There is nothing more disappointing than loving a song, then going to watch its music video only to find that it consists of numerous shots of unnamed, half-naked women draping themselves over a fully clothed man. In these videos, the male gaze is highly apparent.
The male gaze is a theory stating that women in the media are often depicted from a males point of view. In the case of moving image (film, music videos etc.) this refers to the shots used of women and their framing. The camera often focuses on parts of the woman that would attract a man (her lips, breasts, bum etc.). This forces all viewers male or female to adopt a ‘male gaze’. It is important to note that shots of men in these cases are not framed in the same way.
This is damaging. When males see fellow men they admire, making music they listen to, so casually flaunt women as sexual objects, denied even a clear storyline it can influence their view of women in real life. And women and girls watching these videos are comparing themselves to these women, thinking to attract a man of clout they too must fit into the “bad video b*tch cookie cutter”.
This is not to say that women dressing and dancing provocatively are not empowered, but it is down to the angle that the video takes. A Rihanna or Beyoncé video that features the woman in control of herself and her sexuality is completely different from a man immersing himself in multiple women who have more shots from the back than the front.
This is not to say that the use of women in music videos should be scrapped altogether. But, perhaps if the women are all in bikinis they should at least be around a pool.
Photo: Jimmy Stewart in “Rear Window,” 1956