Fresh calls for age ratings on pop videos

Miley Cyrus's twerking focuses national outrage on the sexualised and racist nature of what under-18s get to see

Sarah Morrison
Sunday 10 November 2013 01:00
Miley Cyrus' mow infamous performance with Robin Thicke has sparked fresh debate
Miley Cyrus' mow infamous performance with Robin Thicke has sparked fresh debate

It only took one twerking dance to spark international outrage. Pundits weighed in, singers wrote open letters, and hastily tweeted reactions added fuel to the flames.

Now the debate about the increasingly sexualised portrayal of women in the music industry is to be addressed at Westminster. A new online campaign called Rewind&Reframe, which will call on the industry and David Cameron to address the issue, will be launched by MPs tomorrow.

The campaign is expected to champion the introduction of age ratings on music videos, as recommended by the Bailey Review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood.

The debate has been caused by Miley Cyrus's sexually and racially charged twerking dance for Robin Thicke's chart-topping single "Blurred Lines", which described one woman as an "animal" who "wants it". After Cyrus's performance, singers including Annie Lennox and Sinead O'Connor hit out at the depiction of women in videos. The campaign will ask ordinary women to share their views about the sexualised nature of some mainstream music videos.

The Labour MP Kerry McCarthy, who will be chairing tomorrow's event, told The Independent on Sunday that the campaign wants to examine the "cultural impact" that sexualised depictions of women have on "the attitudes" of boys and girls who watch them.

"When I was young, videos showed Abba wearing tight Lycra trousers and wriggling their bottoms – now, it has become more sexualised," Ms McCarthy said. "We're being convinced there must be some harmful impact of this, even if it's just some women feeling more vulnerable and insecure. I'm particularly interested whether it has an impact on male behaviour. Anecdotally, there is evidence to suggest it does."

Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism, welcomed the campaign, adding that the lyrics in some songs are becoming "increasingly sexually violent, ramming home the idea that sex is about forcing women to do things and men getting what they want".

While age ratings on music videos has been offered as one safeguard, Justine Roberts, the founder of Mumsnet, said: "These days it's pretty nigh on impossible to stop under-18s viewing and sharing this kind of material, so as parents it's important to talk about what's wrong with it."

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