Third Wave Of Feminism - Objectification Of Women's Images And Depiction In Mainstream Media Pop Culture



Feminists all around the world are quietly but deliberately changing representations of women that they believe are oppressive or restricting. 


Popular culture is a key vehicle for spreading both negative messages and emancipated or freeing images of women. 



For example, in Brazil, campaigners developed a soap opera starring sexually empowered women, which has a large national viewership. 


  • Sociologists have linked the soap's depiction of progressive pictures of women to a reduction in the number of births and a shift in divorce rates, which they attribute to the soap's portrayal of progressive images of women. 

From 1977 until 2006, the Madres de Square de Mayo of Argentina wore white head scarves and marched around a public plaza weekly in a far more overt gesture of political protest. 


  • They were protesting their children's "disappearance" in Argentina's Dirty War and elsewhere. 
  • Their demonstration, like most feminist action, was expressly devoted to peace and justice, but they altered social and cultural expectations about women's involvement in politics by protesting. 
  • They also provided a fresh perspective on parenting and posed questions about women's responsibilities throughout the world. 

Other women's organizations have followed their lead, and some have even adopted their tactics to raise awareness about the consequences of war, demonstrate for peace, and continue the fight for human rights. 



In popular culture, African American and Latino children often encounter problematic role models. Rap and hip hop music are full of dehumanizing, objectifying, violating, and exploiting words.

  • Musicians who live extravagant, reckless, and violent lives are frequently loved and imitated, while pimping and prostitution, reducing women to body parts, and other demeaning acts are also praised.
  • One third-wave method to combating sexism is hip hop feminism. 
    • Hip hop feminism seeks for ways to validate one's self-worth and respect African American and Latino cultures within the larger American cultural scene. 



In her book Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism, Patricia Hill Collins delves into the sexual stereotypes surrounding African Americans (2005). 


  • She demonstrates how white femininity is constructed on the sacrifice of women of color as jezebels and other discarded representations of women. 
  • Rap and hip hop music that degrades women as sexual objects not only reflects but also perpetuates racism and sexism in the past. 
  • Recognize how a history of racism has led to a culture full of self-loathing and mistrust, which is frequently reflected in rap and hip hop music as part of the process. 


Internalized or psychological oppression may be helpful in this situation. 


  • Black or Latino women may internalize the degrading sexualized identities prevalent in hip hop culture, or others may utilize these identities to define and restrict them. 
  • Fighting back requires not just altering the message, but also unlearning ingrained identities. 
  • Hip hop feminism stresses the need of addressing the issue on many fronts. 

Whites and blacks must fight the temptation to embrace the repressive images of hip hop culture as definitive, and music consumers must boycott the rich record companies and musicians that benefit from the dehumanization of black and Latina women. 



The creation of a new aesthetic is one of the methods proposed by hip hop feminists and other feminists concerned with the intersections of race and gender. 


  • A new aesthetic finds beauty not in comparison to white, European physical and artistic standards, but in accordance with real African American men and women – young and old – who are beautiful and whose artistic accomplishments are admirable, echoing the ‘Black is Beautiful' movement of the 1960s and 1970s as well as the Harlem Renaissance of the early twentieth century. 
  • Positive female portrayals in hip hop culture are becoming increasingly prevalent, and most black women, understandably, reject degrading images in their personal lives. 
  • Writing and publishing poetry and prose - asserting one's identity as an artist – is also part of the new aesthetic within Latina feminism. 



Activists can often transform negative images of women and unhealthy messages about personal relationships or political roles into more open, diverse, and accepting portrayals of women and the many ways women act in society by using popular culture instead of (or in addition to) more overt forms of feminist argument. 

Hip hop feminism proposes methods for men and women to assist and love one another as "brothers" and "sistas."


You may also want to read more about Feminism and Activism here.



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