Sexism and Racism in Music Videos


Take Action!


Do you object to the racist and sexist way that women are portrayed in music videos- as exoticised, passive sex objects?

If you find music videos harmful, insulting or discriminatory, there are ways you can make your feelings known. This could mean the videos are edited or no longer shown, and can help to change the way women are shown in future.

Below is a guide to getting your voice heard, from direct or informal complaints, to contacting the regulators – OBJECT would love to know about any action you take. Please email us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., post on our Facebook wall or tweet us.

1.       Artists and record companies

It’s easier than ever to contact the artist directly- for example, are they on Twitter? If not, do they have an official website? These usually have a contacts page, and will often include details of the record company too. There have been effective campaigns that target sponsors/ You could even set up a petition on various websites  (like Change.org or the Government’s own e-petition site) and then spread the word via social media .

 Websites/apps (e.g. YouTube/iTunes)

Where did you see the video? In the same way that you can complain to the artists/record companies, you could contact the website or app that hosted it. They will have policies against harmful content; for example, YouTube have a policy against hate speech, including on the basis of race and gender, here, and a policy on nudity and sexual content here.

Even when policies don’t go far enough, your feedback can result in policies being changed- see therecent #FBrape campaign

2.       Regulators

There are rules governing the broadcast of music videos, and it’s up to regulators to decide whether the rules have ben obeyed or not: OFCOM and the Advertising Standards Authority.

OFCOM covers videos broadcast on TV, e.g. on a dedicated music channel like MTV or as part of a normal programme on any other channel. They take action against the channel if it breaches their Broadcasting Code.

Breaches of the Code may include:

  • unjustified depictions of sex or nudity, or offensive language, before the 9pm watershed
  • representation after the watershed that “contains images and/or language of a strong sexual nature which is broadcast for the primary purpose of sexual arousal or stimulation”
  • material which may cause offence and is not justified in context.

You can read the current Code here.

You can fill in an online complaint here.

The ASA covers videos shown as adverts, e.g. adverts for the artist’s single or album. They take action against the advertiser if it breaches their Broadcast Advertising Code.

Breaches of the Code may include:

  • Images which condone or encourage harmful discriminatory behaviour or treatment, or prejudice respect for human dignity.
  • Adverts which cause widespread or serious offence
  • Adverts which show 18-rated material

You can read the current Code here.

You can fill in an online complaint here.

OFCOM and the ASA can both impose fines and prevent videos being shown again- but remember that they don’t cover illegal downloads, videos you watch online or videos you buy directly (e.g. from a provider like iTunes).

3.       Your MP

If you don’t get a good enough answer from any of the above, consider letting your MP know (even if you don’t vote because you’re under 18). Contact them here