April 22, 2007
Positive Women in Hip Hop: Feminism in a Patriarchal Society I. Summary
Despite the negative images that we are over exposed to, can society identify positive women in hip hop? As hip hop promises to become main stream, it is gradually morphing into a component that will eventually be accepted as popular culture. However, the degradation of women continues to be a staple of the hip hop culture. In rap music women are commonly referred to as “bitches,” “hoes,” and “gold diggers”. In the videos that serve as visual aids to these songs, women are usually portrayed in a negative light. Usually these women are dressed in short, tight, skimpy clothing, and perform in “sexually” charged manner. The behavior of these women often reflect the artist’s lyrics but too often their behavior serves no other purpose, but to please a male dominated culture. A culture that is rich in misogyny and sexism. A culture that typically views women as sexual objects or in this case props. These negative representations encourage a society that is geared toward the destruction of women rather than the uplifting of women. It is critical for women in hip hop to counter these practices, deeply rooted in history. A feminist movement in hip hop is already underway including: Actors, authors, artist, dancers, designers, models, producers, rappers, scholars, singer’s and many more who are challenging tradition. My research will provide insight from a contemporary perspective. It will include examples of women in hip hop that wear short, tight, skimpy clothing, and who also behave sexually. Contrary to the “beliefs” these women have proved to be positive through their contributions to the hip hop culture. This information will illustrate that the feminist movement in hip hop will potentially revolutionize hip hop through acceptance of patriarchy as the dominant culture; and by accepting this truth women in hip hop can begin to redefine what “positive” is. Although these women may conform to the “norms” of society by being the typical sexual objects, they have used their sex as a means to “move up” in an industry dominated by men. My research will provide flexible information to media studies scholars that will influence them to do more research towards positive women in hip hop. It will also discuss whether or not society is ready to make a change. II. Literature Review
Hip hop, a cultural movement that developed in urban communities during the 1970’s, has become main stream in the 2007 American popular culture. “In 2001, over 89 million hip hop CDs were sold. Suburban white youth are now purchasing approximately 60 percent of rap CDS” (Cole, Sheftall 184). Thus, hip hop’s influence in America is significant. Too often people associate hip hop with: rap stars, expensive cars, and over sexed women. Women and Sexism
Women in hip hop have often been the target of sexism (Neal 247). Strong, positive women are almost never represented in the hop culture. Instead we are bombarded with images of half naked women gyrating on the latest rap music videos. Women are merely sexual objects. Women of the hip hop culture are usually submissive to men and existing only to satisfy men’s needs. In rap music women have always played an essential role. Although rap is usually viewed as an urban male culture it wouldn’t be what it is without the influence of women. Women in hip hop are usually assigned specific roles: “the chicken-head groupie, over sexualized rhyme- spitter, baggy clothed desexualized mic-fiend…” (247). rarely do we see strong, positive images of women in hip hop, but they do exist. Due to the patriarchal privilege in our society it’s difficult for the positive women to be recognized. Some women are up to the challenge of trying to redefine stereo-types. Usually these women want to be seen as peers or equal to the males in this culture. With the lyrical skill in rap...