She waits on the set of the latest Cash Money video shoot. Fullyaware of what is expected of her, this so called “video girl” doesher job, then receives her payment. On the way home, shecontemplates whether females are exploited.
In many of today’s rap videos, there is a market for femalesexuality. “Sex sells. Females are being used for their sexualityto sell records, as well as other products,” Dr. Alfred White, alicensed professional counselor with Dillard’s Student SupportServices, said.
“The exploitation comes in when these rappers demean and takeadvantage of them,” he said. The females are being used, however,they are also being paid. According to Zandria Pinkney, a DUpsychology major, who has appeared in some videos, “The girl knowshow she will be treated; she knows how she’ll be classified.”
With a clear understanding of how the shoot will go, the femaleperforms in the video. “There are a variety of reasons why we dancein the videos,” Pinkney said. “Many girls dance for the exposure ora glamorous lifestyle. I use it as a stepping stone to dancing formajor artists” Lakaii Wilson, 20, a computer science major at DU,also performs in local videos. “I would not make it into a career,but it is something extra to do. It is definitely a positivething.”
Some viewers and other dancers, however, see treatment of thefemales as anything but positive. “The dancers are not consideredfemales; they are referred to as sluts or whores. The rappers haveno respect for the females,” said Pinkney. Wilson said that theamount of respect a female receives is based on how professionallyshe behaves. “It all depends on how she carries herself,” shesaid.
“The men may demean the girls, but the women are responsible forhow the men treat them,” Fallon Jackson, 21, a Xavier Universitymass communications major said. Marcus Gill, 24, a local productionassistant and mass communications major at Xavier agrees.”Ultimately, it lies in the female’s own hands. Accepting certainbehavior says that she is okay with it.”
Along with this viewpoint, Dr. White suggests other variablesthat contribute to the females being treated this way. “Multiplefactors contribute to the negative treatment of the girls,including the pursuit of financial gain, a glamorous lifestyle, anda lack of family accountability. The men pursue money and as aresult, they degrade the females. They know many of these womenneed the money, so they end up demeaning and exploiting them.”
For some females, including Jackson, the depiction of women assolely sexual beings has a negative effect on how she and otherfemales will be treated by men. “As black people, we do not havemany positive figures. A young black man will see how the rapperstreat a female, then gets her, and he will think that is how heshould approach a female,” she said. “Most times, their only methodof approach is to degrade a female.” According to DU biology major,Bichene Okorn, Jr., the videos heavily impact a male’s treatmenttoward a female. “Learned behavior from those negative influencessoon turn into compulsive behavior.”
Young males’ disrespectful behavior toward women forces femalesto accept the behavior or denounce it. “Some females act as ifthere is nothing wrong with men disrespecting them, and that is whymen continue to treat all of us so badly,” said Pinkney, who optsto perform fully dressed. Jackson agrees. “Women have definitelybecome desensitized; the negative behavior has become so commonthat sometimes females do not realize the depth to which they arebeing mistreated.”
In regards to entertainment, what may have once been consideredto be totally unacceptable is not only allowed, but possiblyembraced. “The tolerance level is higher, whereas the level ofdemand for respect is lowered,” said Okorn.
As the level of demand for respect is lowered, so is the levelof respect, said Dwayne Redd, a mass communications senior andrapper, producer and engineer. “I wouldn’t want my girlfriend in avideo.” Despite the reason the females perform in the videos, theymay possibly be perceived negatively. “The girl might evaluate howshe wants herself to be perceived,” said Dr. White. Though thefemale may value herself, not many people inquire about why shedances in the videos. “I do not see anything but her body. I do notsee her face or a story behind her performance,” said Dr. KevinBastian, Student Support Services director.
Some feel the women are exploited, whereas others do not.According to Dr. Bastian, “There is a trade-off. The female getspaid; the rapper gets a video. Where’s the exploitation? DeJuanCarter, 20, DU criminal justice major supports this viewpoint.”Those women are capable of making choices. She chooses to betreated how she is treated.” However, some females, outside of themusic video industry, complain that they do not choose to berandomly demeaned.
“Today, women are viewed as props. It will take some strongvoices to stop this onslaught of degradation toward females,” saidDr. Bastian. “Until females, as a whole, decide they want to betreated as ladies, they will continue to be treated as nothing morethan an object designed for the sole purpose of a man’s use.”