Women Can’t Criticize Rap?
It’s perfectly fine to insult women.
And women shouldn’t complain — because they might offend someone.
Not all rap is sexist. But when I talk about sexism in gangsta’ rap some of my students start squirming.
They defend the lyrics.
They suggest I’m insulting an ethnic subculture.
Actually, they don’t do that much anymore because I’ve started asking these questions before I begin this lecture:
- Why are we more sensitive to ethnic than gender concerns? So much so that it’s okay to call women bitches and hoes, but women had better not complain about it?
- Which is worse: insulting someone? Or saying that you don’t like being insulted?
Why is sexism more invisible?
The student reaction reminds me of a man who once told me that I can’t complain about sexism in fraternities because some frat brothers are Black. So my complaints about sexism would be racist.
Sometimes sexism seems to be more acceptable than criticizing it.
Why are we more sensitive to ethnicity than gender? Probably because ethnic minorities have a memory of a world without racism.
- When slaves first came to America they had a memory of a time without slavery.
- When any ethnicity comes here from another country — maybe they’re Japanese — they have a memory of a place without bias against them.
- American Indians have a collective memory of the time before whites.
But women have no memory of a world without sexism. They are often surprised by evidence that the world hasn’t always been male dominant.
Women are so used to sexism that it feels natural, normal, invisible…
Why are women less united in speaking out on gender issues?
There’s a tumbler showcasing women holding signs saying, “I’m not a feminist because…” (I like men… feminists want special treatment…)
Can you imagine a tumbler featuring people of color holding signs saying, “I’m not against racism because…” (I like whites… ethnic minorities want special treatment…)
Women are also less inclined to speak out on gender issues than people of color are to speak out on ethnic concerns.
Maybe that’s because most women expect to have male lovers and partners, half of their parents are male — as are half of their children and siblings. With these close relationships women fear that complaining about sexism might offend men.
Plus, we routinely eroticize violence and domination of women. We don’t do the same with ethnic minorities. (Imagine: whites, male and female, routinely dominate people of color — and it’s so sexy.) When you grow up seeing that stuff in mainstream culture, sexism can start to seem sexy, appealing. Not something to stop.
Which is worse: insulting? Or complaining about being insulted?
My measuring stick for “wrongness” is this: where is more harm done?
Which is worse, insulting someone? Or saying that you don’t like being insulted?
But it’s not about me. (It probably is.)
Some women will say:
But it’s not about me…
… it’s about them.
And they act like hoes, so they deserve it!
So, if someone else — not you — is the target of insult that’s okay?
And they deserve it?
And why are men celebrated for having sex with lots of women, but women are dirty hoes if you turn it around?
And even if you think it’s not about you, it probably is. Because insults are almost always used to put someone else down in order to raise yourself up. If you routinely call women hoes and bitches, you can feel like you are better than half of humanity — a little more than half, actually.
Meanwhile, the world around us subconsciously gets into our heads. No wonder women are routinely called bitches and hoes on high school and college campuses these days.
Yet women don’t complain about it much. They hear these words so often that it starts to feel natural and normal. They grow used to being demeaned.
And then they don’t just put up with it, they defend it.
Posted on May 31, 2017, in race/ethnicity, sexism and tagged hip hop, insulting women, Rap music, sexism. Bookmark the permalink. 66 Comments.
This blog post was thought provoking. It is asked why we are more sensitive to ethnicity than gender and the answer is clear as day, however, not one I had ever considered. It is true that in this genre of music we hear women being referred to by names over and over that in some ways you become desensitized to it. When women say other women deserve to be called these names it reminds me of another blog post where women place the blame as possibly a defense mechanism. If it happens to someone else it’s because you failed to follow all of these rules that you grow up having to abide by. In reality all of these rules we have to follow to not call negative attention to ourselves by males are completely twisted. This was a great blog post and a great topic for conversation.
Thank you. I’m glad it was thought-provoking.
Firstly, I think it is important to recognize not all rap music is degrading and insulting to women, but it is a common pattern to see in the genre. This music is really popular with the youth especially in American culture, and it is important that the lyrics of this music are a good influence and doesn’t teach them that this behavior and attitude towards women is normal. People of color are oppressed, but that does not give anyone despite their race an exception to oppress others, in this case women. Women are constantly sexualized, slut-shamed, or referred to as crazy or gold diggers in music, and this stereotype gets strengthened in real life. And the worst part is there are women who enjoy this music or just let this trend happen without saying anything about it. Rap can continue to be rap without being insulting to women or to anybody; there are plenty of examples of it. There are no exceptions to sexism no matter race, no matter if you’re oppressed.
Not every rapper/artist out there degrades women, while sexism and the belittling of women is what sells, there are still rappers who would rather not speak of that in their music. I am a black female, and I know for a fact that mainstream music that is being produced and endorsed and out by white males from black rappers degrading women and talking about things of that nature has the tendency to sell more, why, because people, for some reason, enjoy hearing and adapting to music like that when in reality it doesn’t relate to their lives at all.
I think that women do have the right to criticize rap because we are the ones being insulted and humiliated, our daughters, sisters and mothers also have to endure this damaging music(not all music) and it’s not okay at all. Saying that you don’t like to be insulted shouldn’t bring problems, if that’s how you feel, then you should have every right to but also insulting someone, for the right reasons can be okay and then sometimes it won’t be but if you are defending yourself, then why not. While I agree that women should be able to criticize rap music because we also like to listen to rap, I don’t think you should have the right to criticize it if you are one of those women who are quick to twerk when it comes on, blatantly showing that you could careless about being belittled and those women who call their friends and themselves bitches and hoes, if you are disparaging yourself then why isn’t it okay if others/rappers do it?
Certainly you have the right to criticise it. But what makes you think there is a point to doing so? Since time immemorial it’s been a badge of honour for society to be offended by your material. It’s good marketing, and it makes it cool that mum and dad hate it.
There is rebelliousness… And then there is conforming to society. And this sort of music conforms to the underlying misogyny in our culture. Not so rebellious after all.
Understanding that sexism should be rooted out where ever it resides, I am weary about this critique of rap music. As mentioned, women do not know a world without oppression. Rap is less than 40 years old and popular music was objectifying and promoting violence against women long before. Genres where the performers and fans are predominately white, like country, do not receive the backlash rap does partly because it presents misogyny in a socially acceptable package. It’s the good ‘ol boys talking about their southern belles, not a drug dealer talking about his ho.
Addressing misogyny in rap and promoting a more fulfilling image of women for the youth is long due, but this should be lead by those within the culture. Black men and black women who have a better understanding of how rap has evolved, where these problematic mindsets are rooted, and how best to reach the conscience of rap fans are the voices that need to be amplified. Critiques of the culture from a white person, whether or not they have more than a passing understanding of hip hop and the black American experience (specifically in this case black women’s experience) rightfully fall on deaf ears.
When you criticize the harm I do it hurts my feelings? That’s basically what you’re saying. How does that make sense? Which is worse? Insulting someone or complaining about being insulted?
A woman can’t complain about being insulted because she isn’t part of the culture that insults her? We just have to put up with it? That’s incredibly disempowering to women.
If rappers don’t want to be criticized don’t insult in the first place.
You prioritize race over gender when there is no reason to do that. Instead, you should prioritize according to where the greater harm is caused. It is more harming to insult someone than it is to say that you don’t like being insulted — and saying that you don’t like being insulted isn’t actually harming. It’s standing up for yourself.
I mean what do you do? If someone harmed do you only stand up for yourself if they are from your own culture?
I see the points in this blog. Women have become so desensitized by the word bitch and hoe that they don’t even respond to it anymore. It is sad that we are at this point. I don’t like a lot of rap music because of the degrading way that women are portrayed. But God forbid if the rapper’s girlfriend, wife, mother, or sister were talked about in this way. It shouldn’t be ok to talk this way about women and then expect your own to be treated with the respect that women deserve. All women deserve this respect and music should uplift people and not tear them down. This is sexism by putting women into a category. Freedom of speech has gotten out of hand and people are supposed to just take it. Women need to stand up and let the world know that we don’t like the name calling and categories. How would men like it if we started doing the same thing to them in music and life? They’re not perfect either.
It can be difficult to get outside of your own experience sometimes. They say that men who have daughters become more feminist compared to those who do not. And after Jay-Z had a daughter he said he wasn’t going to use those word anymore. Suddenly he saw the world in a new way. And at least he could see beyond his daughter, too.
“Freedom of speech has gotten out of hand and people are supposed to just take it.”
Uh, yeah you should take it. Because the alternative – having the Stasi break down your door at 3am for wrong-think is far far worse.
Rap is a form of art no doubt as is all music. I actually like rap music but in almost every song those degrading words are used. At times, they use it to actually to purposely put women down. In some songs, you will hear something about how their ex-girlfriend is always on their back about child support and now they have moved on with another guy. Therefore, that makes them a “hoe.” In other songs, they use it to show that women are theirs. For example, in the song “That’s My Bitch” by Jay Z and Kanye West they say “Get your own dog ya heard, that’s my bitch.” Women are always referred to being the guys property. Women are used to this and even female artist are collaborating with rappers while they call them these degrading words. Women need to come together. It isn’t racial discrimination against African Americans if women were to stand up and demand not to be talked about this way. After all it isn’t just rappers that talk about us this way. It is men in general that were raised hearing their parents and society speak like this. Surprisingly us women are guilty of doing this to each other. Women are always calling one another degrading words that we hear men call us. Bottom line is as the movie, Mean Girls, states we shouldn’t call each other names, because then it just makes it okay for guys to it. If you hear anybody calling you names call them out on it and demand respect.
Yeah, we need to stop doing this to each other. A lot of different groups who have been put down take back words that have been used against them as a way of trying to take the negative power out of them: It’s my word now and I’m using it. But it can backfire, Making it seem more okay.
This post was very interesting to me as I have often also wondered why there aren’t more women who are vocal about the extreme sexism in rap. Some of the points you have brought up were definitely eye-opening however. The issue of race does seem to take a front seat in this issue, especially when your students “suggest [you’re] insulting an ethnic subculture” rather than just an aspect of sexism that is promoted in the song. It is really interesting to think about how ethnic minorities could remember a time without this extreme prejudice, while women cannot. I do agree that this probably plays a major role in why there are such large discrepancies to how people talk about racism versus sexism. If this is indeed the case, then what is the first step to bridging that gap and making sexism easier to talk about?
It also seems to me that popular rap songs are getting more and more sexist. There is plenty of wonderful rap and hip hop being made, but the majority of the popular music is just getting more vulgar and degrading towards women. These sexist rap songs are representative of how we act as a society, considering how popular and prevalent they are in our world.Anywhere you go in the public sphere it is very likely that you will come across sexism not only in rap music, but pretty much everywhere you look. Why though, do many women support and listen to some of this music without batting an eye? I would guess that part of the answer to this question has to do with the point you brought up earlier that women have never experienced life without sexism so it is easy to be complacent rather than be vocal and fight back. I’m not sure what will help sway that complacency in the other direction, but hopefully changes will start to be made.
The sexist stuff sells so it is encouraged by record labels. We certainly wouldn’t allow that if it were racism that sold so well.
I hope that we will stop being such a racist and sexist society! It’s like two steps forward and one step back though. We go forward and then there’s backlash.
I’ve never thought about women missing the memory of a world without sexism and that being why we so easily accept it. It’s been like this for so long, we don’t even know a world without sexism. Thank you for sharing this idea.
That being said, I don’t listen to rap but grew up with my older sister listening to Tupac, N.W.A., etc. Tupac was very confusing because he’d have a song encouraging and respecting women and then a song that said, “Every other city I go, I see the same hoe.” I don’t think it’s about speaking up about ethnicity over sexism, but perhaps it’s because you are not a person of color and that makes it awkward to hear you critique rap. Rap is a predominantly black, successful music genre and honestly one of the few ways promoting an african-american man into great success. When I think of rap, I think of gold and diamonds, luxurious cars and financial success. Perhaps I’d look at why, in America, are we choosing this to be the image of a successful black man.
Also, in regard to your question, “Which is worse: insulting? Or complaining about being insulted?” I find that I speak up less when confronted with an offensive comment because I’ve been shut down so many times. When I have spoken up about something being offensive to me, both men and women feel insulted because I’m offended or have brought attention to their offensive comment. So, it seems I find complaining about being insulted worse. The idea of a feminist or woman defending herself against an offensive comment is still not thought of positively, in our culture. Shows like Family Guy make jokes comparing a dead wife to a broken dishwasher and it’s one of the highest viewed shows on a major network. This, to me shows that the majority of Americans don’t respect women. It is draining to have constant battles and conversations with people who don’t want to hear my opinions and are set in their ways of thinking. I think back on that recent meme of the triggered feminist, which basically sums up American’s idea of a feminist. They think of women fighting for equal rights and respect as overreacting, over sensitive, man-hating, and ridiculous.
Honestly, I was not shocked that we elected a sexist, sexual-assaulting president, who is disgusted with a woman’s menstruation and bathroom use. I see him as a reflection of ourselves. My proof is in our sexist media, social media memes and comments and our overall humor.
I agree with everything you said (if I’m understanding correctly), except this:
Let’s turn this quote around, substituting gender for race:
“Perhaps it’s because you are not a white woman and that makes it awkward to hear you critique racist rap.”
Are you comfortable with saying this?
If you aren’t comfortable saying this it’s because as a culture we are much more comfortable with sexism and with racism for the reasons I stated.
Which fits with all the other points you made.
That isn’t to say that we are a more sexist than racist society — it’s not clear to me that we are more one or the other.
I think that the genre of rap is a great way for artist to express themselves. The structure of rap itself is just as much poetry as it is music and although all genres to can be compared to poetry, rap music is arguably the most centered around the content and lyrics. Many independent websites have analyzed music for their lyrics and concluded that rap has the largest average vocabulary size.
I think that the main problem is most popular music and music heard on popular radio stations is only rap or hip hop that is degrading to women. Although I think that alot of blame can be put on the specific artist, I think alot of it also has to do with the fact that many people are buying into this kind of music. Music in today age seems to have become so much of a product rather than an expression of the individual artist. Many young pop stars have companies that write their songs for them and alot of music and lyrics are handcrafted to appeal to a target demographic and make the most money. On top of that many artist have ghostwriters who write music for them for money behind the scenes.
Pitbulls “time of ourlives” has lyrics saying “I knew my rent was gon’ be later ’bout a week ago
I work my ass off
But I still can’t pay it though
But I got just enough
To get off in this club
Have me a good time, before my time is up”
then you have Sia in “cheap thrills” saying “baby i dont have dollar bills to have fun tonight”
These songs definitely seem to be targeted towards a specific target audience. It doesn’t seem like pitbull is trying to send the message that he was once struggling and what helped was spending his money on clubbing. It more seems like he understands his target audience and what will be most relatable.
With that being said i think that its important to see why alot of times the artist is just the image and the lyrics might not truly be from them. I think this is why you see some female artist also having lyrics that objectify women as well and alot of it could be unintentional
For example you have nicki minaj in “Anaconda” and other young artist like Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande taking on a more sexualized image.
This could be because this is what gets the most attention in media currently and attention and pulling listeners and viewers is what makes money as a celebrity
Yes there is a lot of important rap music out there. When it comes to the more negative things I just wish that people would be more respectful of one another and less prone to putting other people down so that they can make money or so that they can feel better about themselves.
It’s so sad how women don’t see how they are insulted or demeaned through mainstream media. I am all for free speech and people being straight forward and honest, but when it starts to put others down to make them inferior then it’s not ok. Women are so used to being demeaned that they will defend it, and to me that is not ok either. Why do you want to continue being called rude names and continue to be made to feel inferior? When will you have enough of it? Even if it’s not happening to you personally, women should speak up for other women to try to stop this demeaning of women. People need to realize the root problem of these types of issues: patriarchy. It is not because people act a certain way or dress certain ways, it is because with patriarchy comes demeaning women and men thinking they are superior to women. We need to stand up to this to stop it from continuing to future generations and not defend it and continue to let it happen. Women should be sticking up for each other, not siding with men and putting them down.
It’s a vicious cycle. Women and girls hear themselves demeaned, or at least made secondary, pretty much from the time they’re born: man includes them, men come before women: Men and women, Boys and Girls, brothers and sisters… You throw like a girl… You’re a girl (meant to demean boys)… And in media boys and men are more likely to be the main character with girls in the background… Now add words like bitch, slut, hoe that girls grow up. At their schools or in their music.
They get so used to it that it starts to seem normal. And they even defend it.
While many factors likely are involved with the continuance of this culture, I think that testosterone and nurturing are the major factors. It seems to me that negative social attitudes involve the impulse to domination and the influence of negative nurturing. Positive social attitudes are more difficult to teach and nurture because they deal with reason, not testosterone.
The testosterone effect speaks for itself in terms of male aggressiveness and domineering. These are genetic impulses that can be overridden by positive nurturing, such as teaching, from a very early age, respect and positive social values (e.g., the Golden Rule).
Without the positive nurturing–and in far too many households, the caring parent(s) is too busy trying to make a living–all that is left is passive, or negative learning from television and peer pressure, which plays more to the testosterone side.
This, in my opinion, is where social and economic justice can make a huge impact over time. Clinton was not quite right with her “village” comment. It takes a nation to make a real difference.
But so far, as we continue to slide (faster now) into oligarchy, I expect there will be even less empathy for the underprivileged and this problem will continue or grow worse as working class income continues its virtual flatlining and the fruits of its labor are bled off, to be consumed by Wall Street, et al.
As for rap, especially gangsta’ rap, I can’t stomach it and I don’t care if my distaste is seen as racist (would their dislike of Mozart, Bach or Beethoven, et al, be termed racism?). I’ve tried to appreciate rap in general, and have actually heard at least twice rap that actually had a tune, but “slap bang, slap bang, slap bang, yack yack, slap bang, simply drives me up a wall.
Men have way more testosterone than women. Roughly:
Men: 5,000 –6,500
Women: 200 – 400
Yet I know plenty of men who are much more gentle than the women they are married to.
Testosterone isn’t as determinative as many people think.
I will confess that i’m one those girls who wouldn’t see anything wrong with the way rap degrades and offends women by objectifying them as well as calling them bitches, and hoes. Although there are certain songs that would actually offend me, i never failed to excuse them by saying something like “well, its just a song” or “it doesn’t apply to me”. It shouldn’t matter wether its a song or who the rappers may refer it to, every women deserve the same respect, thats why its never okay to degrade women the way rap does. When you assimilated this conflict to that of racism it made me reflect and realize that i shouldn’t excuse being offended by rap lyrics that oppresses women and speak against it just as much as do with racism because at the end of the day it’s within the same level of discrimination.
Thanks for being open to growth.
Although I do agree on the presence of sexism within the hiphop/rap industry, I think there is a good amount of material that needs to be clarified to the public and here in this discussion as well. Music itself and most things in our world that we enjoy are subjective. In particular, one’s preference music is subjective to their environment, values, and most importantly what they find emotionally or figuratively provocative in these curated sounds. After reading some of the comments on here, it seems that many recognize hiphop/rap to have a strong projecture of sexist comments; of which I totally understand and recognize. However, there is some objective value to what makes hiphop/rap a genre that millions around the globe listen to. It describes and dissects the internal and external dialogue of each artist’s world. And unfortunately our world is trashed with sexism, racism, and classism. The words that these artists speak upon and express themselves with are only representative of the environment they are in or have been brought up in. I am not saying the hiphop/rap community is perfect in its artists’ values however I am quite certain that most individuals who are involved in the industry are aware of their messages and the audiences they reach. Thus, it is up to our community to be educated and educate others of sexism and all other types of social oppression rather than poise the blame on simply a genre of music.
We should certainly educate ourselves. And I educate on both classism and racism that affect the lyrics in this music — and their appeal.
But women should be able to complain when they are being insulted. They shouldn’t be shut down just because someone is being hurt.
We should stop the hurt on all sides: sexism, racism, classism. And not accepting sexism is part of that, right?
I certainly would not advocate women putting down racial minorities just because sexism is part of a woman’s lived experience. So why do you think it’s okay to go the other way?
Can you imagine the outcry if women were singing songs about people of color and saying the same types of things about ethnic minorities that we hear in gansta rap?
I find it difficult to say that sexism is worse than racism. As someone who benefits from systemic racism, it’d be easy for me to say that sexism is worse because I’ve never experienced racism. Obviously, they’re both horrible, and can be better or worse depending on how many labels you fit under (i.e. it’s harder to be a woman than a man, and it’s a lot harder to be a black woman than a white man). That being said, hip hop may be a voice for the voiceless (black men’s voices in particular), but there are ways to voice your anger without putting down women. It reminds me of how comedians talk about political correctness. A lot of comedians refuse to be politically correct because they feel like it’s not authentic to themselves to “censor” their comedy, and everyone else should stop being offended. Others, though, have said that if you can’t write jokes without being offensive, then you’re probably not a very good comedian. I think the same applies here. If you can’t rap without putting down women, maybe you’re not a very good rapper. Especially nowadays, people can rap about anything, so there’s no reason to demean women.
Just to be clear. I don’t mean to say that we are more sexist than racist, Only to say that we are less sensitive to sexism than racism — because people of color tend to be united in their disgust at racism but women are divided on their disgust of sexism, for the reasons I gave.
For instance, when my students can’t see sexism in an issue I turn it around and say, “Well what if this were an issue of racism?”
Can you imagine the outcry if women were singing songs about people of color and saying the same types of things about ethnic minorities that we hear in gansta rap?
It is so true that a lot of rap songs degrade women but many will back it up because “it’s just a song” or “that’s rap culture” or whatever other excuse but the fact is it’s become popular and normal for this to happen in music today. And this has become normalized so much so that you can become insensitive to it. And the women who are ignorant to this making it okay to talk about fellow women because it’s not directed specifically towards them are so wrong. if it were and overgeneralized statement about their ethnicity, religion, age group, etc. and it wasn’t specifically aimed toward them they would still be offended so why no when it comes to their gender? And I think women are also making it more okay because they call each other “slut”, “hoe, “bitch” and other sexist terms.
I agree with all of your points.
When I was a teen I only used to listen to underground rock and alternative music, nothing that is played on the radio. As I’ve gotten older I don’t put as much effort into finding new music I just turn on the radio and drive from point A to point B. In doing this I have also noticed an influx in insults against women. On the radio they will censor out the profanities such as the F word or the N word but “bitch” has become such a widely used insult and common phrase that it isn’t censored anymore. I don’t feel like that is okay.
I feel like race and gender issues should be of equal importance. If you can’t say X,Y, and Z about race than you shouldn’t say X,Y, and Z about gender either.
When I was growing up nothing in mainstream music used derogatory words toward women. I think the increase is partly a backlash to feminism. You could get some violent stuff in the underground, from what I hear, But you wouldn’t hear it in the mainstream like you do now. No Grammies would go to that sort of thing.
I agree that not all rap is insulting to women but some of it is and it should not be excused. disagree with the notion that it should be accepted because it is part of an ethnic subculture. I believe that all races and ethnicities should respect women. While I do like gangster rap, I must admit that it does have a tendency to desensitize listeners to the derogatory language used to describe women. I also have never heard of the notion that women shouldn’t complain about this. I think they have every right to complain in protest of this subculture that makes this okay. I don’t think I have ever met a woman that thinks it is okay to call other women bitches and hoes. I also disagree with the notion that minorities have a memory of a time without racism. Being an African American, I am not under any notion that there has been a time in our country without racism against black people. From the time we were forced set foot here until this day, we have been considered inferior by many. No matter how many degrees I get, to some people I will always be the n-word. So to me, there is no memory of a world without racism. There is no fairy tale America. At every time, African Americans, have been treated as less than. So to me, the argument should be whether racism or sexism is more acceptable. They are both equally wrong and we need to fight against both!
Agree: racism and sexism are both equally wrong and we need to fight against both!
Nothing in this article suggests otherwise.
re: “minorities have a memory of a time without racism.” Not you personally. A collective memory. Probably everyone knows that there was a time before slavery and colonialism in Africa. But hardly anyone knows that there was also a time before patriarchy.
To clarify: I don’t think we are more sexist than racist. But we are more sensitive to racism than sexism for the reasons I gave. Sometimes my students have a hard time seeing sexism but if I recast the situation in term of race, not gender, they get it. Probably because ethnicities are more unified in their opposition, for the reasons I stated.
Not all rap is insulting to women, but a lot of artists fill their rap lyrics with demeaning words. All you hear is how women are complete hoes and bitches. Women are degraded not only in the lyrics, but in the music videos as well. Women are treated like a sexual object. Its insulting, but not enough of us stand up for ourselves. Like the blog says above, it has become normal now. The fact that women aren’t allowed to say when we are being offended for fear that the male population might get offended, is wrong in my eyes. There is supposed to be dignity within every women. Respect of one’s body. But social media, and many rap songs, portray women poorly. We have come accustomed to being portrayed in that manner. Women, starting from young girls, want to become a part of that “perfect” woman society has portrayed. That woman that every guy wants. That picture is what all girls a striving to become. It doesn’t help, if we have songs like these telling us what is the way every female should be; the hoe, the bitch. Like someone here wrote, it is not the rap genre, it is the artist. Women shouldn’t be afraid to say when they feel insulted or offended. We are human too.
Yes, there’s some important rap out there. But women shouldn’t have to put up with being insulted by the sexist stuff.
Our society has been socially aware of racism for almost 200 years now and it’s taken us a long time to get to this point in time when America elected it’s first beloved black president, Obama. Seeing that become a reality really gave me hope that our society was ready to evolve even further and have our first women president but what we saw happen was shocking to most of the world, we weren’t ? But why?
Change takes time. Slavery existed in North America for 245 years before it was finally abolished from 1620 to 1865. Furthermore, organised feminism did not really snowball until the first Women’s Conference was held in 1848 (169 years ago). The Women’s Movement evolved out of social reform groups such as the Abolition of Slavery, and other movements.
One thing I know for sure is that when it comes to true change in this country it really takes time and patience to really create peaceful change without war.
When it comes to rap music, it’s has weaseled its way deeply into the fabric of our American society starting with our children. When I was growing up, 2-pac was everything. I grew up uttering the catchy lyrics blindly before I was really aware socially of what I was actually saying. Much like kids in the nazis movement were too young to really understand what they were actually doing was socially damaging to a whole race of people and participating in genocide.
Now, as an adult with life experience, I’ve traveled and lived in other countries where they value different music like classical and it was not till I moved back to the states that I realized how rap music is overwhelmingly accepted everywhere and I grew tired of the new artists very quickly. The songs were not even melodically that catchy to me!? It was mind boggling how I used to blast these songs in my friends cars. And even now as an enlightened adult, as soon as I hear a 2-pac song on the radio, I get excited and recite it all word for word despite what I now know, almost like mind control. I really do think it’s because I was exposed to it as a youth and; therefore, I am more tolerant of it.
If you overexpose our children to these lyrics who really knows how this can affect their relationships with women and men in the future; furthermore, how can women really make their points to men without looking like hypocrites when they sing along to sexist rap songs mindlessly? It makes us look weak and the solution would be to boycott it all together but that would be another revolution altogether born out of the feminist movement. In the mean time I just try to be upfront to the men in my life and try to call them out if they say or do questionable things and most of the time they are shocked to see how mindless they are about the issue and apologize.
Thank you for sharing your experience with this.
“Why are we more sensitive to ethnic than gender concerns?”
We are more sensitive because it’s easier to understand.
Racism is simple to understand. A blue one-inch square is equal to a red one-inch square. Generally speaking, women’s life experiences are the same regardless of race or ethnicity. It’s easy to comprehend why race or ethnicity shouldn’t play a role when it comes to person’s value or capability.
Gender issues\sexism are very complicated. A blue one-inch square is equal to a blue one-inch triangle. Men and women don’t have the same life experiences. It’s much harder to comprehend that men and women are not the same but should be treated equally.
We also use the same words with different meaning depending on the context. White and Asian men should be treated equally (identical manner). Paying Asian men more is not treating them in an identical manner to white men. –vs- Women and men should be treated equally (fairly). Giving women extra sick days because they could have menstrual pain could be considered treating women fairly compared to men.
Additionally, using the same words allow people to use false equivalencies to confuse and derail the conversation.
My point is racism has less factors or nuances compared to sexism. Less factors make it easier to understand.
That makes sense, and it certainly adds to the problem.
There is so much more to this argument than ethnic issues. Music dating back from the time of slavery in America was meant as a way to express hard times. As it progressed throughout the years, sexualizing women and showing off how “hard” you are has become the sprinkles on the cupcake of their hardships. To understand rap music and how it got to be as insulting as it is, you also have to look at the history of it all. Rap is a style of music that originated from a mix of spoken-word poetry and call and response songs from the slavery times. It was used to express how tortured and hard life was for that culture. Of course, it seems like these tortured souls started using it also to gab about their relationships and how their old lady is being too rough on them. It became easier to rag on women than to accept how they were being treated at the time. This in no way excuses rappers and other musicians today like Kanye West with “Gold-digger” or Ludacris with “Area Codes”. Should women be insulted by these smear campaigns that express how they are just sexual objects? Yes and no. We have every right to be insulted when we are being called derogatory words like “Bitches and Hoes”, yet instead of simply blaming rap music we should instead pinpoint the artists themselves. Not every rapper raps about sexualizing women—look at Will Smith. Let’s try not to generalize when we feel attacked and instead go for the throat in responding to the men and women who are doing the insulting.
Like I said in the post, “Not all rap is sexist.”
But as I also said, women should be able to criticize the rap that is sexist. So I strongly disagree with the “no” part of this part of your response: “Should women be insulted by these smear campaigns that express how they are just sexual objects? Yes and no.”
But I also appreciate your thoughtfulness on the topic. 😊
Why is anyone listening to sexist rap music? Stop listening and buying the stuff and it will disappear. Than again, half our population has below average intelligence; so maybe it will never go away.
None of this seems to be a “women only issue”, it is an issue for all people.
That’s a point.
Some really great, important rap put there. We should put our time, $ and energy into that.
Because if it has a good beat and is catchy people will listen to it. That’s the truth. I mean I think about how many songs women like, dance to, or listen to, where it’s really objectifying towards women, but because it’s got a good beat, they don’t care about the lyrics. Or they do notice, but block it out because they don’t take music seriously and compartmentalize.
True. Students tell me that all the time. Still, the words get in there subliminally/unconsciously. Men are much more likely to call women bitches and hoes today than they did in the past, And women often put up with it — and even defend it due to internalized sexism. It’s become normalized.
This is one of those rare times I get to feel like an enlightened member of a diverse community. I’m a househusband who supports a very successful wife with his soap sudzy hands. But more importantly, Both Rhianna AND Katy Perry songs are on my running playlist, so I can clearly check the musically diverse and open-minded box 😉
Yay you! 😊
This further demonstrates how we are socialized to think the male is dominant. When you are a little kid and you grow up with all of these images, events, and other things that suggest male dominance, you start to think that is how the world is. Unfortunately, this has been a vicious cycle to where child is exposed to male dominance, then sees the world as a male dominant world, then has their own child and emits these male dominant ideals and characteristics. That is how I see male dominance being a part of the socialization process of coming generations. However this cycle can be stopped, but I think we need focus on people’s subconsciousness. If there was a way to figure out the major factors that affect the subconsciousness that then result in these sexist attitudes we would be able to do so. For now, I think people should just be aware of how they address somebody. We should also use more gender neutral language. This is because the syntax we use today tend to put males in a dominant position and females in a negative position. For example I see that when men have a lot of sex they are called a stud and praised. For example I see that when women have a lot of sex they are called a slut and are slut shamed. So I think avoiding these words will help us turn away from sexist attitudes. It is a small step, but it can lead to bigger steps in the future.
Yes, it is grounded in male dominance. Part of the reason we are more sensitive to ethnicity and gender is because Half of every ethnicity is male.
Intersectionality is very important. Just because a someone is black, doesn’t mean they cant be sexist and just because someone is a woman doesn’t mean they cannot be racist. However I feel the scope of this article is to narrow. In mainstream culture Women have never been respected or treated as an equal to the male counterpart. Women have been seen as objects and man’s property. Rap genre is dominated by men, is when an industry is male dominated misogyny tends to follow, and I am in no way saying that it is okay, however saying that “gangsta rap ” is the problem is over simplifying it. Women, especially women of color are the group that is exploited in mainstream culture and in some rap, I want to stress the importance of changing the culture of of how we view these women. For exampe black women going back to slavery were sexualized, and going into post-antebellum time period when black women were the “house negro” whose job was to raise children , cook, clean for white families. Historically black woman have been looked at as person but rather a thing to work or be sexually exploited. There needs to be shift the way we think about women in order for “gansta rap” to change and other genres like “pop” .
Yep you’re right.
Regarding “I feel the scope of this article is to narrow. In mainstream culture Women have never been respected or treated as an equal to the male counterpart.”
That filling in is what the rest of the blog is about. (You can’t fit in everything in 500 word posts — must cover one topic at a time.)
Does your student survey include a question similar to this one? Obviously, it would only apply to women of color.
If you HAD to choose, would you rather be a white women or a male of your current race\ethnicity?
No, I haven’t asked them that question. I could ask them – and why.
One thing to note is that we tend to be more sensitive to racism then to sexism, for reason so I described in this post. So a lot of people are less aware of sexism than racism and that could affect their answer.
I’ve asked 10 women that question. Ages ranging from 22-52. Seven said white woman. The other three choose to be a man. The three women that said they would choose to be a man were all 25 and under. I wonder if sexism is starting to overtake racism in the minds of milliennials.
Or else they are less racist at the younger ages. Which we know for sure is true.
When I see the videos I think “have some pride man” Like the videos are so lazy, and uncreative and interesting some don’t see that. As one who plays guitar, like if I did a video it would be story telling and their would creative shots taken. And i pointed out rap, because that and similar generes are the ones out of all that is like this and the most uncreative songs and videos. Country can be redundant, but atleast in the videos you can see some story telling.
I think that a lot of rap is really good, and about storytelling and social critique. But what you might call “corporate rap” tends to be pretty misogynistic. I’ll take the rap, minus the misogyny please.
I feel a lot of it is marketing too, because it’s “club music” But I think people defending it should step back and maybe think about it. I get that the violent part or some parts of rap not about sex but violence is like story telling and a voice for rappers talking about living in the hood and the problems and things they go through. It’s their voice and some voice of systemic issues too. But the other songs are all or mainly about sex or tits and ass. A lot of this stuff is big shot music execs pushing this and wanting mostly this stuff and pigeon hole the genre pretty much. Like in some ways it seems like the culture and one’s defending it and rappers, they kind of are undervaluing the music when it’s mainly sex and thinking that’s how it should be, what execs want or it’s only good enough for that. Like to me I wonder if internalized racism with setting the standard low and not realizing it.
.Music is art to me, and I think music videos project that art when done right and story telling. But so many music videos, rap ones that are just about sex and body parts. All it is the whole time is a hot girl dancing. There’s not story telling, no cinematography, no substance at all. The rappers and such are dancing like it’s the coolest video when it’s so generic and lame. And it’s not even because it’s women in it. Like you can even have a sexy woman in a music video, but one’s where it’s like sensual, and like beautiufl and artistic and cool. So using a sexual image maybe, but atleast it’s like in a sensual art way. Instead of rap videos it’s pretty much a woman in short shorts or a thong twerking her ass or shaking her tits right up to the camera.
I wonder about this too. Women never stand up for themselves! Race issues get a lot more attention and make more progress.
Well women are more divided than ethnic groups are and certainly don’t stand up for themselves enough.
Prejudice shouldn’t be an acceptable part of anyone’s culture.
No it shouldn’t!
Propaganda is a standard brainwashing techniques. And, like you say, we end up defending it.
Yeah, in this case misogynist propaganda.