Popular Culture Analysis
Popular culture today highly upholds the aspect of gender differences. It perpetuates the idea that women and men are different. Magazine articles, songs, films, self-help books, television talks, and television sitcoms, all address the concept of gender differences. They show how gender differences have led to the differential treatment of men and women in employment and personal relationships, including marriage, and how these can be dealt. In popular culture, women are mostly presented stereotypically as people of simple minds, domesticated, and highly emotional. These stereotypes are perpetuated through different forms of media such as movies, cartoons, and television. However, today some elements of popular culture present men and women differently. These have served a different purpose of showing the changing gender roles in the society (Milestone & Meyer, 2012).
The song “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyoncé is an example of the songs in the pop culture, which carry gender connotations. This song portrays women as independent of men, strong, powerful, and domineering. On the other hand, men are portrayed as weaker than men, and taking orders and submitting to women. This song is some kind of hope to the womenfolk, since it praises women and brings them out as powerful, contrary to most songs in the popular culture, which portray women as weak and dependant on men. The singer preaches hope for the women in society, portraying women as having risen above the male dominance in society. That women today are independent and do not need men to complement them. This song is highly feministic and advices all women to take control of their lives, rather than being dominated by men.
In the video Beyoncé employs a lot imagery to bring out her theme of female dominance. For instance, she rides a horse, which then transits to flying in the air. This scene is a portrayal of power and dominance that women have in the society. The women featured in this video are dressed in lingerie and caps. This symbolises that they are powerful, yet still sexually appealing. The women dressed in lingerie and caps shows that women are not sex objects, but sexually dominant and can this to control men, which is to their own advantage.
In this song, Beyoncé also implies that women act submissively, giving in to the demands of men, and as well using their submissiveness to manipulate men. This is evident in the line, “My persuasion can build a nation.” The theme in this song carries female chauvinism, as Beyoncé emphasizes the alpha female. The lyrics also suggest that female dominance does not hurt as male dominance does. In addition, women rule the world yet still sacrifice a lot of things for men and the society in general. This is shown at the end of the video, where the women salute the men, meaning therefore, that women are better than men are. This song therefore brings out women as powerful, with positive dominance in the society.
Gender stereotypes have different psychological effects on both men and women. In this song, Beyoncé has portrayed men as the weaker sex and women as powerful and domineering. This is highly feministic as it focuses on the superiority of women, thus lowering men. This subsequently evokes different reactions from both sexes. Women will feel more superior, while men will feel less powerful. Quite a number of men are okay with gender equality. However, in the contemporary world, powerful women have dominated the pop culture, media, and political correctness and they publicly assert their dominance over men. This song is an example of this case, as Beyoncé is a powerful and influential woman in the world music industry and believes in dominance of women (Inness, 2004). With such a song, men feel that women are taking the advantage of ‘equality’ aspect to bash them. They thus develop a negative attitude toward all feminism.
In this song, Beyoncé has shown that men are fearful of women dominance, and tend to shy away from an empowered woman. This may in turn lead the lowering of men’s ego, and make men consider themselves as less competitive than women in the contemporary world. They may also develop a superiority complex and view women as a threat to them. In addition, men today have considered themselves as an endangered species, due to the rapid domineering of women in the society today. They may feel that women are now taking their “place” in society. These lines have attached so much importance to women. Beyoncé asserts that women are responsible for most important roles in the society, such as childbearing, home-keeping, office work, and can make their own money, yet manage to juggle all these responsibilities without support from men. This makes men feel inferior and consider their roles in society as inferior.
“How we’re smart enough to make these millions
Strong enough to bear the children
Then get back to business
Hope you still like me.” (Beyoncé, 2011).
The gender stereotypes in this song deliver inaccurate representations of both genders in real-life. This song depicts men negatively, while showing women to be superior. This in turn has an effect on the ego of women, as they will feel more powerful and more important than men. This way, they will disregard men in the society due to the assumption bore by this song that men are less powerful, and it is women who run the world. This kind of psychological wiring if it persists in society will not stabilize the understanding between men and women in society, thereby resulting in frequent gender-based conflicts. Currently, the mismatch between men and women, which is enhanced by such feminist songs and the changing roles of women in society, has led to many problems already. This song therefore propagates the battered image of the males in the society, which is demeaning to their ego (Fedorak, 2009).
This song may propagate or enhance the belief in men that women bash them, have double standard, and embrace female dominance. In this song, and the whole popular culture, especially television sitcoms, wives are portrayed as smarter than their husbands. Men are shown to be stay-at-home dads, while their wives are corporate women. This song may also propagate the thought in men that women are one-sided, and act like bosses, while expecting men to worship them. This enhances female chauvinism.
Aspects of gender keep changing in the society, including gender roles. This is because of the dynamics in the economy, which make men and women to adopt newer roles in the society. Popular culture has been instrumental in propagating stereotypes of the marginalized groups in society. However, popular culture also serves to preserve the cultures of cultural groups. For instance, in most world cultures, there is male dominance, and the popular culture propagates this through different mediums, which portray men as more powerful than women. Popular culture also highlights the changing roles of men and women. This is through mediums such as the highlighted song by Beyoncé, which shows the women climb the ladder of power as opposed to the past where they were powerless. Nonetheless, popular culture has its good and bad sides in its representation of men and women. People ought to embrace only the positive side of popular culture to avoid gender wars.
Beyoncé V. (2011). Run The World (Girls) Retrieved from
Inness, S. (2004). Action Chicks: New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture. London,
Fedorak, S. (2009). Pop Culture: The Culture of Everyday Life. New York, University of
Milestone, K. & Meyer, A. (2012). Gender and Popular Culture. New York, Polity.
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