We all know that many people feel artists like Rihanna and Beyonce are famous not only for their music, but also their sex appeal. The two powerhouses constantly push the envelop when it comes to their provocative lyrics and fashion choices. Although Beyonce has stated numerous times that she prides herself on being a feminist, other women have taken issue with the stance and her version of feminism. On the other hand, we have Rihanna, who doesn’t seem to care what anyone thinks, and lives her life the way she wants to.
But there are a new crop of R&B artists looking to take the stage and prove they don’t have to show off their assets to gain fame and fans.
A recent piece on the Independent, discusses how artists like Sza, Jhene Aiko, Jessy Lanza and Rosie Lowe are making music without having to sexualize their bodies, making “good” role models for young girls to look up to.
British Singer Lowe, had this to say:
“We’re a generation of women making our own music without having to sexualise our bodies,” announces Rosie Lowe, the Devon-born singer, writer and producer whose Right Thing EP drew praise last year for its “off-centred soul”.
She notes the need to provide an example for a young audience. “There’s a generation out there who don’t have that many role models who aren’t using their bodies. The more we can offer an alternative, the better.”
She says Rihanna and Beyoncé reinforce stereotypes. “They’re the main culprits because they’re so in the mainstream,” she says. “I agree that your body is your own, but I do think they have a responsibility. They’re making young women think, to get where they are, they have to twerk or use their bodies, and it’s not true. It’s scary and damaging.”
Rosie Lowe is also disappointed to see an artist she admires reduced to cavorting: “I’m a huge fan of Beyoncé, but I do find it really sad how sexualised the visuals are,” she says. “My view is, if you’re watching it and you feel uncomfortable, it’s gone too far. You shouldn’t be making your female audience feel uncomfortable about their bodies by over-sexualising your own.”
Here’s the thing, what one singer does, shouldn’t take away from what you do. I’m not sure why these singers are on the attack. As far as role models, it’s up to parents to parent their children. Growing up, an entertainer wasn’t even a thought when it came to who I named as a role model.
Kelela Mizanekristos, another artist shared similar views:
Sounding like I have agency in a song is important to me. I want to feel empowered by the music.” “Empowerment” and “agency” are key words for Kelela. They are what separate her from her peers in the charts.
“Maybe Rihanna’s agency comes in through her choice of songs,” she wonders, adding: “But there are things that aren’t a priority for her.” For Kelela, the priority is being fully involved with the songwriting and production process.
I also find it interesting that the world only seems to be worried about female R&B artists being sexualized, when there are artists like Usher, who can write a song about blow jobs and no one blinks. But I guess that’s the way of the world.
Clutchettes, do you think R&B deserves a make-under, to make it less “sexy”?