I really wish I hadn’t seen Kanye West’s leaked music video for his hit song Monster. I was horrified, furious, livid, angry, and sad; I actually didn’t even get through the whole video the first time I saw it. The sexualized, eroticized, fetishized violence against women and sexist and racist stereotypes is nothing other then blatant misogyny and anyone who thinks otherwise clearly doesn’t understand what misogyny means.
Related Links and Articles:
- “I’m So Done Defending Kanye” by Samhita
- So Decapitated Women are Fine with you Kanye West? from Melinda Tankard Reist
- For analysis on the “sexy dead woman” trope in the media see More Sexualized Violence in Fashion at Sociological Images and Top Model’s Beautiful Corpses: the Nexus of Reality TV Misogyny and Ad Industry Ideology by Jennifer Pozner at WIMN’s Voices
- Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology by Allan G. Johnson
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Transcript “Kanye West’s Monster Misogyny”
Song: “Are you willing to sacrifice your life?”
When Kanye West’s music video for his hit song Monster was recently leaked on the Internet it generated an enormous amount of controversy because of the depictions of women in it. The video is reprehensible, I really don’t suggest going and watching it if you can avoid it because I really wish that I hadn’t seen it.
To give you a sense of it, this video is built on this whole “Sexy Dead Woman” trope, which seems to be popping up a lot lately. Throughout the video we are presented with a series of lifeless, nearly naked, mutilated women’s bodies. We see women, or parts of women, all white, draped across sofas, propped up in beds, hanging from nooses, and all with perfectly applied make up and high heels. In addition to the sexualized, dismembered body parts, we’re also treated to Kanye holding up a freshly severed head.
In another scene Kanye is pictured lying in his bed, rearranging the lifeless bodies of two lingerie clad corpses. The Black women in the video aren’t dead like the White women are, rather they’re evil, cannibalizing, Kanye attacking, man-eating, demons. So let’s recap, White women: eroticized, mutilated and dead. Black women: animalistic, savage demons.
Monster is a single from his number one hit album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”.
So whose to blame? Kanye clearly, but also Roc-A-Fella Records, Universal Music Group, the entire music industry, and how the market functions in general. Record labels have a goal of trying to get their artists to stick out of the crowd in an oversaturated media landscape. For decades they have been making sexualized, shocking, violent media products. More and more we see the industry cynically relying on sensationalism and glamorization of violence against women in order to boost sales.
I’m not gonna get into a shot by shot analysis of the video and the imagery used, in fact I’m not even gonna show it. This shouldn’t have to be said and sadly it does need to be said. This is misogyny. And that should make us all rightfully angry.
And perhaps this would be a good time to define misogyny because there seems to be some confusion about the word in relation to Kanye’s video. First, when we talk about women, we mean full and complete human beings and all that that entails. Misogyny as defined by the Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology “is a cultural attitude of hatred for females simply because they are female. It is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies. Misogyny is manifested in many different ways from jokes to pornography to violence to the self-contempt women may be taught to feel toward their own bodies.”
Again, misogyny can take many forms both subtle and obvious. This video is an example of misogyny at its most obvious which Kanye excuses by saying it was a way to generate “controversy and sales”. Like Samhita in her Feministing article, “If he really wanted to take the scene by storm, he should treat women like human beings, that’ll shock ‘em”.
Monster not only reduces women to sexual objects and perpetuates racist stereotypes but it actually fetishizes the aspects of women that don’t even require us to be physically alive. I think that bares repeating, this video fetishizes the aspects of women that don’t even require us to be physically alive.Song: “…got the lowest self esteem, the prettiest people do the ugliest things for the road to riches and diamond rings.”