Pardon the pun, but when it comes to degrading and sexist representations of women in music, does hip hop deserve its bad rap? Almost exclusively blamed for the negative images of women in music videos, hip hop is often perceived as unforgivingly misogynistic.
In hip hop and rap, many of the lyrics and images portray women of all ethnicities as sexual objects and depict the exploitation of and violence against women. The image of dozens of semi-naked women dancing provocatively around one blinged-out rapper has become standard in music videos. Similarly, pimps have morphed from abusive, controlling and criminal men to trendy, stylish icons. Hip hop has become a mess of unrealistic and arguably dangerous images of female sexuality. Ludacris’ song and video “Pimping All Over the World” is a good example of misogyny (hatred towards women) in hip hop. The lyrics list women off like possessions: “The fancy cars, the women and the caviar.” Further, the singer dismisses the woman’s protests that he uses her for sex by saying that he takes her places. Ludacris raps, “[…]don’t always think I’m tryna get in your pants, cause see me my Pimpin’s in 3-D, I’m takin you places you only see on T.V.” It’s clear that sex is just something else to buy and that the woman is just as easily discarded. The lyrics explain the harsh reality: “[…] it’s plenty women to see, so if yo ass don’t show up it’s more women for me.” Some defend the sexism in hip hop as being part of the hip hop artist’s life. If hip hop artists are representing their cultural reality, I wonder why there are so many videos featuring several scantily-clad women dancing provocatively around a male artist. I find it hard to believe that any hip hop artist grew up or lives in that reality. So, how did this image become the accepted standard of hip hop music’s video format? DeVone Holt, author of Hip Hop Slop: the Impact of a Dysfunctional Culture, speaks of the declining quality of hip hop artistry: “ They’ve...
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