How do we choose the music that we listen to? We could be affected by the music itself, the lyrics could touch us on a personal level, or we may have a predisposition to a certain genre of music due to the geographic area we live in. Our background and upbringing can even play a role in our musical choices. However we come to that ultimate decision, how many of us actually pay close attention to the language used in the songs that we like? Could it be that some of our favorite artists or compositions actually contain language that can be considered sexist or harmful?
Many people associate sexist language with the music genre of rap and hip/hop, but the truth is that sexist language invades every style of music. While it is true that the lyrics to rap songs contain the most obvious derogatory terms towards women, research has found that popular pop music also includes language that can demoralize women or make women seem inferior to men. Women are often referred to as objects and even as possessions by artists, implying that even in this day and age females are still second-class compared to males. Some artists compare women to cars, others use their words to enforce their male dominance. Regardless of how popular an artist or song is promoting sexist lyrics shows that as a whole the public does not have a problem with demoralizing women. Numerous male musicians even use this sort of language as a marketing tactic, knowing that their lyrics will cause a controversy that could inevitably boost album sales.
In 2010 Dr. Cynthia Frisby published an article in Media Report to Women about a research study that she conducted to find any correlation between music genre, artist gender, and artist ethnicity. Common slang terms used to define women in popular music included “ho” and “bitch.” Eight genres were identified and included in the study: pop, R&B, hip hop/rap, country, rock, alternative, folk and Latin music. 150 songs were selected from the Top 50 most popular songs ranging from the years 2006 to 2008 and were pulled from platinum albums. (A platinum album has sold at least 1 million copies.) Each song was listened to in its entirety twice and the lyrics were verified by the researchers through Lyrics.com.
Results showed that songs classified as hip hop/rap “frequently included references to female ‘bitches’, than the other genres (87.5%)” (Frisby 16.) While there were no indicative results correlating artist gender or ethnicity to the use of derogatory slang words, her research found that hip hop/rap music was not the only culprit. In addition to showing that “of the eight genres, hip hop was found to more likely use slang words and rely on message themes that refer to women as sexually...