Slutwave: Pop Phenomenon Or Feminist Scourge?

Categories: Pop Life

"Every generation needs a new revolution."

- Thomas Jefferson

Kesha A-thumb-560x373 jan13.jpg
Marc Brubaker
Ke(Dollar Sign)ha at House of Blues, July 2010
As one of the few women on the Rocks Off writing team, we were fervently proud to take an introspective stab at the new, curiously named micro-genre that 2010 bestowed upon us: Slutwave.

Believed to have been coined by Brooklyn blog Hipster Runoff, and since endorsed by Rolling Stone, the term describes the domination of female pop solo artists in the '00s. More specifically, it depicts those women performers who favor sex appeal - suggestive dancing, scant clothing, explicit lyrics - to promote their career over their actual music. Consensus examples include Katy Perry, Ke(Dollar Sign)ha (evidently the unofficial Queen of Slutwave) and, according to some, even Lady Gaga.

Slutwave aims to describe female artists who hesitate to consider that their music can independently speak for itself, and instead shed their clothes in an effort to gain attention and, ultimately, record sales. It's hard not to take a second glance or second listen when Katy Perry and her shapely assets are spread naked atop a fluffy cotton-candy cloud.

Of course, the idea that 'sex sells' is nothing new, and is sadly proven accurate year after year; but it's these gals who are upholding such an archaic concept.

Madonna almost never covered herself up; in fact, she embraced and flaunted her sexuality, wearing lace corsets and cones on her boobs, and I've never second-guessed her talent; point being, dressing scantily does not necessarily preclude lack of ability. Female musicians like Debbie Harry and Pat Benatar also embodied talent while confidently sporting risqué attire; it's artists like these women who have made it possible for successful acts like Lady Gaga to even exist.

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If a woman chooses to dress freely and provocatively - "sluttily," what have you - she has every right to do so (the same as any man). But some young women performers out there must feel the pressure to dress and act this way to be desired and thus successful; the best case in point right now would probably be Miley Cyrus. Then again, which artist who willingly opts to enter this business doesn't desire attention?

Nevertheless, it's a dichotomy: Female artists are confidently flaunting their bodies, having fun, and making money, of which Rocks Off is wholly supportive - proud, even - but it begs the question whether the act is genuine or masking a certain degree of insecurity and perceived social pressure.

Perhaps the real question regarding these entertainers is what greater good are they serving. Of course, pop music doesn't necessarily have to serve any higher purpose than producing music, and Slutwave-categorized singers are responsible for producing some of the catchiest pop we've heard in years. However, considering modern music's leading women begs the inevitably natural comparison to those of decades past.

It seems that every decade or so, a novel incarnation of women in music comes along. Most recently notable is the radical musical and political revolution brought on by the Riot Grrrl movement of the early '90s.


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19 comments
Pixy
Pixy

Pink and Janet do not get enough attention. Yes they sing about sex love, life, family, friends, and even standup against the president (baby Bush), ignorancy, prejudices, and equal rights. These girls are strong and focused just like me. No one wants a sincere woman, when they can exploit stupidity and classlessness.

Remi Online
Remi Online

well, i see what you're saying about katy perry(she's hot), but lady gaga?she's creepy, even more creepy than amy winehouse..

dwong
dwong

"and, according to some, even Lady Gaga."

EVEN Lady Gaga? Are you kidding? She's the skankiest one of them all.

Kikrthecat
Kikrthecat

I wouldnt say that they are "confidently" flaunting their bodies-. Seems more they are hoping to distract with sexuality, because they really fear that theya re not all that.As far as having every right to dress sluttily , the same as any man--what man in music has dressed on that same level? Tight jeans maybe, no shirt--thats about as far as they go unless they are in the line up for Chippendales. Most men confidently assume their talent and ability is enough and is usually is!

Web Teevee
Web Teevee

Ke$ha's music is more offensively and aggressively superficial, defining her existence on the love and acceptance of a man. She sings about getting drunk, partying with friends, talking about/with boys, being obsessed with boys. Not to mention that her voice makes me want to tear my ears off.

NLE December 2010 Result -> http://bit.ly/nle-december2010...

Ken
Ken

CARLA AZAR from Autolux. Falls far from the slutwave genre, and is basically the band's biggest asset along with possibly the most innovative rock drummers right now. She sings occasionally.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Carlostorresortiz
Carlostorresortiz

what about artist like metric the ting tings paramore has a strong female lead and so does flyleaf. the musical examples for women are there, they are just not getting the attention they truly deserve and the same can be said for the female leaders back in the day

Craig
Craig

I touch myself when I listen to Tik-Toc, That's my girl, Keesha little darling.

Katy Perry on the other hand is a stupid ditz. My 3 y/o heard "I kissed a girl" and said "that's stupid".

And Lady Blah Blah? I grew up on Skinny Puppy and Ministry. That girl don't know what hard core is.

Kyle
Kyle

The problem with Katy Perry isn't necessarily what she's wearing, but rather what she's saying. In one song she reinforces heteronormative gender roles, complaining that her boyfriend wears certain clothes and does certain things and is therefore gay. 'You're so gay and you don't even like boys' and wishes that he'd choke himself with his H&M scarf ("UR So Gay"). Later she exploits male fetishism of female bisexuality with I Kissed A Girl. Then she has the audacity to accuse Lady Gaga of exploiting religion, which isn't surprising given that both her parents are preachers.

Ke$ha's music is more offensively and aggressively superficial, defining her existence on the love and acceptance of a man. She sings about getting drunk, partying with friends, talking about/with boys, being obsessed with boys. Not to mention that her voice makes me want to tear my ears off.

Lady Gaga has always made clear her reasons for the outrageous costumes: to create a safe space for her fans to experiment and to feel free to express themselves and dress how they want. Furthermore, her lyrics are heavily feminist and accepting of alternative lifestyles, and she makes every effort to reinforce it in interviews. Some of her songs are about women who step into typically male behavior, women who aggressively pursue what they want. Gaga concerts feel more like a motivational speech sometimes because she's taking breaks in between songs to expand on her worldview, and to confront bigotry.

In short I think that Katy Perry and Ke$ha are encouraging women to define themselves in a man while Lady Gaga is giving women permission to love em and leave em as they please.

Neph Basedow
Neph Basedow

"The same as any man" -- meaning the same principle/rights must exist for both men and women. If Slash wants to suddenly dress like a Chippendales dancer, he can; if Gaga wants to wear a bedazzled g-string, she can.

Guest
Guest

Oh man, that one random example of a female artist no one has ever heard of totally nullifies the argument that the 10-20 most popular female artists in the world right now are basically strippers with AutoTune.

Neph Basedow
Neph Basedow

Your three-year-old will start a revolution.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

"heteronormative gender roles"

Yessss! Talk dirty to me.

Seriously, though, thanks for "getting" it.

Kyle
Kyle

To spell out my point a little further, feminism from previous decades has sexually liberated women significantly, and certain artists are using that sexual liberation to spread a patriarchal and anti-feminist message, creating women who are stripped of their clothes but still hopelessly devoted to men to define themselves. A patriarchal coup of feminism, basically.

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