Pop Music: An Avenue for Female Empowerment Through the Ages

Female artists are using their power and dominance within the field of pop music to shine light on issues affecting women.


In regards to music, women within the music industry have continuously expressed
themselves freely. A good portion of pop music created by women always has
some type of special message. It might be intentionally political in regard to a social issue or
unintentionally social in regards to something that goes on within their personal life that others might relate to. While reading The Early Modern World to the Present for a class upon the discussions of music, culture and visual arts within the global a point arose.

The point I felt compelled to expand upon states that “Musical and visual arts have become
increasingly significant vehicles for global activism. Critical of the status quo, artists work to
transform society by way of traditional media as well as through photography, video and digital

This point I believe is essential to the telling of how women use their musical platforms
to get these specific points within their lives as well as social issues in general across the world.
Some of the biggest names in music, think Beyonce, Megan thee Stallion, Lady Gaga, Ariana
Grande and so many others have used their music and their platforms as a significant vehicle for activism.

With the increase in technological resources within an ever growing digital world, it has allowed for a broader conversation within music as well as political criticisms of the art forms presented. This piece is an analysis on feminism through the lense of Pop Music.

So, what exactly is Pop Music? Pop music, shortened to “Popular Music”, is a specific genre of
music that encompasses all music that is popular. This includes many diverse styles of music. Pop
Music is very diverse. Multiple artists are able to participate in its structure and even redefine who
they are. Popular music, a common favorite of people all over world often has various forms of self definition as well. Recently the genre has been dominated by women. Women are often the main contributors to what dominates culture. Within pop music specifically, feminism shows up loud and clear. I believe that this should be examined and looked at closely.

As the world continuous to become more technological and opportunity and access to different art forms increases artists are able to put out more profound and political work. Society is also putting more of an emphasis on the importance of things like social activism and civics education in order to understand the broader world. With the world (seemingly) becoming more politically aware as well as more digital, it can become easy for artists to put out their most socially aware and active bodies of art yet.

Meg Thee Stallion
Meg Thee Stallion

Bigger artists often have unlimited amounts of access to some of the greatest visionaries and the platforms for so people to listen. Naturally this allows for things like political art to become more prominent. The 2010s saw a huge increase in this as this is the era in which technology began to tap into its fullest potential and forms.

One might wonder, what exactly does this have to do with how Feminism shows up in Pop
Music? Everything about the expansion of technology within music has everything to do with
feminism within popular music today. From breathtaking visuals to thought provoking lyrics.
Now in order to better understand feminism within popular music, one must better understand
the different societal issues at play. Women have historically gone through a lot of things
from not being able to vote to not being hired to not being paid at the same rates as men who do the same work. Naturally artists, who tend to write songs about their lives are able to convey these societal struggles through their music. And naturally, women the world over are able to relate.

A good example of this is Beyonce’s 2016 album Lemonade. Lemonade has been
regarded as one of the greatest modern day albums. The album stands as a political vehicle for black feminism as well as a vulnerable project encompassing her personal issues of infidelity within her own marriage. Beyonce then made an accompanying visual album which allowed her to explore her feelings on an even deeper level. Because of the ever growing streaming climate the album went viral globally and initiated global conversations around black feminism and feminism through the lense of marriage and possible infidelity. She also was able toadd to the conversation around feminism in a way that is more inclusive and tells the stories of black women’s struggles within society.

Beyoncé in Lemonade. Photo Credit: Beyoncé
Beyoncé in Lemonade. Photo Credit: Beyoncé

Lemonade is just one of the many examples of how artists are able to globally communicateand become activists through the use of digital literacy. Women often use their music as a form of art
in order to explain their experiences. Beyonce has done this multiple times in her career. With her music video “If I Were A Boy” she reverses the traditonal roles of men and women thus making it a commentary on gender. This video allows for a deeper conversation around gender roles within society. Multiple artists have also done this within their albums, however I chose to use Beyonce as a catalyst here because she has one of the most defining discographies in musical history.

Feminism can also be viewed in popular music with the ever growing sexual liberation
movement for women. More than ever, women have been becoming one with their sexuality within their music and portraying that through their art as vehicle for understanding and activism. The idea that only
men should be able to be sexual or hold power within society is slowly being erased. You
can see the sexuality and femininity components by viewing some of today’s most popular
music videos.

Nicki Minaj, Anaconda cover art
Nicki Minaj, Anaconda cover art

For example Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball and Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda, released respectively in 2013 and 2014 were two very huge records with accompanying music videos that put an emphasis on feminine sexuality and power. While at first they were criticized for being so explicit in their music, they are now praised and viewed as classics within society for uplifting feminine sexuality. Thanks to songs and videos like these, more women feel free to be sexualized in their music. These are examples of how music can be a catalyst for feminisim.

In conclusion, feminism in popular music is expanding globally and should be viewed in a
positive way. Female artists are using their power within society to shine light on
issues affecting women as well as uplifting other women. Female artists have been at their peak recently as they’ve been incorporating these important issues within their music. These albums and videos are a form of artistic contribution that embodies the humanistic tradition of our global and contemporary world. Their work contributes to feminist dialogue and culture thus uplifting millions of women everywhere.

Charnice Horne
+ posts

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: