Queen Latifah's lyrics tout female superiority. Salt 'n Pepa energize with eroticism. Julie Brown's unsettling version of a campus queen dethrones the mainstream icon. Martina McBride's song of liberation gives new meaning to Independence Day. Today in the music video industry such women artists have assumed a remarkable and refreshing new presence.
Although many popular videos have been condemned for sexism, the medium has experienced a striking change. Both in repertoires and in performances the politics of feminism has moved to the front row. More and more, women are being presented as strong and positive.
Ladies First takes a close look at this exciting phenomenon and shows how both on and off screen strong females have assumed larger roles in the industry. Whether their songs are country, rock, or rap, the ladies of contemporary music video continue to assert, confront, and challenge.
Demolishing stereotypes, today's singers expose the flawed images that have restricted women. They condemn male dominance. They assert the right of women to be sexual and to express sexuality. In country music, they rely on the power of sincerity and storytelling. In rap songs they self-promote, reach out, and give uplift. Their lyrics are skillful, clever, and infectiously appealing, and their inviting sense of humor makes a large audience embrace them and their messages.
Robin Roberts is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of English and women's and gender studies at Louisiana State University. She is the author of Sexual Generations: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and Gender; Anne McCaffrey: A Critical Companion; A New Species: Gender and Science in Science Fiction; and Anne McCaffrey: A Life with Dragons.