I’ve heard people tell me that after a certain amount of time removing gluten, sugar, or dairy from their diet, they no longer miss it. I am not that person. 😅 BUT I am that person who found the same thing to be true with music.
Maybe it’s because I’m a woman who finally woke up to the very real objectification of female bodies, or maybe it’s because I am about to bring another female body into this world, but I’ve noticed far too much of mainstream music (and entertainment as a whole) is complicit in the degradation of women — perpetuating a toxic culture that accepts violence, sexualizes every aspect of a woman’s body, and glorifies pornography.
I am no longer okay with this. I am no longer okay with ignoring the lyrics for the sake of the beat. I am no longer okay with glossing over what I am hearing because it’s “just a song.” I am no longer okay with solely blaming the men who honk or follow me on runs, rendering them pigs, when they likely listen to the very same music I do — music that asserts my body is something to be lusted after (no matter its shape or size). I am no longer okay with listening to artists (both male and female) and helping build their careers, when they are using their talents and platform to strip women of their dignity and make them nothing more than bodies to be had. I am no longer okay with the toxicity of the entertainment industry and the way we glorify other humans as gods because we see their faces on our screens. I am no longer okay with society’s acceptance and normalization of pornography and its growing push for the normalization of child exploitation and pedophilia. I mean, I never was okay with any of this, but I am no longer okay with ignoring that I have a role to play.
I’ve seen and researched the way all of these things feed into creating the warped mindsets that believe it is okay to harm others. It always starts with a mindset. And if I am one less person downloading an artist’s music or following them on Instagram, then they have one less person in their corner covertly approving their work. Their power lessens. They no longer need to supply the demand.
So yes, I am over two months deep purging the music I was formerly okay listening to and cleansing my music library from the filth I allowed infiltrate my ears and my mind. No, this does not mean every song I listen to is now praise and worship music (although, I do find that those songs often enrich my spirit the most). I still listen to artists whose music is uplifting and light, or whose music is catchy without it being trashy. And I’m not going to turn off someone else’s playing of mainstream music or popular radio. But it does mean that the songs that regularly reference female bodies and explicitly glorify sexuality, and the artists who do the same, are no longer welcomed in my headphones. They will not get my support or approval anymore. And that freedom is so good.
We all know by now that what we consume dictates so much of what we think and how we act. Take a look at or a listen to what you’re consuming…did you notice things you missed before? Do you really agree with what you hear or are you pretending you didn’t hear it? I looked up the lyrics to Cardi B’s new song to figure out what WAP stood for, and I couldn’t even keep reading past the first verse. It is that repulsive, and it is #1 trending in music today. Interesting. Same with the new movie “Cuties” on Netflix. People are coming to its defense saying that the premise of the movie was to expose the dangers of exploiting and sexualizing children BY doing the very thing that it recognizes to be dangerous. Nope, sorry. I fail to see how degrading women and CHILDREN allows these same individuals to experience empowerment.
It is one thing to love and embrace your body. It is quite another for that same body to be at the center of nearly every song and movie — urging women to show it off and urging men to take advantage of it. Women are amazing, and our bodies do remarkable things. But we are SO much more than our bodies. Let’s not allow our media to reduce us to existing for another’s gratification.
I don’t expect you to all do make a change in what you watch or listen to. In fact, I lived literal YEARS with the belief that music was only music. If someone else would say “how can you listen to this?” I would say, “I don’t listen to the lyrics, I just like the beat.” I know now that what I let feed me, feeds who I am. I’m slowly waking up to how quick we are to accept things as normal. But we don’t have to! When you take a closer look or listen, you may find a lot more wrong than you ever did before. What is it for you — music, movies, porn, video games, etc — that is feeding you messages that indirectly, or explicitly, perpetuate the violence, rape, and objectification of others? I’d encourage you — give it up.
You might crave it for a while, and then, you won’t miss it anymore.
It’s brave and it’s bold and it’s definitely not trendy. But it is healthy and holy. And it will make a difference.