Oh dear. Here comes another post on sexism in hip-hop from yours truly. I’m sure you all are tired of reading about it. Truth be told, I’m tired of writing about it. If I was smart, I would put my head down, ignore the ignorance, and never write anything gender-related again. It’s certainly not winning me any popularity contests with readers. And I can’t come up with one single way that it benefits my career to keep getting into it. I’ll have you all know that I tried to bite my tongue on this one. I really tried.
None of us should be discussing sexism in hip-hop in the wake of the Don Imus controversy anyway. As my girl Laina said the other day, there’s no reason that black people should have to answer for Don Imus’s racism.
But since everybody and their grandmother is now talking sexism in hip-hop all day long, including Ms. Winfrey and company, and dudes are throwing out the silliest, most tired defenses ever, and I keep getting MySpace messages from young female hip-hop heads thanking me profusely for speaking up—I’m going to have throw my two cents in. Again. Sigh.
Let’s be honest. The sexism in hip-hop is indefensible, and it just makes dudes look like clowns defending it. Yes, there’s a lot of respect for mothers in hip-hop. But, no, that doesn’t make it any easier for young women who love hip-hop and/or make their living in the culture. Yes, hip-hop artists deserve freedom of speech. But, no, they’re not simply street poets telling abstract stories. By and large, rappers really do believe a lot of what they say on wax. (I know, because I’ve spent years asking them directly.) Yes, there’s a distinction made between bitches/hos and sistas. But it’s a fine line that separates the two, and women in the culture are essentially considered scandalous until proven otherwise. (You have to work pretty hard to prove your innocence, by the way.)
Yes, North American society is mad sexist. No, that doesn’t mean it’s okay for hip-hop to continue to hate on women. Yes, it’s true there’s a lot of rappers who have more enlightened lyrics and don’t make booty clap videos. No, that doesn’t mean that they won’t try to coerce you into random hotel sex before they learn your name. Yes, of course there’s loads of good men in hip-hop trying to grapple with this. (Respect to Mr. Simmons, Dr. Chavis, Common, and Mr. Liles for going on TV and confronting it.) No, I don’t think it’s enough.
Yes, I say all of this out of a huge love for hip-hop. No, I no longer expect hip-hop to love me back. Sorry. You all can go ahead and hate me now.