Thursday, October 8, 2009
Sexism and Misogyny: Who Takes the Rap?
This article by bell hooks is an awesome criticism of the critiques of gangsta rap music. Since hooks is a woman of color and a well known feminist author, she is often the tokenized "black feminist" who gets called for interviews regarding her opinions of gangsta rap. To the interviewers surprise however, hooks is more interested in discussing how the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy creates a space where this music is acceptable and how the values expressed in the misogynist lyrics found in gangsta rap are a direct reflection of the values seen within the dominant culture.
While the media tends to sensationalize the violent, anti-woman messages in gangsta rap and portray this culture as a sort of pathological deviance from the dominant culture, it is in fact a direct result of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. The overindulgence of material goods as well as male domination over women are clear representations of our capitalist patriarchal society and although the white supremacist piece is missing, this could explain the dramatic emphasis placed on the capitalist patriarchal lyrics seen in gangsta rap.
Hooks criticizes Brent Staples critique of gangta rap music in his article "The Politics of Gangsta Rap: A Music Celebrating Murder and Misogyny". Although staples succeeds in demonizing black male youth, he makes no mention of the cultural contexts that socialize men to have these misogynistic views and he also does not address why a huge portion of gangsta rap consumers are young white men. Gangsta rap did not evolve in a vacuum and the better question to ask is not "why are young black men creating this type of music" but rather "why does this music and these lyrics appeal to mainstream culture?" In a capitalist society things are produced in accordance their demand and if nobody wanted to hear this music and the violent messages that go along with it, then folks would not be producing it.
heres the link to the article if you're interested