In class last week we spent time watching popular music videos that ranged from empowering women to completely and disturbingly objectifying women. The video that really hit me hard was that of Kanye West’s “Monster”. Let me first start off by sharing that this video has been removed from YouTube because it’s vulgarity caused it to be deemed a “health hazard”. The opening scene of the video has Rick Ross sitting in a chair surrounded by nearly naked, dead women hanging from the ceiling by chain-link nooses.
The video then switches to Kanye in a bed with two unconscious women who appear to be dead or to have been heavily drugged. He sits there repositioning them so that they are touching themselves and each other until he seems satisfied with himself. This scene gave me very, very odd vibes. It is not just a very rapey scenario, but I felt that it had a sex slave/human trafficking feel to it. These women are being used against their own will…there is not a sliver of consent in this entire video. The girls are being highly objectified; they are nothing but limp sex dolls.
The video moves swiftly on with Jay-Z rapping in front of a naked, dead girl on a couch and multiple shots of young women in what appears to be a dark underground cellar. The girls hold onto each other in their skimpy red dresses with wide eyes. The peeling wallpaper and sagging couch of this cellar definitely give it a dumpy brothel kind of feel. I think that this image could easily be used as a sex trafficking awareness ad. Kanye is portraying himself as a man who not only objectifies women, but as a man who tolerates/plays a part in a form of sex trade.
A scene where Kanye is casually holding a woman’s severed head is also included in this music video. As much as I love Kanye’s music, and even this very song, this video goes way way WAY too far. This video is fueled by female objectification and hypersexualization. Everything is about the female body and the power that these men have over it. Videos like this make it okay for women’s bodies to be objectified. Girls interpret this sort of media as direct evidence that they are worth nothing more than their bodies. Boys interpret this sort of media as a direct excuse to treat women as nothing but their bodies.
We need to realize how easy media makes it for us to form negative stereotypes and stigmas in society. Music videos make violence against women seem so natural and nonchalant, so why should violence be a big deal in the real world?