‘Let’s have more positive lyrics about women’
Akofa Anyidoho and Nana Dansowaa Kena-Amoah
Page 20, Entertainment
A forum dubbed The Reflection Workshop with Popular Artistes, which brought together researchers, popular artistes, disk jockeys and radio presenters to reflect on the messages encoded in popular song texts about women, was held at the Ellking Hotel in
In attendance at the workshop which was facilitated by Prof. Akosua Anyidoho, the Director of NYU in
The workshop was part of the research project, Changing Representations of Women in Popular Music, led by Prof. Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Head, Centre for Gender and Advocacy (CEGENSA) and Dr. Awo Mana Asiedu, Theatre Arts, both of the
Through an examination of the lyrics of some songs composed mainly by Ghanaian artistes, the participants found that the messages conveyed about women are often negative and tended to reinforce stereotypical societal perceptions of women. For example, they found that some of the songs focused on women’s bodies and portrayed them as sex objects, while others tended to portray women as fickle minded, unfaithful, money lovers, exploitative, competitive, gossips, submissive, jealous, etc.
The participants also found texts that portrayed positive images about women. For example, some of the texts reflected women as keepers of tradition and history, educators, counsellors, hardworking, virtuous, physically beautiful, virtuous, or as selfless and caring mothers/partners. Some of the lyrics on sexuality also portrayed positive notions of desire and female-male physical love. However, these positive representations in the collection of songs were by far fewer.
Discussing the negative representation of women in popular music, the resource person for the workshop, Prof. Akosua Anyidoho, stressed that such images might cause some girls and women to believe that those portrayals are what society expects of them, and they may fail to develop their potentials. She noted that popular music is a very powerful medium for (re)enforcing and dictating what is in vogue/fashionable or acceptable to society. Both the youth and adults look to popular music for relaxation and entertainment. The songs are played on radio and television, and in the latter case typically accompanied by musical videos which often depict women’s bodies through dance (often quite provocative).
Daily we hear music, booming from shops, restaurants, taxis, buses, lorries, etc. Social gatherings such as marriage ceremonies, naming ceremonies, funerals, commissioning of projects, etc. are deemed dull without music. Thus, the whole society, both young and old, is exposed to the songs and the messages musicians convey. The lyrics are repeated in daily conversations, and even children are heard repeating them during their play time in the streets, at school, or at home.
Based on the foregoing, the participants considered alternative representations of women. The artistes and the radio presenters agreed they needed to expose the public to songs that do not stereotype women. According to Diana Hopeson, President of Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), most songs about women are composed by men. She suggested therefore that women needed to be encouraged and supported to sing about themselves. There were calls to involve female musicians in setting new standards: to write alternative songs texts about themselves.
*** Editorial changes have been made to the original publication that was made in the Daily Graphic, as boldened in the article.