Letter to the Editors: Pop Music Contains Subtle Stereotypes

Krissy Welch and Anita Peebles

To the Editors:

During Gloria Steinem’s recent visit to campus, she reminded students that feminism is still alive and there is much work to be done to guarantee gender equality. This message struck a chord with activist Obies. But before focusing on equalizing the rest of the world, we should take a look at what’s playing on our radio presets and at the ’Sco.

Popular music, though admittedly not the most listened-to genre at Oberlin, is often heard at the ‘Sco and other dance parties. Just for a second, stop and think about your favorite dance song — what does the chorus say? Which words are used to describe women, and in what context are they portrayed? How are male attitudes toward women and masculinity portrayed? Which social norms are being reinforced by the lyrics? These are questions that most people don’t ask themselves as they are “Soulja Boy”-ing the night away. Many people proclaim that they “like the beat” even if they don’t believe in the lyrics. Instead, they just keep on dancing, not considering whom the song might be objectifying or stereotyping.

Obies believe in many different things, but overall we try to practice what we preach! We become vegans because we care about animal rights and we take short showers to save the environment. Why, then, do we promote feminism and healthy ideas of masculinity while listening to music that objectifies women and hyper-masculinizes men?

The Oberlin music scene should represent what Obies believe in. Some people think it’s hard to find fun music with a respectful message, but there are plenty of alternatives! To experience one such alternative, come to the R-E-S-P-E-C-T Dance and see how fun it is to dance to respectful music! It’s this Friday, May 13, from 9 to 11p.m. in Shepherd Lounge (second floor of Asia House). Light refreshments served, no cost. Sponsored by the Ecumenical Christians of Oberlin.

–Krissy Welch, College sophomore –Anita Peebles, College freshman