Hip-hop music, according to Joan Morgan, is a powerful force in popular culture. However, she also criticized how hip-hop “repeatedly reduced me to tits and ass and encourages pimping on the regular. ” Emphasis is given on how machismo and sexism prevail in the lyrics of hip-hop music. As is seen in various examples highlighted in Morgan’s article, hip-hop music taught men to treat women without the respect and love that they deserve. They came to learn to treat women as objects to fulfill sexual desires, calling them “bitches” and “hos”.
It is seen in hip-hop music how women use sex as a weapon to gain material wealth and protection, not because they want it, but because it is the only option they have. This only shows how women are, in modern times, still victims of gender inequality. Over and over again, these themes have been the topic of hip-hop music, along with “alcoholism, substance abuse and chemical dependency. ” After all, hip-hop music has done much to encourage these acts unbecoming of decent people. However, Morgan also suggested it as a part of a more complex problem, stemming from the racism experienced by black people.
All these talks about sex and drugs and crimes are reflections of the bitterness, the hurt that the black people feel, resulting to more damage. According to Morgan, crimes committed against black people, are more likely done by black people themselves. White people are long ago out of the question. Depictions of a violent and cruel world where everything can be bought by money and sleeping with a rapper will give you a record contract gives them self-satisfaction and a self-liberating feeling when they play master and the women their slaves.
But deep inside they do not feel real happiness as they fail to face their problems and responsibilities in reality. In the end they continue to feel empty. Take for example the music video of the song “Gold Digger” by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, which topped the charts at the time of its release and even won a couple of Grammy Awards. The video alternates with scenes of West and Foxx singing, women wearing skimpy lingerie making poses for men’s magazines, and women dancing all over the men.
These depictions of women in the video did not give any love, let alone respect for women in general. They are merely seen as objects of desire that can be bought anytime of the day. There are also some scenes in the music video wherein the men are dragged into a dark room where all the women wearing lingerie are present. They are represented as nothing more than “bitches” and “hos” only after these men for their money. As it is, these women are depicted to give sex to those who can pay, and even trick some of the richer guys into marrying them.
One scene in the video even spelled out the word “pre-nupt” as the men supposedly wanted pre-nuptial agreements before marrying these women so that they can’t touch a cent of the men’s money. Even the lyrics of the song, sung in the point of view of a rich husband, describes how his wife tricked him into marrying him by saying that she’s pregnant with his son, but after eighteen years, he found out that he was not the real father of this child. Now that he wants a divorce, half of his assets will go the cheating wife.
Nevertheless, the “kid” in the video was white and not black, a direct allusion that it is not his child. His perpetrator was “white”. This not only shows how lowly they think of women but of how they are forced to do these things so that they can have financial and emotional security that they cannot in themselves achieve because they are prevented from doing so. Women themselves are deprived of the love and care they need as the men continually search for physical love and satisfy their egos in order to forget their own worries and problems.
In a deeper context, “Gold Digger” tries to disguise the hurt of being fooled, of being cheated, by bragging that yes, she’s a gold digger, I’m rich and I can afford to buy any girl I want. The video did not objectify men and women. The difference in the treatment of men and women can be seen in the whole video. In a sense, the men are the customers, and the women, mere products they could buy and use at their whims. As Morgan puts it, it is not about calling women “bitches” or “hos”, but men’s incapability to show love.
They treat women as some kind of objects because it is the only way that they can feel powerful. This incapability to love proves Morgan’s point that these men are hurt. The pain has taken something very special from them, and that is the ability to love and to care for others. The distrust for women shown in “Gold Digger” is there, in the first place, because these men are afraid, afraid to love and get hurt in the process. But because of this loss, women became victims of abusive treatment.
One lesson that can be learned is that love per se is not synonymous with sex. According to Morgan, we all should learn to address our issues and better treat each other. We should eliminate all the barricades caused by the depiction of women in hip-hop music and eliminate the confusions. As mentioned earlier, hip-hop has a big influence on popular culture. What we hear, we incorporate in our minds and way of living. We can use this influence to create hip-hop music that loves, respects, and most importantly, hip-hop music that forgives.
Courtney from Study Moose
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