In the past year, Americans have been bombarded with news stories about sexual-assault crimes and violent acts against women. The Ray Rice incident served as a catalyst for an increase in domestic violence awareness, a Gannett newspaper reported, and sexual assault on college campuses has garnered national attention through a White House initiative.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also just released data on sexual violence in the United States, as reported by CBS Philly, stating that "nearly 1 in 5" women have been raped. "And of those who reported being raped, 78.7 percent were first raped before the age of 25." The results also revealed "44 percent of women and approximately 23 percent of men reported experiencing some other form of sexual violence in their life."
Even as the movement addressing violence against women gains ground, a music video has been released by the pop-rock band Maroon 5, depicting stalking as a natural tendency of men toward women. The "Animals" music video released Sept. 29 depicts band member Adam Levine as a butcher who fixates on his female customer, played by Levine’s wife, Behati Prinsloo.
Maroon 5 appears unaware of the timing of the video release or the message it sends. About three weeks before the video release, Levine expressed to Access Hollywood his excitement about the "Animals" project. “I had this crazy idea … I don’t want to give it away, but it is really dark … It is more bizarre, weird, cool … It’s really crazy,” he said.
But activists against violence toward women don't share Levine's excitement.
"Maroon 5's video for 'Animals' is a dangerous depiction of a stalker's fantasy — and no one should ever confuse the criminal act of stalking with romance," RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) said in an official statement. "The trivialization of these serious crimes, like stalking, should have no place in the entertainment industry."
RAINN's statement has been followed by other criticism.
After learning the song's lyrics, Jess Denham from The Independent wrote, “The song’s message seems clear — that sexual predators have a natural, 'animal' lust for women that they are biologically unable to control."
The Pitt News, the University of Pittsburgh student newspaper, editorialized: "This dangerous concoction of violence and sexually charged media may propel men's potentially warped view of women — one that justifies sexual violence. … Thus, the lesson here should not be how women should do all they can to protect themselves from sexual violence. Rather, it should be that all women deserve to be viewed with respect. When that lesson becomes an unquestionable truth, we will see these trends finally dissipate."
Despite the outrage by advocates against sexual violence, Maroon 5’s video picked up an odd endorsement from the animal rights group PETA, MSN reported.
"Actually, we think Adam does a very convincing job of making slaughterers look deranged. … If anything, the video doesn't go far enough in showing the bloody horror of the meat industry and the misery that animals endure before their carcasses end up on a meat hook or butcher's chopping block," said PETA spokesman Ben Williamson, according to MSN's account of an interview with WENN.
While no one argues the video sends controversial messages, the targets of these messages from the music industry are a primary concern for families. BBC News reported in a Netmums poll last year that “82 percent (of parents) said their children had repeated sexual lyrics without knowing their meaning.”
The Netmums survey also found that 75 percent of the parents with daughters felt the sexualized music videos were teaching their daughters to be “judged on their looks, not their achievements or personality,” according to BBC News.
As for the parents with sons, "about half" reported that they feared the graphic footage "made their boys believe women were 'too sexually available' and that they should have 'unrealistic porn-star-style body shapes.'”
The music industry may be one of the strongest influences on children. For the Daily Telegraph, Justin Coulson, a parenting researcher, speaker and author, wrote, “I am sick of trying to teach my daughters how much they have to offer the world, only to have everything I say undermined by the sleazy, unhealthy message that someone with no respect for womanhood promotes to the mass market to make some more money. The wellbeing of our wives, sisters, and daughters is worth more than that. It's not OK.”