Are Music Video Girls Exploited?

UK TV Channel BBC3 once in a while produces something worth taking a look at, and the minute I saw an advert for their latest documentary –- exploring the job that is ‘The Music Video Girl' –- I was intrigued.

Music videos are a subject that I often bring attention to. It is impossible to turn on the latest music channel without being bombarded with a series of greased up women jiggling their bits around in front of the camera. Of course, we can't forget the men parading around them with the, ‘Yes, these are my bitches,' attitude. Unfortunately, apart from pop starlets like Katy Perry –- that's a post worth of discussion right there –- this is mostly a ‘Hip-Hop' mentality, and Hip-Hop is obviously going to have a series of hurdles to overcome the subjection of women in its mainstream videos.

The programme itself, titled Music, Money and Hip-Hop Honeys, never really reached a conclusion, which wasn't a particular surprise; an hour's worth of footage wasn't enough time to dive into the subject. There was some insight into the music video world, where men are undoubtedly reigning supreme over women. We got a look at the hopeful dreamers who long to be a successful music video girl. One had been sexually harassed, but still wanted to continue her dream of stardom and when the presenter jetted off to America, she got to meet the likes of LoLa –- the star of 50 Cent, Kanye West, Lloyd Banks' music videos –- who reportedly was paid $12,000 for two days work. She went on to stick up for the music video girls, giving some fairly valid points of how some girls take the job to get by in life –- even when a lot of these girls don't get paid –- and also, happily admitting that it was her way of forging her own music career in the process.

This isn't a review of the programme itself, but a question of: When does something become exploitative? And who is to judge how a woman makes her money? As long as she is happy doing what she's doing is it really any of our business? But then is this view of women really benefiting society and having some kind of lasting effect on how we view the female gender –- where men always come out on top? There always seems to be this close divide where no one can win, when both sides have valid points.

Just because a woman is walking around in a bikini in some music video, doesn't mean that she is being exploited or that she isn't independent in her own right. If she is aware of how she is going to be treated then she is aware of the consequences. But then that still doesn't give someone the right to subjectively use her as if she wasn't a human being or less than an equal.

One member of the UK garage band, So Solid Crew, admitted that in this world, "sex and violence sell." So instead of trying to break that barrier down, introduce new ways of filming a music video without a barely clad girl shaking the only thing that is apparently worth anything, her body, it is now just excepted. We all have to get over it, and deal. Chuck in a bunch of oily girls gyrating next to the said male artist and you've got yourself a hit. That's the 21st century music industry, right there.

This post originally appeared on The F-Bomb, which is "a blog/community created for teenage girls who care about their rights as women and want to be heard."

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