Misogyny in Hip Hop
3.5.2012Dr. Tshombe WalkerAFR 1503
Misogyny in Hip Hop culture refers to lyrics, videos, or other aspects of hip hop culture that support, glorify, justify or normalize the objectification, exploitation or victimization of women. Misogyny in hip hop music instills and perpetuates negative stereotypes about women. It can range from innuendos to stereotypical characterizations and defamations. Overt misogyny in rap and hip hop music emerged in the late 1980’s, and has since then been a feature of the music of numerous hip hop artists. Hip hop has had a considerable influence on modern popular culture, saturating mass media through music, radio broadcasts and a variety of other mediums. Gangster rap, the most commercially successful subgenre of hip hop, has been particularly criticized and associated with misogyny. Others, however, contest the societal emphasis of misogyny in hip hop music, noting that misogynist and sexist themes are prevalent within other forms of popular discourse. The constant reference of women as “bitches” and “hoes” can be interpreted as offensive or derogatory to women. However, showing women in a negative light appears in many music genres. The fact that it regularly occurs in hip hop is a scapegoat conservatives use to discredit hip hop music. Studies show that other music genres, such as rock music, contain more negative images of women, according to some studies. This is nothing new, just as marketing and advertising companies have used sex to increase market share and earnings, because to be blunt, sex sells. Misogyny has become a sign of authenticity for some rappers, who use misogynistic lyrics and depictions of violence against women to prove that they are authentic gangstas. Many artists view demeaning women as a way to assert their masculinity. Rappers are often considered “fake” if they distance themselves from hyper-masculine self-portrayals and hostile representations of women. Hip hop artists also use such lyrics to gain commercial success. Many lyrics have an inherent distrust of women as a significant theme. Women are depicted as femme fatales, “gold diggers”, and as lying about such things as their age or trying to get pregnant. Tupac Shakur’s “Hell 4 A Hustler” asks, “Why plant seeds in a dirty bitch, waitin’ to trick me? Not the life for me.” In addition, pimps are glorified and their ability to control and exploit women is praised. Authors also link the treatment of women in hip hop to troubled gender relations in inner-city Black and Hispanic communities. In an ethnographic study of inner-city Philadelphia neighborhood, a trend was evident of young men in such neighborhoods try to raise their social status and self-esteem by demeaning and exploiting women. Resulting from this study, it was also learned that, “in many cases the more the young man seems to exploit women, the higher is his regard within the group”. Weitzer and Kubrin (2009) have identified five common misogynistic themes in lyrics are as follows: (a) Derogatory naming and shaming of women,
(b) Sexual objectivation of women,
(c) Legitimation of violence against women,
(d) Distrust of women, and
(e) Celebration of prostitution and pimping.
Men are praised if they abuse and exploit women. These insults seek to degrade women and “keep them in their place”. Sexual objectification is the most common misogynistic theme in rap music, according to the analysis of Weitzer and Kubrin. Women are portrayed as only good for sex. Dr. Dre raps, “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks…Get the fuck out after you’re done…” Violence is depicted as the most appropriate punishment for women who challenge male domination or simply disrespect men. Juvenile, for example, asks, “If she thinks you’re jokin’, is she going’ get a quick chokin’?” Physical violence and rape are considered fitting...
Cited: 1. Anderson, Elijah. Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City. New York: W.W. Norton, 1999, pp. 150-154
3. Collins, Patricia (2004) Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism. Psychology Press. pp. 100.
6. George, Nelson. Hip Hop America. Penguin, 1999, p. 110, ISBN 9780140280227.
9. McLeod, Kembrew (1999). “Authenticity Within Hip-Hop and Other Cultures Threatened With Assimilation.” Journal of Communication 49 (4): 134-50. DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.1999
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