I’ve taken days-long trips across the US before, but I don’t remember such a recurring musical announcement of female self-worth. Songs titled “Born this Way,” “Lovely,” and “[Expletive] Perfect” glorify self-acceptance. This latter song, by Pink, croons “You’re so mean when you talk/ about yourself, you are wrong/ Change the voices in your head/ Make them like you instead.”
Female empowerment through music isn’t new, of course. Madonna built an empire by asserting her independence. But her tone was different. Her songs “Material Girl” and “Like a Virgin” communicated that she likes expensive things and time in the sheets.
Granted, the messages of today’s female pop stars aren’t always the stuff of enlightened self-respect. Katy Perry’s song “Last Friday Night” celebrates vaguely recalled, alcohol-primed flings with multiple partners.
Similarly, the artist Rihanna seems to celebrate her libido much more than any self-efficacy she possesses. Esquire magazine wrote in November that her sensuality is such that “Rihanna doesn’t really dance,” but rather how she moves on stage “amounts to choreographed oozing.” Rihanna is Esquire’s 2011 “Sexiest Woman Alive,” and she didn’t lure this laurel by being profound.