There are many different ways our thoughts on gender diversity are affected by today’s culture. It can come from our families, friends, magazines, television and even music. The media today plays an even larger part in our gender make up than it did as little as a decade ago. With the creation of faceable, youth and mainstream, we are seeing a greater influence than ever. For the sake of this paper would like to focus on how music and television affect gender diversity.
When a new song is released, depending on public opinion, the record could sell thousands of copies and as a result be laded on the radio several times a day reaching hundreds of thousands of listeners. Unless parents have the ability to strictly monitor all Of their children’s music choices and I don’t know many who do, the young people today are hearing all sorts of gender messages through music that may be subconsciously shaping who they are. Even though there are many different genres of music I am going to focus on the rap culture and the messages they emit.
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Many of the rap songs portray women as weak and submissive. Several of the songs include violence against women whether it is sexual, mental or mommies which displays an overall lack of respect for females. While at the same time the man is portrayed as strong, wealthy and powerful and overall domineering of the woman. Rarely in rap music, is there a song that paints a picture of the woman having power over the man. The first song that came to mind when given this assignment was Mine Love The Way You Lie featuring Iranian.
The song received 5 Grammar nominations and was number one on 26 weekly record charts including Billboard Hot 1 00 for seven weeks. The single sold more than 5 million copies in the united States alone. Member hearing the song for the first time when my, at the time, 13 year old daughter was listening. My initial reaction was, “wow what a catchy tune”, even found myself humming along. Once I actually listened to the lyrics however made the decision to prohibit her from listening to the song until we had a chance to talk about the meaning.
That being said I felt it was a good song for use in this first Reflection paper. What didn’t realize was that due to Amine’s huge success of Love The Way You Lie they recorded a second version with Iranian singing the lead, which viewed the relationship room a female perspective. That version Love The Way You Lie Part II is the one I chose to discuss in this paper. The beginning of the song holds with the theory of biological determinism that women and men will act a certain way based on their gender. Women will generally be weak, submissive and dependent where as men will be strong, dominant and aggressive.
The first phrase of the song refers to how their future looked bright but then turned evil, “but you will always be my hero even though you have lost your mind”. By her addressing him as her hero, she falls in line with the belief that men an do whatever they feel necessary to keep the relationship going whether it is through physical or mental violence. At this point in the song she has succumb to stereotyping based on her gender. The second aspect covered in this song is the concept of “power over someone versus “power to”.
Power over, in this instance, is referenced well in the line “in this tug of war you’ll always win even when I am right”. Her lack of ability to stand strong with her beliefs of right and wrong are a good example of the power he has over her. The conclusion of the song is a good representation of violence in gender perversity. However, it does deviate from the text book description a bit. Although violence should never be accepted as the norm in any culture against women, rarely do we hear about men as the victims. Violence against men should be just as troubling as violence against women.
Years ago men were taught to be the protector of the weaker sex, to be kind and gentle. No man know was ever taught how to handle himself should he be attacked by a female. Most of the stories I have heard convey the man as protecting himself but never getting physical in return. The ending of the song paints he female in quite a different light, not necessarily the victim but rather an equal participant in the violence. As shown by the line “you hit me twice, yeah but who’s counting? I may have hit you three times, I’m starting to lose count’.
It is clearly a caustic relationship and it is obvious that neither person has the inclination to leave and move on as expressed in this final line, “cause with you I’m in my in’ mind, without you I’m out it. I love the way you lie”. On the lighter side, the television show I have chosen is The Big Bang Theory. The show is set in Pasadena California and has five main characters: Sheldon ND Leonard both physicists and roommates who work at CalTech , their geeky co-workers Howard and Raja make up the male residents of the program and Penny, Sheldon and Lemonade’s neighbor.
Penny is a pretty waitress aspiring to be and actress. While the four socially awkward men spend their time playing video games, reading comic books and watching science fiction movies. The Big Bang Theory’s witty sarcasm presents a lighthearted look at how individuals are stereotyped in today’s society by defining the male and female roles and whether or not the characters conform to society’s norm. The study of contradiction works well with this sitcom. Penny, the most feminine character, is a typical blond, attractive young woman who holds true to the roles put forth to her by society.
She has a desire to be pretty and feminine and always wanting to look her best. Amy, a supporting female character, is the complete opposite of Penny. At times Amy seems more masculine then feminine mostly due to her outward appearance accented by her exceptional intellect. This portrayal makes her the less attractive female character on the sitcom viewed as a nerdy, aggressive woman not at all what women in our society strive to be. At the same time, Raja’s character displays more feminine behavior then the other three men on the show. He whines and is emotional about how women do not want to be with him.
His whiny antics are often looked at with disdain from his friends suggesting that behaving like an emotional woman is an undesirable behavior for a man. We can use Hoard’s relationship with his mother as a good example of psychoanalysis. Although we never see Hoard’s mother, she communicates to him by yelling in an obnoxious manner across the house to him which leaves Howard no choice but to yell jack at her calling her a “crazy old lady’ under his breath. Hoard’s unconventional relationship with his mother leads Sheldon to observe that he seems to have an “unresolved oedipal complex”.
So it is no surprise that Howard enters into a relationship with a lady, Barnett who is much like his mother. At first Barnett is understandably freaked out by Hoard’s relationship with his mother, but by the next morning she is yelling across the house in exact imitation of her. It would seem that Howard should be disturbed by Vertebrate’s imitation of his mother, but Hoard’s had an unhealthy relationship with his mother since the beginning so, it is no surprise that he embraces her obnoxious side.
To further expand on that theory in the episode I watched this week Barnett leaves the hospital waiting room at one point upset that Howard has said something to the effect of how his mother is upset that Barnett can have sex with Howard and but she cannot. Howard even admits that once said out loud it does sound a “little creepy’. They further drive the point home when Barnett comes out of the hospital room after talking to his mother and attacks Howard in the name tone of voice his mother uses.
Howard then turns to his friends and asks “Is it just me or does she sound sexy when she is angry? ” Society today has no difficulty mixing up the gender norm as we have seen in many popular songs and television shows. As depicted in the song Love the Way You Lie Part II, with both the male and the female being equal participants in the violence and in the show The Big Bang Theory, where females are portrayed as manly and some of the men displaying more feminine characteristics than masculine. As expressed in the beginning of this paper, rap music has allowed violence to be accepted in pop culture.
Even though we know mistreatment of women is wrong it becomes more tolerable because a popular music artist can portray it as an acceptable part of life. I can only hope that parents will step in to teach their children good moral values and the difference between right and wrong despite what their favorite singer has to say. As society becomes more open to diverse lifestyles, I believe going forward we will constantly see a change in what has always been thought of as normal in regard to a person’s gender identity.