form of sexual consent because of the use of such explicit language talking about how the way she shakes “it” makes him like “oh”.

“Girl how you shake it, got a nigga like (oh)

It’s a Kodak moment, let me go and get my camera”

 

“Sexy, can I, visit you at work?

While you slidin down the pole, no panties, no shirt

Then you climb back up the pole, then you drop and do the splits”

Debra Tolman, writer of “Adolescent Girls Sexuality” would use the terms “sexual subjectivity” and “sexual socialization”.  She would use the term sexual subjectivity for either the male or the female, because the male is expressing himself as in he is entitled to having the sexual feelings he is having and making the active decision on talking to the girl in sexual ways.  While for the female (A dancer), she is putting herself out there shaking her booty and swinging on the pole; she is entitled to her sexual behavior.  For the term sexual socialization, it would be toward the woman; because she is socialized that woman should be the object of a man’s desire.

The women he is talking about in this song are viewed as sexual objects and are being used to sell the song.  Could this be viewed in the Marxist approach?  She is using her body to make money, while Yung Berg and Ray J are using her to sell their song to the public.

Steven Siedman in “The Social Construction of Sexuality” states that sex is viewed as social.  That people are born with sexual nature and are biologically driven to engage in procreative behavior; social factors influence with whom this behavior is engaged with (11).  With this said, some may view this song as no problem, because it is natural for these behaviors to happen.  The girl has the mindset that she is a sexual object for the man and it is her job to please him.  This heterosexual behavior is natural throughout history (10).  How do you think the public may have perceived this song if it was guy to guy or girl to girl?

 

Sex is a huge part of today’s culture now, so it is a primary seller.  You see it everywhere, not just in music but in all of the entertainment business and fashion business, like underwear and lingerie.

What are your impressions on society using sex as a big time seller?  Do you think the song would have sold if it were a female singing to a male?

 

 

Beyonce: Feminism or Sexuality?

Beyonce is not a new name for anyone, so when an icon this big makes a statement, people listen. Beyonce established herself as a feminist during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards when her background on stage said the word “Feminist,” as it matched with some of her lyrics in some of her songs that she performed. She wanted to make a statement and bring attention to the treatment of women. However, many people question Beyonce’s usage of the word “feminist” for many reasons. First, her newest album is hyper sexualized. She discusses sex and various sexual acts, and when she performs on stage, she dances in the upmost sexual way. During her Video Music Award performance, she was dancing on a stripper pole with her back up dancers. All of her dancers were in very skimpy outfits as was Beyonce, so many people question whether she is a feminist or just sexualizing women through her music, outfits, and dancing. This has been criticized by many people because she has labeled herself in this way.

The Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox commented on Beyonce’s performance and critiqued her for labeling herself as a feminist. “Lennox decried Beyoncé’s example as noxious to girls and young women who are fascinated by the “overtly sexual thrust” of her performances and declared her luxuriously sensuous persona “disturbing” and “exploitative” (The Huffington Post). Do you agree with this? Beyonce’s sexuality has created a split in opinions; she is a feminist and is comfortable with her sexuality or she is objectifying women by using her body and image by being sexual. In the next two videos you can see the differences in her sexuality with the different songs. In this first video she performs “Flawless” and “Yonce.” She is less sexual than the next video where she performs “Drunk in Love.” How do you feel after watching both videos?

Flawless and Yonce: http://youtu.be/SK4jYxmJD_o

Drunk in Love: http://youtu.be/QQVLgMRZuAU

In both videos, Beyonce uses her “flawless” body to grab your attention, so do you think this helps her case of being a feminist? After Beyonce did this performance, an academic class called “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” was created at the University of Texas at Austin because of the amount of attention it brought to feminism. The professor (a professor of African diaspora studies) found that the most attention received by this were young black women, which is to say that Beyonce’s statement really did make an impact. The professor of this class explained that this is becoming a source of empowerment to women, that the lyrics “I woke up like this” is worth talking about. She also explained that Beyonce’s image is not just of sexuality and of extravagant items, but visioning that a black woman is worth all of this. Having this image of women keeps this belief alive, that women are worth everything and should be treated that way. 

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In class we have discussed society’s role in sexuality. It starts at a very young age, even at birth. Girls are always dressed in pink and given dolls to play with, and boys are dressed in blue and given trucks to play with. We identify their gender without hesitation, not taking into account all of the other possibilities that a person might have (such as being asexual, transgender, or gay). Sociologists suggest that sexuality is a product of society, that the conditions around us shape who we are and our sexuality. Because of this and our biological makeup, we are expected to act in a certain way: men are supposed to act tough and unemotional, and women are supposed to be sexy, emotional, and stay-at-home-moms. Because of this societal pressure, this might explain why Beyonce feels like she has to be sexual in her performances through her clothes, dancing, and lyrics. For a woman, sex sells. This is found through magazine ads, music, clothing ads, and shopping stores. Women are trained to think about wearing makeup, nice clothes, and acting like a “woman.” You can see this on the cover of a Sports Illustrated magazine, a perfume commercial, or in a Victoria’s Secret advertisement.

Sexualizing women is even found within the music industry, not just by the performers but what is in the music videos. In rap and hip hop songs especially, girls are in music videos as a way to serve as “eye candy” and to draw in more viewers because of their bodies. For example, the song “Do My Dance” by Tyga definitely takes advantage of this. This song is all about getting with a girl and sleeping with her. The music video has so many sexual innuendos that you cannot miss and portrays what it would be like to have sex with one girl in particular featured in the video. You can listen to the song and watch the music video with the link below.

Though most music videos feature women as the “girl to sleep with,” many female hip hop artists also follow the social script of sexuality associated with being a woman. In the song “Motivation” by Kelly Rowland, you can see how she uses her sexuality to fit with her song. The lyrics require a sexual music video but you there is still a difference between male artists using women in their music videos and female artists using sexuality in their videos. What role do you see women and their sexualities play in music or even, everyday life? What are your thoughts about Beyonce and how she presents herself, especially now that she has labeled herself as a feminist?

Motivation: http://youtu.be/s1XozsBN5Z4

What’s Sex Got to Do With…Nashville?

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The idea of heteronormativity is an extremely important topic in our media today. In the TV show Nashville, heteronormativity is at an ultimate high. Thankfully, it is obvious that the show has made some distinct efforts to create diversity through sexual orientation and racial identity in the film.

The show Nashville shown on ABC is a drama about the lives of Rayna James, Julliette Barnes, and many other country music stars just trying to make it in the industry. The idea of heteronormativity is defined as the normality of heterosexuality throughout our society and the exclusion of the LGBTQ community. Throughout the show, there are many sexual relationships between the characters. There is a point where Rayna James has to choose between 2 men to marry, and throughout the show Juliette Barnes dates and hooks up with almost all of the male characters on the show. There are many heterosexual relationships on the show, but thankfully, the producers do make an effort to show diversity in the film.

In addition to heteronormativity, the idea that “sex sells” is prominent for the TV show. Throughout the show, there are many sex scenes and sexual relationships. The show was primarily advertised as a family show, but when the majority of the show turned out to be about sex, the producers received much backlash. The truth behind this is simple: sex sells, and the relationships and hookups shown throughout the show is what makes it dramatic and makes people want to come back and watch more.

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The characters in this photo are Will Lexington on the right, an upcoming artist in the music industry. On the left is the first guy with whom he had sexual relations. This is the man who makes Will know for a fact that he is gay. Will goes through lots of trauma throughout his coming out because he is a young, good looking country star who seems to be the definition of masculinity. His character is a distinct example for the producers trying to depict diversity because it is through a person nobody would think to ever be gay.

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Secondly, the producers make a distinct effort to show an interracial relationship in the show. Gunnar, a white male, and Zoey, an African American female, date throughout Season 2 of the show.

What do you believe are the effects of how the producers of Nashville planned an interracial relationship and a gay, male, country artist in the show? Does this have any major affect on heteronormativity in our media? Does the idea that Nashville is in the deep South and that country music tends to be very old fashioned and conservative have any effect on the majority of the show being heteronormative, or is this just the way our society is? The producers could have chosen any character to be gay, but why did they choose Will Lexington?