Women And Hyper-Sexism In Hip Hop
As the mainstream music industry has grown over the years, a substantial majority of the songs being played on the radio are far from appropriate. Not even a simple replace of an inappropriate word with something cheesy and age-appropriate can help. In Tricia Rose’s article “There are Bitches and Hoes,” it is addressed that hip hop and urban street culture has often praised the demeaning of women. Popular old school hip hop artists like Too Short, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, and Snoop Dogg are just a few hip hop artists that seem to embrace the disrespect of women. Snoop’s famous line “Bitches ain’t shit, but hoes and tricks,” and Too Short’s song “Gangstas and Strippers” are so inappropriate, that it may not even be appropriate to write in a scholarly paper. The culture captures the idea that being a pimp to a woman is alright. Their defense is that “they are talking about a reality of life and dare people to deny it” (Rose 322). Artists like Snoop try to justify their songs by saying they are not talking about all women even though that is all the type of women they sing or rap about. What is the most interesting aspect about hip-hop artists deeming this language towards women to be okay is the reactions and actions women take and receive when listening to this music (NSFW).
When a young woman, particularly a fan of the artist, listens to lyrics like “bitches and hoes,” the hip hop artists encourage fans to emulate the behaviors of these so-called “bitches and hoes.” Women participate in not just the behaviors of what the rappers are rapping about, but also participating in the videos. Most women who are a part of a hip hop music video are known as a “video hoe” or video vixen. When some women participate, whether it is in behaviors, starring in a rapper’s video, or even singing along in the car, it is pointing to women’s cooperation with sexism and that maybe they are okay with it. Rose argues that “behaving in hyper-sexual ways is, for some women, the only means to making any gains at all.” Being anti-sexist in a world that exploits it doesn’t come so easily in “a system that rewards us for participating.”
Hyper-sexism works when women are “isolated and pitted against one another.” Why don’t I have what she has? Famed rapper 2Chainz sings about wanting a big booty hoe for his birthday so I suppose if you don’t have a big booty, then you aren’t going to meet 2Chainz’ needs. Another example is A$AP Rocky’s hit with fellow rappers 2Chainz, Drake and Kendrick Lamar who express that they love bad bitches and that’s their f*cking problem. Women avoid the label of being called a big booty hoe or a bad bitch by saying they don’t act in a promiscuous way in which they assume the rappers are rapping about. It is sad that women have to avoid labeling by defending themselves that they are in fact not those types of women, when in fact they should be saying it is hurtful for all women as a whole.
Speaking out against hyper-sexism is marginal within society and the mainstream music industry. Women are perceived as ugly, aggressive, loud, and annoying if they speak out and if they are not sexual, then they are a letdown. But even if women were to speak out against hyper-sexism, rappers will still continue to invent these “bitches and hoes” within their lyrics. Rappers or hip hop artists are perceived as pimps and players a majority of the time, and without women servicing to them, they will not have that status. Hip hop has evolved so much over the years that women are perceived as the ones being dominated and the men are the ones dominating over them. In order to change this perspective, women should “be in charge of their own sexual imagery and give them the freedom to express themselves they see fit.” Not just women, but men as well need to get rid of what prevents us from reaching our full potential and help create a just society away from hyper-sexism and racism.
*This is a response I wrote for my Gender, Race and Class in the Media Communications class to Tricia Rose’s article “There Are Bitches and Hoes” (2008).