Rap music videos consistently cause controversy for the sexual content. In these music videos, black women are objectified and stereotyped. The Journal of Women’s Health decided to analyze the affects of these stereotypes in Images of Sexual Stereotypes in Rap Videos and the Health of African American Female Adolescents. The young black women surveyed were selected from low income, high crime neighborhood. Self-administered surveys were given out at a family medical clinic. The researchers found that adolescent young girls who saw more sexual stereotypes in rape music videos were more like to participate in binge drinking, use marijuana, have multiple sexual partners and have lower self esteem.
The results of these findings are not shocking at all. Rap music has often been criticized by the content in the music videos. The negative stereotypes are unavoidable. Scantily clad women with exaggerated features are a staple in the current rap music video. Young black women in poor neighborhoods are forced to live up to this stereotype. Because they don’t see any other images of young black women, they feel like being highly sexualized is their only option.
There is no question that rap music videos have been detrimental to the experiences of the young black women, however the severity of these effects is difficult to measure. Socioeconomic status is unavoidable when evaluating the effects of rap music videos. Low income neighborhoods are characterized by prostitutes, drugs, public assistance recipients, and lack of opportunity. These conditions existed before the highly sexualized rap music video. Young black women in these neighborhoods see these images first hand on a daily basis.
The socioeconomic status of these neighborhoods makes it difficult for black women to rise above the adversity. It is difficult to imagine a different reality. Black women have lower self esteem in these neighborhoods have low self esteem because they aren’t treated with respect, and have been tremendously disadvantaged by teenage pregnancy, abuse, poverty, and poor education. Young black women in these neighborhoods have low self esteem because they don’t have options. They are forced to fit into one negative stereotype.
Rap music videos don’t cause drug abuse, high sexual activity and low self esteem in young black women. They reinforce it. Rap music videos, along the lyrics, glamorize the negative aspects of the everyday lives of black women and strengthen the stereotypes. The strengthening of the stereotypes in these music videos puts the young black woman in a box. It has a negative effect on how people inside and out of her neighborhood perceive her. Rap music videos assist in limiting the options of young black women.
There is not one specific solution to this problem. All parties involved will have to take responsibility. Rappers should respect black women more and avoid putting stereotypical images of black women in their videos. The distributors of these music videos, who are often white, should be criticized as well. Positive images of young black women should be widely exposed in music and television. The environments that young black women live in should also be improved. Access to education and job opportunity should be improved. More research needs to be done to accurately and successfully address the issue.
Peterson, Shani. “Images of Sexual Stereotypes in Rap Videos and the Health of African American Female Adolescents.” Journal of Women’s Health 16.8 (2007): 1157-64. Web. 18 Dec 2009. .