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Women objectify women in music videos too, researchers find

April 4, 2012 | 12:23 pm

Lady Gaga and other female artists use sexual objectification of themselves in music videos, new study concludes
It’s official: Sexual objectification of women in music videos isn’t limited to those featuring male stars. A new study by two University of Missouri researchers has found that female artists frequently turn themselves into sex objects in their own videos, begging the question: “Ya think?”

“It has been known that music videos featuring male artists often sexually objectify women, but our study shows that many female artists are objectifying themselves in their music videos,” said Cynthia Frisby, an associate professor of strategic communication in the university’s School of Journalism. She conducted the study with Jennifer Aubrey, an associate professor in communication from the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“The images coming from these music videos are very powerful and influential,” Frisby said. “Young audiences may interpret these sexually objectifying images as important ways to be seen as attractive and valuable to society, especially with how pervasive these videos are throughout our culture.”

They looked at every video in Billboard’s Top 10 videos from 2006-2010 in pop, hip-hop/R&B and country music and concluded that the sexual objectification occurred equally across race boundaries, but that female country artists were the least likely to portray any type of sexuality.

“Despite numerous existing sexual stereotypes regarding black women,” Frisby wrote in the study published in the Howard Journal of Communications, “they don’t appear to objectify themselves any more or less than women of other races.”

The university’s synopsis of the study didn’t indicate what percentage of the videos they looked at were made by men or women.

Frisby and Aubrey did, however, find that female pop artists were portrayed in sexualized dance more often than those in the hip-hop/R&B videos.

“Pop videos contained a different type of sexual objectification than hip-hop/R&B music videos,” Frisby said. “While pop videos were more likely to contain sexual objectification related to movement, such as dance and the gaze that is likely to result from dance performance, hip-hop/R&B videos were more likely to contain sexual objectification related to styling and dress.”

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-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Lady Gaga from her "Bad Romance" music video. Credit: 2009 Interscope Records.

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