Gender, race, class, and sexuality play important roles in all forms of art in past and present societies. In United States history, typically only white people were considered credible artists. For example, in the times of American slavery, traditional African modes of expression were not considered to be forms of art, even though spoken word, oral tradition, and African dances are crucial components of that culture. The slave owners tried to suppress the artistic expressions of their slaves, and would punish them for singing or dancing. In this case, racial prejudices prevented these artistic people from being considered â€œartists.â€?
The sexual objectification of women in art is one of the biggest cultural stereotypes that exist in our society. In current male music videos, for example, women wearing very little clothing surround the singer, eyeing him coyly and smiling seductively. In the videos of some of todayâ€™s most popular songs, women merely lay in seductive positions, allowing themselves to be the â€œobjectâ€? and not the â€œsubject.â€? In hip hop, in particular, female artists have struggled with the balance of their image as a singer: are they too girly to get their message across or too masculine to be taken seriously as a woman? Even though society accepts female artists now, women still face, and will probably always face, difficulties with being taken seriously.