Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ms. Jams Topic of Conversation-Women In Hip Hop

To many, hip hop is more than just a culture. It’s a way of life. But what happens when a culture starts to dictate the way we look at ourselves and the people around us. Cultures are vastly man-made. And I say that because, cultures are simply styles, ideas, and methods that others tend to copy and make mainstream. So in that sense, culture is man-made. Culture can also be changed. But sometimes a culture becomes such a standard that to go against it, makes you stand apart and often times alienates you. So what ends up happening is that the culture is just accepted as the “way it is” and those who don’t believe usually have a hell of a time trying to change people’s minds.
I say this simply as background to my point that hip hop degrades women. And before everyone gets all upset about it lets look at the facts. Women appear in majority of hip hop videos. And in majority of those videos, they are scantily clad, viewed as objects to be bought, dumbed down to look like gold diggers and to appear lazy. The rapper with the nicest car gets to take me home tonight in it. You’ve got a lot of money so you can have me too. I’m only as good as the body part I show off. Etc. Women who appear in hip hop videos that aren’t scantily clad are usually, the exception to the rule and never the norm. In fact, the same rappers that have respectable looking women in their videos are usually the ones who are making positive statements. And usually those same artists are not rapping about the same thing.

Now I’m not going to sit here and say that women are inanimate and we don’t have minds and mouths to speak up but look at it this way. What choice do some have? Some women really are talented besides their bodies and they want to make it into the industry. But just to get on a set I swear you have to be nearly naked. To get any form of attention you have to play like an object and that is really sad. No woman could walk on the set of a rappers video in a power suit and a brief case without all the dudes thinking they were getting “served” or someone hired them a stripper. There is no happy medium in the rap game. You are either all about your business as a woman or you are a video ho. There are no average sized, middle class moms, with glasses chillen on the set of a Nelly video. (Unless his mom is there…)
And I know what some of you are going to say… “why don’t the women just not be in the video?!” the answer to that question is easy… because there is always someone somewhere that needs the dollar and is willing to show whatever they can to get it. As long as those women still exist, there will always be video hoes and the standard will remain. You can’t give rap an ultimatum, rap like many men, doesn’t like change and anything that you need changed needs to be eased in very slowly. But are we even easing at all? Or are we just accepting it as the “way it is”…

I don’t think the main problem is that the women are being degraded, it’s the complacency behind it all; the fact that no one seems to care or even challenge the system except the “positive” rappers. My question is, when did the negativity take over? When did the raunchy rap take over the rap that tells a story and uplifts the nation? When did backing it up take over being a good role model? I know sex sells but damn, didn’t smart people invent our economy? (I guess not, or it wouldn’t be in shambles…….) Isn’t the sexiest thing about a woman her brain? And if you say “no” then you too are part of the problem. That woman shaking her ass in your favorite video could be your mom, sister, niece, girlfriend or aunt. And to say “my ___ is smarter than that or better than that…” does it really matter at this point? No one’s interested in a woman’s brain anyway according to our society.



  1. JAMS,

    Society at large is in shambles and Hip Hop (Rap or whatever we are calling the art form we all love has evolved into today) is a reflection of it. Record sales have plummeted, “leaders” have abandoned it for other endeavors, and newcomers are all jacking for position for a mere 15 minutes of fame. That being said…

    I’m a firm believer in the quote: “Evolution is the prosperity of all things”, therefore; women in Hip Hop must evolve in order to prosper. However, the issue is twofold. Women are evolving and making it into the industry, in the way you labeled, as a video hoe by being subjecting to the nature of the business. Face it, wearing no clothes and booty popping attracts the men who run the game right now.

    On the flip side, I agree, women need to work harder to evolve into the empowered woman most prefer to marry or call their mother, sister, or daughter. A smart woman is a beautiful thing, but society say’s that’s not enough. In the past, women have tried to change the norm, but it’s not the easiest thing to do in a culture that thrives primarily from the interest/engagement of horny adolescents.

    To achieve the goal of women being respected as more than sex symbols, notable female and male members of the Hip Hop community need to do something about it. But they need to realize slavery wasn’t abolished in a day. One song or teen summit will not change the minds of a culture. It will take a lasting, collaborative effort by the community to change the current state of Hip Hop in regard to women.

    Question is, what figures are willing to risk their success to lead the revolution?


  2. Kevin

    I love your point of view on this. You're absolutely right. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a full on movement to change the status quo but how do we even start. I feel like the steps we are taking to change things are going largely unnoticed and its bringing me back to my point, that it's only the underrated artists making the change and they stand out for it. How do we take it from minority to majority?

    In the same sense, I feel like if we ever do make it to a point where women are respected in music videos, we will be simultaneously making steps towards a more conscientious hip hop.

    *Fingers Crossed on that idea*