Why Can’t Women in Hip-Hop Get Respect? I’m Not Your Vixen

Every Monday afternoon, as part of my weekly intern duties, I sit at my desk and weed through an unfathomable amount of future Web Candy submissions sent to the office at XXLWebCandy@harris-pub.com only to find myself saying, “Hell, no! Hell, nah! and Oh, hell, NO!” On occasion, I come across some chicks that actually look like something you guys and my boss will appreciate, but the one thought always crosses my mind: “Is this the only thing girls think they can aspire to be in this industry?

Now don’t get me wrong, the girls that take modeling seriously can use XXL’s Web Candy as a catalyst to launch their career, but for the ones who just like to run around the house taking pictures of themselves naked assuming they look cute… Puhleeze! This can’t be their end all, be all life dream, right?

Again, that’s no hate, just a thought. Another one that often comes to mind is: “Maybe these girls are on to something and maybe women in hip-hop don’t have any other choice. I mean, women all get turned into eye candy and viewed as sex toys as soon as we step foot into an “industry event,” no matter who we are.

I know most of you are more than familiar with XXL’s Freshmen Class, and most of you attended or at least remember some highlights from the 10 Freshmen for ’10 concert a few months back. Well, I was working backstage at the show, making sure all artists were taken care of and where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be there. After spending at least four hours with the artists I was bound to make new friends, but some wanted to be a little more “friendly” than others. I’m not about to name names ’cause I’m not a snitch (tee hee) but as the night progressed I guess he felt I was just some groupie chick but even though I was bustin’ my ass to make sure everyone was taken care of and comfortable, the “comfort” he was hinting at wasn’t part of my job description.

Hmmm, thanks for the compliment [sarcastic face], but it’s not going down. Under normal circumstances a guy might get a nice right hook and knee to the groin for crossing the line with me, but in that scenario my reaction had to be contraire because I’m a woman in hip-hop. I couldn’t just flip out because then I would be a “bitch” that nobody would like to work with. But accepting someone’s offer for “comfort” is just as bad, because then I’d wind up labeled as the XXL slut. I also couldn’t just run to my boss and cry about it because then I’d just be that young chick that can’t handle herself in this industry.

What’s a girl to do?

The point this story is I’m a young, educated, career woman in hip-hop, but for whatever reason, some (or most) men in this industry want to view me [and every other girl] as tomorrow’s sex toy. I know I’m far from ugly, but have some fucking respect! That’s all that any woman, regardless of profession or body type, wants. So to all the girls that have no experience, or no real passion for modeling as an actual career, nor the talent—just because your mother told you so doesn’t mean you actually have the talent—I want you to want more for yourself.

Please!

‘Cause if prancing around scantly clad—that means dressing in a whorish way—everyday is how you plan to make a living, we might need to have a talk. Better yet, keep those dreams and keep sending those pics in because if you don’t believe me the commenters on XXLMag.com tell it like it is. So if your not up to snuff, trust me, they’ll let you know. —Amber Mckynzie

  • Money Mitch

    A big reason is number one women want to be portrayed that way because they think it will help their career the whole sex sells things or portray themselves like that off the top! Only real women get respect in hip hop! Mc lyte, Queen latifa, and Lauryn Hill have never been “Eye Candy” EVER and are respected by anyone that made a contribution to hip hop! But i feel you when you ask is this all they aspire to be When you ask your eye candy in the interview what their biggest career goal is it’s always being in some rappers music video!! So maybe you should ask the women in hip hop why put themselves out there like whores!! Granted many of them don’t want to do it but may because of pressure from the label or whatever but it’s their duty to have a backbone and not listen to that bullshit if they really want to make it off of talent and not a Nicki Minaj type gimmick! Even rappers like gangsta boo that rap sexually explicit lyrics have a way of making themselves to be the player in their songs so they are the ones in control! So a man would honor a woman turning guys into tricks instead of being treated time after time like a kat stacks or some shit!

  • Tiny Tim

    Question to this is, how can women get that respect without being the artist. You make a great point with the names you mentioned Mitch, but those names, including the contrary (Nicki), were names of hip hop icons. Clarity: I am not saying nicki is an icon nor am I hating. Any who, I think the question is surrounding the corporate side of hip hop. Why can’t women who do not rap or model aspire to be that corporate down chic without starting out in a video? Good article and spark for discussion A-MAC.

  • Worley

    The dirty little secret is some men and women still traffic in gender roles. Some women value men in terms of their socio-economic status. Some men value women in terms of their sexuality. Many are content with that scenario.

    My feeling is: that’s their game so let them play it. The only thing one can do is opt out of the game, but forcing your morality and values on them or vice versa will not work.

  • http://bit.ly/aJocm2 The Desolate One

    Women in hip hop can’t get respect because they’re constantly DEMANDING it. Nobody likes a demanding person. What does a woman do when she’s dating a man that is constantly DEMANDING something from her? http://bit.ly/aJocm2 She DUMPS him. What makes you think that a WOMAN walking around on stage and in interviews DEMANDING respect from men all the time make you think she’s gonna GET IT? WRONG. Men are just going to call her a constantly griping B**CH and keep on movin…..

  • bullets

    You get as much respect as you give. FIRST OF ALL IN ALL TRUTH MOST FEMALE RAPPERS SUCK WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS ROXANNE SHANTE, LIL KIM, FOXY, LAURYN HILL,REMY MARTIN AND DEPENDING ON WHO YOU SPEAK TO OR HOW OLD THEY ARE LOL NICKI MINAJ….NOW WITH THE EXCEPTION OF LAURYN HILL WHO CHOSE NOT TO BE CLICHE SHORT SKIRT BIMBO, ALL THE OTHER GIRLS WERE STEREOTYPICALLY TRYING TO SELL RECORDS WITH THERE BODIES AND OTHER NON MUSIC RELATED THINGS.. SO I FEEL LIKE YOU GET WHAT YOU ASK FOR AS FAR AS THE GIRLS IN HIPHOP ARE CONCERNED ..LH IS PERFECT EXAMPLE…

  • A Mack

    Okay, so here’s a comment for all of you … the situation I was put in … should all women just expect and accept that all the time???

    • http://jamal7mile.blogspot.com Jamal7Mile

      Amber, you handled yourself professionally backstage. The rapper in question did not. Plain and simple. Some people are professional and some aren’t. It goes like that in all professions, and life in general.

      Oh, and don’t be afraid to deliver a knee to the groin if the situation calls for it, LOL!!

      It is what it is, and judging by your picture you can expect to get more than a glance from both professional men and drunken assholes. Just keep being classy and professional. Soon your rep will precede you and you’ll get more of the respect you deserve.

  • http://www.twitter.com/theultimaterage The Ultimate R.A.G.E.

    I think that it’s bigger than hip-hop. I think it’s just a guy thing in general, only that in hip-hop men are more up front about what they want lol.

    Think about it. No disrespect to female emcees, but I’ve only heard a very small handful of female rappers who actually pique my interest to begin with. Most female rappers are just totally WHACK or just okay @ best (cough cough Persia cough cough), and when you’re not easy on the eyes, it really doesn’t help lol. This is a male dominated industry, and if a woman can’t come with lyrics, she better @ least be great eye candy lol. That’s why Nicki Minaj is so popular right now. Love her or hate her, she’s a decent rapper, but, more importantly, she’s a very attractive one too!

    Also, you don’t hear of a lot of female producers in the game. I can’t think of a single one to be honest with you (other than a couple I might know personally who are FAR underground like me). Pretty much, women are either behind the scenes or up close in personal shakin’ somethin’ in a video. I believe that women have a place in hip-hop, but they just gotta SERIOUSLY up their game if they want to be more than just video vixens!

  • cramzy

    it’s possible to get respect, it just once you put yourself in that sex symbol role, you’re pretty much locked in that. Do dudes really care about Trina’s lyrical prowess? Nah, let me see that ass! She did that to herself. Conversely, I got and jam all 3 of Mia X albums. Behind Mystikal and maybe Mac she was the best in that No Limit camp and was respected like that because she made that her claim to fame over what she looked like. Granted she aint look like Trina but it is what it is…I’d still tap Mia tho, I dont give a fuck lol.. But I can aprec8 her as an artist. Eve had that respect when she first dropped too. She could just flat out rap.

  • Kingroy

    I lulz at the low comments.

    But seriously. There are great female rappers out there you have to find. I would think that females wouldn’t go far either because people don’t scope her like that or because she doesn’t think she can make it. You have to “support” that female artist. So when you see one up and coming or hell even the underground trying to go mainstream help her out by becoming a fan if she is really good. And yeah females try to play the sex, a lot of times it doesn’t work when they do or do not like it. And yeah for these girls in the mainstream it work, for the many who haven’t it hasn’t. A girl could look fuck’d up trying to sell sex, but could be a boss ass rapper.

  • Teddy

    they dont get respect because they try to rap like guys like lil kim n the whole instead of sayin gimmie some head gimmie girl head tha fuk? who wants to listen to ho bags brag about how big of ho they are they rarely understand what it is to actually be an mc and barely touch upon inventive flows or anything as far as im concerned the only real decent female mc was lauren hill before some one brain washed her with all that jesus shit

  • Tiny Tim

    To your question A MACk, I think this situation is the same to every other societal situation. Worley said it right by bringing it down to the gender roles that are assigned in the culture that is RAP or current day “Hip Hop”. The question though, at least to me, isn’t whether or not it should be accepted or expected. The question in my mind is: Who is going to be the outcast that is going to change it? Who is going to be willing to be that “Lame”, according to the industry standard and get enough people of cultural prestige to back them in the effort to change the regard and perception of the female in that culture?

    That’s where the trouble comes. In a world of making money off of what is know to be the major selling point (ie. sex, convenience, oil, low interest rates, etc.), you are combated with the distributor mindset of “if it is broken, why fix it?” In fact, in stead of fixing it, let me break it, or do it, in a way that no one else has ever done it before so that it can sell more effectively than the other products out there. That’s right, products.

    The body turns into a perception that develops a product is placed into a message on a video in which you must now live up to unless you decide to be that social deviant and actually display self respect. Man, I hope I am not going to deeper than I should LOL.

    Look real talk though you don’t have to accept or expect it, but unless you are going to be that one to gain enough cultural capital (Clout, street cred, prominent support) behind you to change it, it is something that you must deal with.

    Brings the next question, if it is something you must deal with, how do you navigate that environment successfully? Damn good topic.

  • M. Baby!

    Female MC’s can get respect. Just come with your lyrics, storytelling capablities, and style. The past few female MC’s have resulted in copying each other. They all went the route of sex sells. Just like if a dude can spit and create his own lane he gets respect. The females have to do the same thing. Eve came in the game w/o that sex sells image and she showed her skills. But it’s these executives that are probably making the women sell sex. If they don’t, they won’t get that push and buzz w/o it. When is a female acutally gonna make a song and spit. Tell a story. Uplift these girls out here in the world that need it. Instead they just jump on tracks like everybody else does and goes with the flow. This goes for most of these new rappers as well. Everything sounds the same. Come from left field with a Love Is Blind or something like that. You don’t always have to sell sex.

  • Tmoney

    What is hip hop about nowadays? I mean really…most hip hop bein played is about the cars, the money, the fame, and the women. Rarely will u see a Michelle Obama-like female up in a hip hop video. Im jus sayin. Its like a female walkin into a strip club and wonderin y all the dudes are lookin at her like shes a stripper..it jus comes with the territory. Thas jus the aura around hip hop and the female role within it. U can be a female rapper but guess what…u still gotta have sex appeal…which is y Nicki Minaj wearin whateva she can to show off dat ass..lol Yes, people should be respectful at all times..no matter if ur male or female. U jus have to recognize the state of hip hop right now and whats the females role in it. If u really want that respect…hip hop itself has to change again…to where women are seen as more than jus those girls taking half nekkid pictures trying to start a ‘modeling’ career.

  • Sha

    FLAMETHROWER 5.0!!!

    This is a simple answer. Women aren’t getting respected in hip-hop because….THEY AREN’T RESPECTED AS EQUALS IN THE WORLD!!

    This is not a hip-hop issue. THIS IS BASIC BIOLOGY.

    But sad to say…. IT WILL NEVER CHANGE. Women continuously lie to themselves and genuinely wish that men would look at them for their brains, instead of their bodies. Then they turn around and buy those tight ass-hugging jeans for $19.99.

    We are animals. That is the basic thing that people need to realize. Men have and will always view women as sexual objects because nature deems them as objects of desire. And women will always use the most deadly weapon in their arsenal to get men. Their pussies. Why? Because money rules the world.

    And before I have a “Fake-ass dude” say something and get on and cow-tail to these feminists, and before some chick comes on to respond, let me point something out…

    YES. YOU DESERVE TO MAKE WHAT I MAKE.
    YES. YOU DESERVE TO GET THE SAME TREATMENT AS IT PERTAINS TO SOCIETY..

    BUT….

    YOU ARE DIFFERENT!

    You possess equipment that I don’t. It’s sexy. It’s provocative. It’s attractive. And men will never get enough. NEVER!!!

    We have women of power in the world. But answer this question. Why are those women ugly as fuck? Seems to me, if women’s theories about ignoring their beauty and putting their mind in the forefront were true, we would have some fine-assed scientist and world leaders.

    Bottom line…..

    Women get treated the way they do because it’s science. Tits and asses move men. Money moves women. Yeah, women will eventually hold more “Public” respect in time. But behind the scenes, that same dude that’s giving the respect to the women that want it, is the same dude that wants to stick a hard one in that chick. We’re animals people. Bottom line.

    • M. Baby!

      I fux wit Sha….I feel u, it does goes back to genetics

  • sunshyne84

    Be the bitch, fuck his feelings.

  • Ayre

    Wait a minute! A female picks out XXL’s eye candy? Hmmm…

    • SansBeach

      That’s exactly what I was thinking no wonder the eye candy has been suspect lately.

      What women find attractive in other women is not the same as what men find attractive.

      Finding eye candy is really a man’s job

  • http://thedollarsmakesense.com WULU

    What’s a girl to do?

    ^^^

    you should have kneed him regardless. stick by your principles my sister. rappers deserve no special treatment. you even having to adjust your reaction accordingly to a “well this is how hip-hop works” mindset doesn’t do anyone any good. it only serves to perpetuate certain codes of conduct detrimental to women in rap.

    please dont be discouraged. i believe there is a place for women in hip-hop that doesn’t involve g-strings. all of us, male and female, just need to start doing a better job of calling out the BS when we see it.

  • tai allen

    someone mentioned the baseless and bastardizing gender roles we have in society and music. this is the umbrella problem.

    once men can get out of their own ego and sex-driven issues, and stop committing to “manhood is defined as sexing” ideology we will have real conversations… not come-ons.

    of course there is nothing wrong with trying to meet and sleep with an attractive women. however, how you approach her says a lot. however, you mind-state when she rejects or accepts the invite says much.

    it is hard for a woman in entertainment, business or creative side, and will continue to be until we accept people as more than just objects.

  • Tiiz

    I think it was either Jay Rock, Pill, Gibbs! lol. Everyone else seems a little more respectable.

  • El Tico Loco

    A lot females half the time never wanted to be the artist, much less a rapper. Look at Eve for example she could spit and had respect in game, but she was obviously itching to go hollywood and as soon as she did how did that work out? Even Nicki menage said she wanted to do a 5 and out rapping that messes shit up for females that do want to do something serious in the game instead of using rap as stepping stone.

  • Malik

    Give Jean Grae a cover on your magazine. Women haven’t historically been given respect in the music industry by and large. I mean, how many famous female drummers, bassist, guitarist, etc. do you know of? Unless you’re singing, no one is paying attention to you in music.

    Also, Missy Elliot is the most popular female rapper of all time and (probably) most respected. She’s not my favorite, but she always stood out, and still does, from other female rappers because she didn’t constantly go on about two things; how great she was in the bed and her constantly demanding respect. Her music was also fun too.

    No one is saying you’re not allowed to talk about sex. It’s perfectly fine, however, if that’s the only avenue that you present yourself in and the only avenue that is supported by female rap fans, then why should it be surprising when women are treated a certain way? It doesn’t help that female rappers that DO NOT constantly go this route aren’t mentioned ever (SHOUTS OUT TO JEAN GRAE)!

    Is there a double standard with men doing the same thing? Sure. But there are plenty of female fans that support it. Please believe if women weren’t all over Nelly back in the day, no one would be listening to him. And how many male rappers do you know that constantly whine about respect, actually get respect?

    Female rap fans and artists are going to have step their game up, broaden how they present themselves, and support each other if they want to gain ground in hip hop.

  • http://www.iap-tv.com Harra$Sdadon

    Amber tell them chicks move to Atlanta! weve got enough stripper poles Fo Ya!

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    this is a really good story…well written BUT it is an obvious answer to the question.

    as stated women aren’t equal in the world. this is definetly not a hip hop issue BUT its similar to the ongoing issues with hip hop like lyrical content and artist being paid for their work. its similar because nobody is searchin for the answers, people are just talkin about the problems.

    even though i think the writing is tight id rather see how tight u really are. thas just the way men think. its actually a good quality to have BUT one shouldn’t use sex to sell their talent and then be upset when they’re looked at weird for selling sex. that goes for all areas in life.

    to add, black women represent the category with the most potential because older white men are dying, black men are in jail, and white women marry for wealth. but their attitudes will keep them down. being a sex symbol is the least of the problem, how you respond is more imporant.

  • Anonymous

    skrew woman , they dont need respect wtf

  • nicholasdelorejo

    I think that a lot of you said it best. Female rappers have a problem getting respect because a lot of times they try to emulate their male counterpart instead of creating their own identities in rap. Someone said it best: Missy Elliot is probably the biggest female rapper of all time and that’s really because she didn’t try to be a whorish eye candy like Trina and Kia or a rough, man-like, dyke like Rah Digga. Shit she was overweight and whore siny jump suits and she came out as a fun, quirky, and entertaining artist who made creative music and videos. She didn’t box herself as the best “female” rapper but became one of the best RAPPERS in general. Female rappers need to focus on being artists first and not the female Biggie, the female Jay0z, or the female Busta Rhymes.

    I think that’s why Nicki Minaj is becoming more popular. People though she was a female version of Lil’ Wayne or a whorish Lil Kim copycat but she’s becoming an own artist in her own right. Is she the best rapper out? No. But she’s created her own lane that her’s only and not related to a male counterpart. Shit many people dislike male copycats so why should a female rapper get respect if she’s doing it too in an unusual manner.

  • A Mack

    @ Ayre and Sansbeach … just because I pick them doesn’t mean I have the final say … apparently men have bad taste at times too huh!!!

    But my chicks are always fly … don’t forget that!

    @Everyone else, good look on the feed back! For the people that were there to witness the events in question, lol, thanks for the support! And trust, I’m not afraid to put my knee to the groin at anytime … most people are afraid of the power my legs have!!! :-)

  • Meezy

    For the dudes that question a girl picking the web candy … most guys find girls looking at girls, doing girls, whatever with girls … attractive, so maybe you’re a little suspect!
    Just a thought.

  • BeerGangsta

    We need real woman like MC Lyte!! These Heffers nowdays are wack. If you don’t have a fat Azz or a pretty face. You won’t sell to much. Peace to Laurn Hill she won 5 Grammys now take that!!

  • http://hypestyleshomebase.blogspot.com Hypestyle

    Very good subject. It bears continued coverage in hip-hop culture magazines. Unfortunately, despite hip-hop’s status as an embattled, misunderstood culture that is subject to stereotypes by the mainstream, there are legitimate internal issues that need addressing such as sexism– do you defend freedom of speech uncritically, or do you say, hey, what’s up with all the b-word, h-word themes in songs? At the same time, building in part on what Madonna did decades ago, today’s sexpot lady rappers/singers/models have flipped having a sex-heavy image as being a feminist stance, “women taking control of their own sexuality” and what have you.

    The industry gatekeepers- men and women– need to step up and stand up for more diverse artists in the business– there are plenty of nicki minaj’s, foxy browns, lil’ kims up and coming– let’s look out for the new lauryn hills, mc lytes, jean graes..

  • YoUtopic

    I probably assume your situation was so because rappers usually get ass thrown at them all the time, so they kind of expect it at this point.

    I second putting Jean Grae on the cover of XXL.

  • Birdman

    Dudes should respect females in the industry, but there are too many females out there who just act like groupies. Dudes become accustomed to being around chicks that are down for whatever. As a result, women (such as urself) who are not about that have to put up with the extra nonsense.

  • http://www.TheRealJayMills.com TheRealJayMills

    as female in the hip-hop industry, this article really hit home. You are so right, but the truth is that we (as african-american women) are a representative of the collective state of affairs between men and women on this planet.

    Its not just hip-hop, a white woman can tell you the same exact story about trying to become a partner or highlevel assiciate in corporate america. This is EVERY woman’s struggle. We got our rights after slaves did….meaning we were considered less than 3/5ths of a person for a very long time.

    We have got to re-align ourselves with the Sacred Woman inside of us. I LOVE Erykah Badu for breaking down the barriers we deal with as far as objectifying our body….

    our bodies were meant to be worshipped, not disrespected.
    women in Hip-Hop will bring back the balance of nature….

    and “The MAN” ain’t havin it!!