This past Monday Vh1 aired a special called “Out in Hip-Hop” which basically was an open forum on what it means to be gay in today’s Hip-Hop culture. During this special DMC of Run DMC stated, “In Hip-Hop we disrespect the hell out of our women, so what do you think they’ll do to a gay man”? *PAUSE* Now as profound as this entire statement was, I would like to focus on the words…“In Hip-Hop we disrespect the hell out of our women” Those few words are too heavy to just gloss over.
As an avid hip-hop junkie who is also a woman of color, I constantly wrestle with the fact that I have a love for a genre and culture that repeatedly refuses to acknowledge my value in society. Unlike any other genre of music, Hip-hop contains some of the most disrespectful/misogynist lyrics in regard to women. Undoubtedly, sex and degrading lyrics create a shock value in Hip-Hop that is quite easy to sell. Specifically to young and/or uneducated people because it is easier to just focus on the visuals without having to actually think for themselves. The visuals are an issue because the majority of the women depicted in hyper-sexual roles in videos happen to be women of color, which helps drive a correlation of sex and disrespect to women of color.
I have always felt that black women were the least respected, least valued, and least protected women of any other culture. I rarely hear of women being disrespected in other genres; don’t get me wrong I am fully aware that there are other misogynistic cultures, however, other cultures don’t have the global platform to help glorify blatant disrespect towards women. Other cultures also don’t have chart topping videos/songs praising having sex with multiple women, pimping women and being nothing more than a baby daddy to women like Hip-Hop.
I battle with my love for a dope beat with heavy bass regardless of the lyrics because I am keenly aware that some of us just don’t know where to draw the line. I also know that some of us are indeed growing up in broken homes and lack positive direction in our lives. This causes us to be out of touch with reality, causing us to condition our lives around what we hear in songs because some of us are not taught any better. Our generation is not being taught to value women of color (or any woman), marriage, education and a slew of other things that every culture needs to thrive and progress. Knowing this I cannot place the blame entirely on Hop-Hop; Hip-Hop may have aided in setting a tone that may be difficult to reverse at this point but we still have a responsibility to ourselves and the generations to come.
Essentially, it is up to us to make sure we support and acknowledge the artists who do portray positive images just as much as we do artists who only portray negative images. Unfortunately, the positive and thought provoking artists that are not willing to pull women down on their way up in exchange for commercial success are the least glorified but they certainly exist. It is also up to us to help shine a different light on how women of color are portrayed. Women of color are far more than the bitches and hoes as referenced in the lyrics of much of Hip Hop music. They are the women who were willing to sit in at the lunch counters with you, Freedom Ride with you, march in Selma with you, travel to D.C for the Million Man March for you and protest in the streets of Baltimore and Ferguson right beside you. Contrary to popular belief, women of color will have a black man’s back to the grave but sadly it seems like no one has the back of the black woman.
I would love to see Hip Hop culture embrace the fact that we have a beautiful culture with an amazing foundation that is black women. There is no other being on this planet that can begin to empathize on what it means to attempt to navigate in this world as a person of color and yet somehow we have become disconnected.
It will never be popular to admit that we have a broken culture but expressing a truth does not always have to be crowd pleasing.
Miss Lee is a music Journalist based in Memphis, TN, a self-proclaimed media enthusiast she is also the creator of www.theladyandthebeat.com ,a music and pop culture website where she writes about pop culture, urban matters and music especially if it happens in Memphis. She can be found on twitter @LisforLynsi and on Facebook