Dear Mr Cameron,
As a music fan, I love watching and sharing music videos. But I am sick of the sexist and racist stereotyping in some videos. A very famous example is Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke which shows naked women cavorting around fully clothed men and lyrics that seem to promote rape. Unfortunately, this video is one of many which portray women, especially Black women, as sex objects and men as sexual predators. Some of the videos by Miley Cyrus, Calvin Harris, and Justin Timberlake are perfect examples.
Many of my friends also really dislike these kinds of images and feel that they are harmful to our society. They contribute to a culture that says that women should not be treated as equals and with respect. There is considerable evidence from research that sexualisation in music videos creates a context in which violence against women and girls flourishes (Coy 2013).
This is why I am asking you to put age-ratings on videos, whether sold in shops or viewed online. The digital revolution means that sharing these images is far easier than in the past and so they have much wider impact. We are bombarded by music videos that are very sexually explicit and demeaning to women on social media, in bars, cafes and shops at all times of the day.
The Rewind&Reframe project is giving a platform for young women to speak out about the content and impact of music videos. We are calling on the music industry to stop creating these sexist and racist images and for video sharing sites not to host them. We also want to see all schools talk to young people about consensual and respectful relationships, and media literacy to counter the harmful messages they receive.
I know that you care deeply about the sexualisation of women and girls in the media and are taking action to tackle this. Your commitment to introducing age-ratings for music videos sold in shops is very welcome. For consistency, I would urge you to extend age-ratings to music videos viewed online also, as recommended by a Government commissioned review, because most people now watch and share videos this way.
This is not about censorship as music videos shown on TV, video games, films and ads are all regulated or have age-ratings so that there is guidance on sexually explicit images, and many harmful images are removed altogether. This same principle should apply to music videos online, linked to filters, so that there is a trusted guide about content. Many online platforms including iTunes and Netflix already carry BBFC age-ratings and content advice.
I hope that you will listen to the voices of young women and make this change so that we can enjoy music videos without being bombarded by these harmful images.
Many thanks in advance!
Ikamara from the Rewind&Reframe project (young women from around the UK working together online and off)