Tag Archives: sexism

Michael Eric Dyson rocks!

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I just had to throw a quote from him up here on Racialicious. This is his take on the blame hip hop direction that the Don Imus media circus has taken, from Salon’s Audiofile blog:

So the big point really isn’t to score rap for its vicious sexism — if that were the case the mainstream white media would have been on the bandwagon a long time ago. It is to partially exonerate a racist and bigoted representative of its own ranks, in part to exonerate all those other white journalists who either appeared on his show or stood by in silence while he had his way with whatever vulnerable group he chose to attack that day. The white media has to scapegoat rap now to cleanse its hands of the blood — and to wipe clean its conscience — of the suffering of citizens, like black women, it never cared enough to oppose before Imus put his foot in his mouth. Black women are a footnote — and an afterthought — to the controversy.

Thus, all the hand-wringing and feigned horror over how young black males could ever speak about their women in such hateful tones is the delayed reaction of the partially guilty — not through active discourses of assault as with Imus, but through the passive indifference to the plight of women they didn’t care enough about either to learn their condition or to cry out over it on their airwaves. As we’ve seen in the last week, when white media elites are so inclined, they can use the airwaves to tell stories of black life with far more time and resources in one week than they’re used to spending in a year. If black women matter, they can’t just matter when white men mess up.

It is typical of a media that ignores black life that it also ignores the outrage black folk have felt about rappers spitting invective toward its women since the early ’90s. And it’s equally apparent that the white media has no interest in the fierce debate raging within hip-hop about its future and soul. Hundreds of “conscious” rappers who extol the virtues of black female identity — and who indict the materialism and misogyny of rap — can’t get a word in edgewise on white or black media outlets, from radio to television. There’s a blackout of conscience-driven, racially astute, politically motivated rap that contains progressive gender messages, in large part because such rap also contains poignant and prophetic indictments of white supremacy and social injustice, themes that even ostensibly liberal white media is not ready to hear, air or acknowledge. So it closes the mouths of such progressive artists, with the consequence that the women-hating harangues of hip-hop artists drown out the considerable complexity of conscious artists. It does so with the complicity of the very media machine that now wants to point fingers at only half the equation — the rap artists who pour acid on the heads of black women — while failing to self-critically indict its very participation in this unseemly affair. That is utter and naked hypocrisy.

Oprah’s town hall meetings on misogyny in hip hop

by guest contributor Nina

Over two days this week, Oprah dedicated her show to a Town Hall Meeting to address misogyny in hip-hop. All this as a result of Don Imus’ “nappy headed ho” comment, and his trite excuse that black women are called these names by their own men. I was interested to see how Oprah would handle this matter since she has long come under fire for not having hip-hop artists on her show and she has said that she does not appreciate the degradation of women in hip-hop music.

The first show aired on Monday and was entitled “Now What?” It consisted of panel of black men and women, including a former CBS executive, two journalists, two author/magazine editors, activist Al Sharpton and the artist, India Arie. The second show on Tuesday entitled “The Hip-Hop Community Responds” was made up of a much smaller panel, Russell Simmons and Dr. Ben Chavis of the Hip-Hop Action Network, record executive Kevin Liles, and the rapper Common. There were no women on this second panel and there certainly were no female artists whose careers are built on their overt sexuality (L’il Kim, Foxy Brown, Khia etc.). Nor were there any of the female video performers who so willingly prance around in thongs and bikini tops pouring Cristal down their bodies while shaking their “bump, bump, bumps.” Female students from Spelman College attended both shows by satellite from their campus.

[Note from Carmen: Oprah has actually had Karinne "Superhead" Steffans on the show before to talk about the objectification of women, believe it or not.]

All the panelists (except the Spelman students) seemed to talk in circles around the issues and used far too many metaphors (Dr. Robin Smith’s “you feed someone garbage, eventually it starts to taste good”) to address the issue of female degradation in the hip-hop world. The world of which they spoke was of course mainstream hip-hop-rap videos you see on MTV/BET (both owned by Viacom) or songs you hear on commercial radio stations (many owned by ClearChannel). But there were some strong comments. Diane Weathers, former editor of Essence magazine called for Snoop Dogg to lose his contract due not only to his lyrics and videos but his side hustle as a pornographer.

Stanley Crouch called the hip-hop music world a minstrel show and said he would not allow these “clowns” to relinquish their responsibility due to the poverty and crime that they came up in. Panelists on the second show continued with the metaphors. Common stated that hip-hop, at only 30 years old, was just a child that needed tending to by its parents. Common has certainly evolved into a conscious artist since his first few albums contained plenty of bitches and hos and one song in particular where he talked about shooting a homosexual. Russell Simmons insisted that he mentored many artists during his reign at DefJam and while he would not censor what a poet wanted to say since it was a reflection of their own experiences, he was constantly guiding artists to learn more and be more and perhaps present themselves in a different way. The Spelman girls got very frustrated, particularly with the second show’s panel. One woman stated that rap music informs the way the world feels about black women and that there was a lack of accountability from the panelists. The women demanded that the problem be acknowledged and that steps be taken towards a solution. They even offered to work with the panelists towards that solution. Continue reading

Examining manhood, sexism, and homophobia in hip-hop culture

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I missed this when it was on PBS, so it’s great to catch at least a bit of it on YouTube. Here’s the description:

“Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes” provides a riveting examination of manhood, sexism, and homophobia in hip-hop culture. Director Byron Hurt, former star college quarterback, longtime hip-hop fan, and gender violence prevention educator, conceived the documentary as a “loving critique” of a number of disturbing trends in the world of rap music. He pays tribute to hip-hop while challenging the rap music industry to take responsibility for glamorizing destructive, deeply conservative stereotypes of manhood. The documentary features revealing interviews about masculinity and sexism with rappers such as Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D, Jadakiss, and Busta Rhymes, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, and cultural commentators such as Michael Eric Dyson and Beverly Guy-Shetfall. Critically acclaimed for its fearless engagement with issues of race, gender violence, and the corporate exploitation of youth culture.

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