Pop goes the role model

Mum's the word: Melanie Chisholm, formerly Mel C of the Spice Girls, on stage as Mrs Johnstone in the West End musical Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre
Mum's the word: Melanie Chisholm, formerly Mel C of the Spice Girls, on stage as Mrs Johnstone in the West End musical Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre
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Sex sells.

And it also sells women down the Swanee.

Under fire: Rihanna.

Under fire: Rihanna.

It always has done, and it always will do - as long as we allow it to.

And condoning it we are, by breezily watching pop videos depicting highly-talented female performers writhing provocatively and dressed like hookers in an Amsterdam shop window.

Record companies (whose offices I assume are occupied mostly by men, or is that me being sexist?) make the money out of what are effectively prime quality pieces of meat with a well-honed larynx.

Unfortunately, I include Rihanna amongst them. Uber-talented, fine-voiced and stunningly beautiful though she is, the criticism this week levelled at her by Melanie Chisholm, the all-grown up former Spice Girl, was right on the money.

The Spice Girls: During the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2000.

The Spice Girls: During the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2000.

Mel blasted Rihanna, of whom she is a big fan, incidentally, for being ‘inappropriately sexual’ and said the singer’s responsibility to younger children should be to protect them.

This was after Rihanna went one step beyond the type of music star stage antics we’ve sadly become accustomed to at a concert in her Barbados homeland last week. She pulled a middle-aged chap onto the stage, straddled him and proceeded to gyrate over his prostrate prostate.

The Spices were no strangers to strutting their stuff in skimpy outfits. Many will accuse Mel of hypocrisy. Or conclude her recent plunge into acting, which saw her in frumpy, mumsy guise in a West End production of Blood Brothers, has rubbed off on her.

But Mel, now 37, says becoming a mother has made her realise how inappropriate overtly sexual behaviour in pop videos and stage tours is.

Childless Rihanna is not the only one bringing porn to pop.

Britney Spears did it before she was a mom - and after.

Christina Aguilera showed just how badly she could misjudge things when the lewd antics of her and her dance troupe got a shocked response from X Factor’s family viewers. And that was supposed to be aiding her big comeback after motherhood.

How do these women feel, I wonder? Like powerful, sexy creatures? Like every man’s wildest fantasy? Or like they are selling themselves short?

I don’t see how acting like a sex symbol can build a woman’s self worth. Surely, if you’re intelligent, hard-working and gifted, you just feel degraded. Like all that you are isn’t good enough unless you also look overtly sexual.

It’s not just Rihanna that Rihanna should be thinking of, though. Which is the point Mel C was trying to make. It’s the kids who look up to her. She is influencing how they perceive women should be. Girls think that’s how they need to be when they grow up. And boys are surely given very unrealistic expectations of how girls should look and behave.