Eminem Makes Sexism Seem Sexy – And That’s A Problem

“Eminem and Rihanna Collaborate to Address Domestic Violence,” reads one headline.


The phrase “address domestic violence” rings of efforts to decrease it.

Is that the message of “Love the Way You Lie”?

Rihanna begins:

Just gonna stand there
And watch me burn
But that’s alright
Because I like
The way it hurts

Eminem joins, mouthing these words:

As long as the wrong feels right
It’s like I’m in flight
High of a love
Drunk from the hate

Rihanna’s lines are jarring since she broke up with Chris Brown after a brutal beating. She had said she wanted to be a good role model for girls and young women. These lyrics send a very different message.

Eminem’s words fit his history of domestic brutality. In concerts past he sent an inflated doll resembling his wife into his audiences to be batted around. In 2008 he told Esquire, “I’m a T-shirt guy now. But wifebeaters won’t go out of style, not as long as bitches keep mouthing off.”

Megan Fox plays the sexy battered lead in the music video, where frames shift from abuse to making love, and back again. The video has had nearly 20,000,000 hits on YouTube.

All involved seem to want it both ways. Eminem and Rihanna said they wanted to start a conversation, while Megan Fox donated her salary from the shoot to Sojourn House, which helps abused women.

But the overall effect romanticizes violence against women.

That makes sexism feel sexy.

Unfortunately, that makes both women and men more accepting of it.

Georgia Platts

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 12, 2010, in feminism, gender, men, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I am also shocked at the amount of messages in the media and music that put women down. In many ways, society’s norms subjugate women. They are given nick names like “sweetie,” “pumpkin,” “cookie,” “sugar,” “kitten,” “baby,” that liken women to pets, objects, and foods. That baby talk and the feeling of needing to protect the weaker sex are apart in many songs. Similarly, rape, sexual harassment and abuse have become such buzzwords, appearing regularly in television shows, like in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It is good that they are being talked about, discussed as important issues, and are no longer kept quiet or under the table. However, too much air-time is turning it into old news. It’s becoming so normal to hear about rape and abuse that it is trivialized. Questions come up like, maybe they deserved it?

    My Man –Billie Holiday 1938

    …Two or three girls
    Has he
    That he likes as well as me
    But I love him

    I don’t know why I should
    He isn’t true
    He beats me, too
    What can I do?

    Oh, my man, I love him so
    He’ll never know
    All my life is just despair
    But I don’t care
    When he takes me in his arms
    The world is bright
    All right

    Billie Holiday spoke through her music about being controlled and hurt in her relationships. At that time period, it was new to even mention abuse and subjugation. Yet she often emphasized loving him no matter what. Perhaps she stated that she didn’t mind and would love her man anyway as a qualifier, keeping her safe from controversy and public outrage. She started the ball rolling by getting the issue onto the radio and into people’s homes. However, it seems like today’s generation hasn’t yet taken it to the next level. We still depict violence and abuse towards women in the media, but continue to accept it and qualify it and treat it like it is okay. It is romanticized in glossy fashion magazine photoshoots, sexualized music videos and addictive popular music. This music becomes the heartbeat of the today’s young people and its messages teach kids what society accepts. It endorses sexism as “cool.” Sexism is not okay, and women should be getting messages that tell them to stand up for themselves and not accept put downs or abuse. I’m waiting for today’s pop artists to cry out in rage, “I will not take this!”

  1. Pingback: Cheerleader Ordered To Cheer Her Rapist, and Other Stories | BroadBlogs

  2. Pingback: Why Are We More Offended By Racism Than Sexism? | BroadBlogs

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