Why Feminism is Yet to Affect the Lyrics We Hear on the Radio

50 years ago, sexism and misogyny were in every quote, every household commodity advert, and (nearly) every song. Back then it was a non-issue; it was the norm. 50 years later, sexism is an issue, a big issue, but somehow we’re still hearing sexist lyrics on the radio everyday. While the cogs of feminism are constantly turning, we are still plagued with lyrics like: “Somebody's gotta wear a pretty skirt, Somebody's gotta be the one to flirt, Somebody's gotta wanna hold his hand, So God made girls, God made girls."

One of the main issues behind these words? Female country singer, RaeLynn, is the singer behind them. The moment you hear the artist reinforcing patriarchal gender roles upon her own gender, you start to question whether the issue is much bigger than the sexualizing of the female body by men. Singing a song that fundamentally reinforces the diminutive role of a woman as an object to be looked at in a pretty skirt and a tool of reinforcement to her man’s ego definitely does not bode well for the future of the feminine image in mainstream music.

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The problem we are dealing with here is essentially a voluminous one. If it were a one-time mishap, it would have been easily salvageable, with the guilty party rightfully condemned. But no, what we are dealing with here is the fact that clicking shuffle on any one of the hundreds of thousands of playlists on Spotify will guarantee the endurance of sexist lyrics and misleading ideals of women. Even a song titled something supposedly as sweet as Scouting for Girls’ "She’s So Lovely" is an indignantly lustful song with lyrics like: “She's flirty turned thirty. Ain't that the age a girl gets really dirty?” Even the widely proclaimed 'nice guy' Drake has consistently marginalized, belittled, and sexualized women in his songs.

We can’t say there has not been outrage over the representation of the female body in mainstream music though. It’s definitely not a non-issue as it was in the 50s and 60s anymore. We were all there when Robin Thicke’s "Blurred Lines" sparked heated debates and sided conversations online for multiple weeks. Although the outrage is there, the truth is the hit single made $16,675,690 and took residence on the Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles for 12 consecutive weeks. The trouble is: sexism sells. The conversations sparked by the disturbing lyrics and even more disturbing music video ended up being more of a PR stunt than a solution to a deeply rooted issue.

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Sex will always be a selling point. It’s the ultimate click bait, and the most notorious trick for doubling, tripling and quadrupling sales. But why does sex have to equate sexualizing of an entire gender? Following the footsteps of artists who had already made it to success seems to somehow constantly lead to the damaging of the little progress already made to rectify the backwards views on women’s roles in society.

Lyrics today are not any more misogynistic than they were half a century ago. The sad thing is, they’re not any less either. While progression is happening in a plethora of social issues, the evolution of female presence in music seems to have reached a grinding halt. But hope is not lost. Saudi Arabian women are now allowed to vote, gay marriage is finally legalized, and nude beaches are even opening in Egypt. One day, the dream of turning on the radio and not hearing someone sing about how my booty should look like Nicki Minaj’s and my lips like Kylie Jenner’s will turn into reality.

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