The Current State of Sexism, Homophobia/Heterosexism By: NABIHA SHAIKH

Table Of Contents

  1. "I Ain't Your Mama" - Jlo
  2. "Summer" - Calvin Harris
  3. Snickers Commercial
  4. "Hey Mama"
  5. American Apparel
  6. The current state of Sexism paragraph
  7. Works Cited

This music video "Ain't Your Mama", by Jennifer Lopez shows various examples of sexism and heterosexism throughout the track. The music video aims to empower women and fight off stereotypes of women in the household and workplace. It empowers women to take control of themselves rather than being the ones controlled and taken for granted. Although this music video spreads the message effectively in my opinion, it still includes sexist and heterosexist ideas, for example, when the lyrics read, “I ain’t gon’ be cooking all day, I ain’t your mama/ I ain’t gon do your laundry, I ain’t your mama”, this implies that women do the following chores and essentially makes the assumption that men do nothing and rely on women to complete those tasks. This sends the wrong message that men rely on women to keep order in the household because they are unable to do it themselves, whereas it is somehow shown as being “easy” for women to balance both jobs at home, and at work. The music video also reinforces heterosexist ideas such that heterosexual relationships are the only unions of marriage that exist, that they are superior to all other relationships, and that heterosexual couples are the only ones who face the dilemma of relationship problems. Ultimately, this music video affects the way people may think about heterosexual relationships and the different roles individuals play in society which results in the creation of false representations.

2. "summer" - CALVIN HARRIS

In the music video by Calvin Harris, the song “Summer”, shows a strong example of sexism throughout the track. The music video includes several scenes and images of women being overly sexualised such that they are seen as sexual objects to men. In the beginning, we see a woman dressed in lingerie on the balcony, a woman in bed and in the bathtub, a woman walking down the hallway, and plenty of other women in the midst of street racing. The music video draws attention to the portrayal of women in traditional gender roles in popular culture, where the men in this music video are representing characters of power and dominance, whereas women are seen as objects put on display for the audiences pleasure. Not only that, but the camera generally puts more focus on women’s body parts especially the breasts and the butt, causing them to be further sexualised. The music video continuously objectifies women and portrays unrealistic beauty standards especially to a younger audience, and causes them to believe that they must look a certain way to be considered beautiful and sexually attractive. Ultimately, the music video creates a misrepresentation of female sexuality and women in general, by reinforcing sexist stereotypes of women as sex symbols due to them being objectified, and also by creating unrealistic beauty standards for female viewers.


This Snickers commercial featuring Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Menzial displays a highly homophobic message to its audience. In the commercial we see Johnny Menzial teaching a fitness class to middle aged women. He plays the character of a man with a high pitched squeaky voice that wears tightly fitted athletic wear, making him presumably gay. He is heard saying, “Come on gang, work those thighs” and “Whose got a pelvis?” for added humour, however this reinforces homophobic stereotypes that all gay men have high pitched voices, act and talk like women, and wear colourful, tightly fitted clothing. In the midst of teaching this class, another football player enters and hands him a snickers chocolate bar and says “Hey man. Eat a Snickers because you’re Johnny Menziel”. This implies that Johnny’s current states is “abnormal” and that he must eat a snickers bar to become normal again, further implying that being gay is not normal and that being homosexual can somehow be fixed. Ultimately this commercial will affect the way the audience will see members of the LGBTQ community and will view them as being different and not normal in society, as well as reinforcing the stereotype that all gay men are the same.

4. "Hey mama"

In the music video by David Guetta, featuring Nicki Minaj and Baby Rexha, the song “Hey Mama” shows several examples of sexism throughout the video and lyrics. When analyzing the lyrics it can be seen that the song reinforces significant sexist stereotypes about women such as how they are easily manipulated and controlled, how they play the role of a housewife, and how they are continuously sexually objectified. For example, the lyrics read “Yes I’ll be your woman/Yes I’ll be your baby/Yes I’ll be whatever that you tell me when you’re ready”, which shows how men are dominant to women, and how easily women are controlled by men. The lyrics, “Best believe that, when you need that/ I’ll provide that, you will always have it”, prove how women are being controlled and used as sexual objects by men; that whenever a man “needs that”, a woman is always there to provide him with it when speaking about sex. Lastly, the lyrics “Yes I do the cooking/Yes I do the cleaning/Plus I keep the na-na real sweet for your eating/Yes you be the boss and yes I be respecting”, prove how women are expected to do the cooking and cleaning therefore playing the role of a housewife, while at the same time providing their significant other with his/her sexual needs. The music video on the other hand also reinforces these stereotypes when women are given outfits to flaunt every aspect of their body, and also when women are placed next to men to enhance the males’ dominance and masculinity to show how women are at their service. Ultimately, this music video significantly reinforces sexist stereotypes about women in society while negatively portraying women’s roles.


This American Apparel advertisement reading “NOW OPEN, is highly controversial for its sexist message towards women. The photograph of the woman, with her legs spread out, and the caption, together send the wrong message to the audience. American Apparel is using this image and caption to capture a large audience but is unknowingly spreading the message that the brand is highly sexist towards women by overly sexualizing and objectifying them to gain views for their brand. The ad is highly likely to cause serious offense to many viewers and the reason is self explanatory. The ad heightens the impression that women are vulnerable as seen through the sexual pose of the models legs being spread out as well as through her blank expression. Because this is a known brand, and because the ad has most likely reached a large audience, it sends a very wrong message to young women; that women are sexual objects and are “open” for anyone and everyone to use. Ultimately this ad is highly sexist because of his portrayal of women as sexual objects in society.

The word sexism, describes the idea that one gender is superior to another. In other words, it is a structure of conscious and unconscious ideas that people hold onto due to socialization from family and friends, their culture, or institutional settings. Sexism includes the mind-set, beliefs, values, stereotypes, and other types of bias that maintain the idea that women are of lesser value and importance than men; this ultimately guides human interaction and behaviour towards individuals of the opposite gender.

Sexist stereotypes or gender stereotyping is the generalization of characteristics of a group of people based on gender. Gender stereotypes create a set of judgments and bias that supposedly apply to each gender however, this is highly unacceptable because it causes people to make unfair and unjust statements and assumptions about a person on the basis of his/her gender. Even if these individuals do not fit in with the category they are still discriminated against because they don’t conform to societies’ norms. The most familiar stereotypes made about women are about their personality, behaviour, occupation, and physical appearance. For example, women are supposedly shy and submissive, are supposed to do household chores and play the role of a stay-at-home mom or work as teachers, secretaries, etc, and are expected to be thin and delicate. These stereotypes play an important role in shaping the way many individuals choose to see women which are ultimately reflected through the commercials, music videos, and ads we see. Women are continuously being poorly treated, sexually objectified, controlled and misused by men portraying a highly negative image to the large audiences viewing these forms of media as seen in the American Apparel ad, “Hey Mama”, and “Summer” music videos.

The idea of sexism has become a trend in music videos, advertisements and commercials, so much so, that it has even become part of politics and elections, occupations, and even sports such as the Olympics. For example, we can see this in the US presidential elections when people became hesitant to the idea that the United States could have its first female president, Hillary Clinton. Because people stuck to their prejudices and bias against a woman leading an entire nation, it became one of the reasons she lost a few of her votes. In the Olympics we see this when female athletes are constantly being compared to their male counterparts or when they referred to as being married or unmarried when asked about their relationship status.

The concept of sexism creates the idea that everyday social interactions, sexist or not, are connected to larger issues such as sexual harassment or discrimination in society. Ultimately, sexism is more than just the things we do and say; that no matter what one does to stop sexist thoughts, speech, and actions, thry will always exist and remain in society.

Works cited
  • Bush, Daniel. PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.
  • Driscoll, Brogan. "American Apparel Adverts Banned: 'Sexual And Objectifying' Images Show Models Half Naked (PICTURES)." The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 2013. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.
  • "Women in Music Videos: Self-Objectifying or Objectively Empowering?" Entity. N.p., 2016. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.
  • Https:// "Yet another supremely homophobic TV commercial from Snickers." AMERICAblog News. N.p., 2015. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.
Created By
Nabiha Shaikh


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