July 31 , 2021
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. )
There are two epidemics in the music industry. One is not as bad but essential enough. Every week there is a musician that comes out with a song. This is good. Unfortunately, it is a repurposed song, originally performed by some singer from decades ago. Since the older song is known, at least in passing, the re-recorded music sounds catchy right away. Then we find out that it was originally sung by someone else, usually someone that passed away a long time ago.
The new song, recorded with better instruments, is not that better mostly. The only difference is that they have a splashy clip, which brings us to the second epidemic – the increasingly familiar portrayal of women in Ethiopian music.
The other day, I watched a music video on TV, mesmerised by the artist's voice, melody, and lyrics. Out of nowhere, a woman with a skintight top and jeans that were too short pops up. She seemed out of place. The only reason why they must have put her in the music video is to get the attention of viewers, especially male ones.
These days, one can open nearly any clip and find girls – yes, girls as some of them seem to be very young – in a skimpy outfit that barely covers their body. They do have the right to dress the way they like. What is alarming is the producers of these music videos actively seeking them for exhibition in this manner. It is as if this makes up for the artists' lack of talent and poor lyrical content. Even a song that does not have anything to do with partying or clubbing has women showing off some part of their bodies
Why do directors, producers or whoever is in charge of making music videos think that this is the only way to get viewers' attention? Why do women have to be objectified to make a song or its artists more popular?
Sure, the women may be getting paid for participating in the video, and none of them are likely appearing in clips without their consent. The problem is that the music industry is creating an environment where women have few other opportunities to be noticed short of allowing themselves to be objectified by predominantly male producers and artists for the pleasure of the male members of the audience.
It is not only the music industry but the media as a whole. Being in media myself, I have heard multiple stories of talented women denied the opportunity because they refused to sleep with either the director or the producer. Some have sacrificed themselves to make it into the industry. The casting couch is not an urban myth.
Had I been asked a few years ago, I would have said that dressing in a revealing manner is what gets the attention of men and to be beautiful meant to reveal some parts of my body. Now, I have a different perspective, perhaps because I am married with children. A woman’s beauty always shines, whatever she is wearing. She does not need to reveal her body parts to be seen as attractive. If anything, she attracts the wrong kind of men and attention by objectifying herself.
Some men say they like women who dress in that manner. Whenever they see their own sisters doing it, though, they change their minds and feel embarrassed. I could also not imagine fathers being comfortable seeing their daughters depicted in the way they are in the music videos being made these days.
Women should not be used as trophies to display to get ahead in the market and portray them as just pretty faces with skinny physiques. Make a music video that does not degrade a woman’s worth and makes little children grow up believing that the overtly sexualised version shown is the definition of beauty. The fact that this has to be said is depressing in and of itself.
PUBLISHED ON Jul 31,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1109]
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