Monday, October 12, 2009

Gender and Sexuality in Hip-hop

This week's readings and lecture cover representations of masculinity and femininity in Hip-hop and the gender stereotypes that circulate in the music and culture. As you blog on key words GENDER and SEXUALITY, think about the ways MCs and the media manipulate some of the Hip-hop stereotypes we discussed last week (thug, wannabe, gold-digger, etc. Some questions that may aid you in developing your responses are as follows:
How are particular gender stereotypes disrupted by male and female MCs? How does Hip-hop circulate images of "normative" heterosexuality in Hip-hop? How are stereotypes used by the media to construct particular images of African Americans and other racial and ethnic groups who engage Hip-hop? How do these stereotypes of gender and sexuality associated with African Americans in Hip-hop translate across racial, ethnic and national lines?

31 comments:

  1. In hip-hop culture, heterosexuality is the only form of sexuality that is acceptable. It’s almost as if homosexuality is non-existent unless homophobic remarks are being made. Hip-hop circulates images of “normative” heterosexuality through everything from fashion to even the way people who identify with the hip-hop culture carry themselves but the obvious medium to pass along this message has been music.
    In music, the “heterosexuality is the only sexuality” mindset has been a recurring theme since the beginning of hip-hop but saw a sudden increase in the 1990s. Jamaican artist, Elephant Man, declares in one of his songs, “When you hear a lesbian getting raped/ It’s not out fault… two women in bed/That’s two Sodomites who should be dead.” It’s also in the 90s that we see the beginning of the use of the word “fag” or “faggot.” With lyrics like these, it’s hard for the listener of hip-hop music to accept homosexuality.
    Homosexuality brings into question the manhood and masculinity of the hip-hop community and this is something that should never be questioned in the hip-hop. To combat this, homophobic remarks have made it into mainstream hip-hop and in today’s hip-hop music, phrases like “no homo” continue to suggest that homophobia is still prevalent.

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  2. The terms gender and sexuality, while both descriptive in definition are both extremely vague in nature. In terms of hip-hop culture, the interpretations become broader. In my opinion and echoed within Marcyliena Morgan’ and Paul Gilroy’s articles, the interpretation of the terms gender and sexuality are completely dependent on one’s gender and sexuality. Thus, while the terms have multiple interpretations and diverging tracks of thought and history, it comes down to the fact that there are two opposing connotations with the words gender and sexuality in hip-hop culture in reference to females; those who associate with the male gender and commonly accepted ideals of masculinity base their interpretations of women off of the male-dominated, historically routed stereotypes, whereas, those who associate with the female gender and modernity of the female role take an opposite approach. Morgan’s article correctly depicts the stereotypical machismo and misogynistic male stereotype as rooted in the product of slavery, where black women were treated as property with no protective rights. Therefore, the desire for most hip-hop ambassadors to keep hip-hop connected with its “roots” has failed to evolve any of the concepts to fit the current society. Conversely, the new-age of females working into society today have taken the stereotypes of gender and sexuality roles imposed on them and are attempting to redefine what it means to be a “woman” today. Gender and sexuality represent an ongoing battle of the evolution and future of evolution of hip-hop.

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  3. In lecture on Monday, we defined gender as referring to socially constructed roles, behavior, activities, and attributes that a particular society considers “appropriate” for men and women. I like the point that Marcylinea Morgan makes in her article. She says: “It is common for hip-hop women to say that they support men and at the same time want to be respected and in control of their bodies. Supporting men recognizes race and class hypocrisy and does not mean that men make decisions for women. Rather, irrespective of who is leading, women and men support their relationship, critique racism, and classism, and respect each other.” (237) Morgan is stating that in our day and age, men and women support each other and they are equal. I like this statement because I feel like the generation my peers and I grew up in was one where men and women were allowed the same opportunities and respected one another. However, on this point we also talked about sexuality in class as being a set of “normative” behaviors set forth by social and cultural sites. We discussed a lot about the mistreatment of women in hip hop. I feel like at some point the mistreatment of women will equal out and men will start to treat them with respect, just like Morgan says they need to.

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  4. Many females seem to face a more difficult task of being successful or viewed in a positive way when it comes to their involvement with hip-hop. Both women and men in hip-hop are often stereotyped regardless of how different they are from that stereotype. This view consists of men being dominant, womanizing, forceful, “hyper masculine”, and more. At the same time, women are construed as disposable, easy, sexual objects, and so on. Even in today’s hip-hop culture, there are still male artists who are considered to fall within the typical stereotype, but I believe that more male hip-hop artists are focusing more on the craft and not just the mere persona that they must have to be a “successful” hip-hop artist. For example, Jay-Z is not just on a yacht with women in bikinis, but he is in a video with Kanye West and Rihanna that taps into an integral part of hip-hop history. Female hip-hop artists seem to still have a more difficult time breaking away from their stereotype. The article “Hip-Hop Women Shredding the Veil” gives examples as to typical women stereotypes such as the African Mother (Queen Latifah) or the Street Smart female (Eve or Missy Elliott) (Morgan 428). Today, women don’t dominate the hip-hop scene as much as the men, but they are still there making their presence known. Regardless of what stereotype they may be casted in, they all share similar characteristics such as hardworking, skillful, and intelligent to become successful.

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  5. Marcyliena Morgan describes the “good woman” in “Shredding the Veil: Race and Class in Popular Feminist Identity.” According to Morgan, the good woman “needs protection and is provided for” (426). American society describes what a good woman is, but does not take into account the culture that that woman identifies with. Morgan also claims that black women were never supposed to be a part of this protection, and black women have had to work harder than white women (426). As a male-dominated culture, hip-hop has forced women to become victims of misogyny violence (427). A black woman’s identification with her gender has always been a product of her race, and the social constructions that surround racial identity. As such, gender is also socially constructed, and hip-hop has constructed the role of women in hip-hop in negative way, making them play characters such as the “gold digger.”
    In the film American Pimp, sexuality is discussed in the lifestyles of pimps. The concepts of illegal and legal prostitution/pimping are discussed, and sexuality partially determines how men and/or women use their bodies in selling sex. Pimping is glorified in this documentary, and sexual stereotypes come through in the interviews. However, the negative side of sexuality in pimping is shown, with prostitutes and pimps in jail.

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  6. These days there are several aspiring rappers, both men and women. As I reflect upon Marcyliena Morgan’s “ Hip-hop Women Shredding the Veil: Race and Class in Popular Feminist Identity” it describes the ways in which women used to strive for themselves as they worked hard labor in hopes of supporting their family. These days more and more aspiring rappers set the tone for sex objects rather than aspiring artists. However, it is not merely their fault, because society plays a huge role in the way the audience perceives these women. As mentioned in earlier posts, rappers have the common stereotypes of “bad asses” or “thugs”, when these women are trying to take on the role of a rapper they too are perceived to be “hard asses” but have more of a sexual twist laid upon them. Because in our society, they are women, not men, they are more susceptible to the harassment of the sexual tendencies that go on in the Hip-Hop world.

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  7. Hip-hop is a male dominated genre of music. There have been some females for time to time to show up on the scene, but for the most part the new names you hear are those of the gentlemen. For those few women that do get in the game, most of the time they have to have a male-centered persona about them. There are the few exceptions of the feminine females that have come along and played the game for a little while.
    Because of the male domination of hip-hop, there have become certain stereotypes that are basically etched into stone. There are male-stereotypes that rappers must be rich, strong, handsome, sexually active, and use sex in a recreational way. For women however, have some very offensive terms that have been geared towards them, such as: ho, gold digger, slut, promiscuous, single mothers and many more.
    The hip-hop game is also very heterosexually based. There are often derogative terms used against homosexuals to make the rappers feel ore “manly”. This ranges from rappers across the board, both time and location. From Tupac to Biggie to Eminem to Ja Rule. This has become the style of what sells on the market so more and more artist are producing this type of music.

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  8. One of the major themes that circulates throughout hip-hop music is sexuality. Frequently, the theme of sexuality is used negatively and often is expressed in the form of misogyny (Lecture 10/12). Many male MCs incorporate sexists and misogynistic lyrics in their narratives. As explained in lecture, women regularly are referred to as “hos”, bitches, and sluts in many lyrics. The stereotype regarding the sexist terms is used by male MCs to make women seem and feel inferior compared to the opposite sex. A prime example of women being shed in a negative light is the song “Superman” by Eminem. Throughout the song Eminem refers to the woman as a slut, bitch, and disrespects her in various other ways. He uses his lyrics to paint a picture of a male-dominated, abusive relationship between a women and himself. Eminem, by far, is not the only rapper to condescend women in his writing. Sexuality is expressed in hip-hop music in ways which are not directly condescending towards a specific woman, but may be looked at as disrespectful to women in general. An example is Sir Mix-a-lot’s “Baby Got Back”. The song may not be as blunt and distasteful as “Superman”, but “Baby Got Back” is a song that is aimed towards exploiting women in a sexual manner. An entire song revolving around the size of a woman's butt does not result in any respectful images or opinions towards women. The lyrics represent the idea that men can just use women as sexual objects whenever they want. In response to misogyny in hip-hop culture, women work to disable sexist stereotypes. Many female MCs such as Missy Elliott and Lil Kim work to redefine negative terms used against women by owning up terms such as “gold-digger” and manipulating them so they no longer have a negative effect (Lecture 10/12).

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  9. Gender refers to the socially constructed role behaviors, activities, and attributes that a particular society considers appropriate for men and women. It also gives rise to gender, inequalities. Sexuality is normally heterosexual, and is political based on varying social context. I thought the most interesting theme of Mondays lecture was how black men view black women, including opportunist, sexually promiscuous, viewed as accessories and objects, and single mothers. Every stereotype holds some type of truth to it. I think the women in the hip hop industry allow themselves to be viewed in such a negative way because either they like the attention given and many women do certain things just to survive. I am not trying to justify some of these negative stereotypes, but I do understand why some women allow themselves to be “accessories” or “objects” because they want a chance to live that successful life. Kanye West “Golddigger” defines many women in the hip hop industry. He states “ She got one of your kids got you for 18 years
    I know somebody paying child support for one of his kids. His baby mamma's car and crib is bigger than his..”(http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/kanyewest/golddigger.html). The quote relates back to the stereotype of black women being single mothers. Kanye took it further basically stating she’s using the kids for her own advancement.

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  10. Hip hop has many other elements, other than the fundamental elements, that can be considered political. The two most controversial elements being gender and sexuality. Gender is what sex a person is born into and sexuality is what gender a person is drawn to. In hip hop, MC's of the male gender, as discussed in lecture, generally personify a misogynistic character. Some of the stereotypical characters that male MC's play are; the player, the pimp, the thug, the gangster etc. Women, however, stereotypically take on roles such as; the "gold digger," "the opportunist," "the ho," "the bitch," etc. The most important thing to understand about these roles is that they are all socially constructed. It seems that a lot of the support on this topic is being force fed to women for being victims, but on the other side of the coin, men are somehow victims too. Generally record companies want this type of rapper because it is what sells records. If the rapper does not take on a misogynistic approach to his record then he stands a chance of not being heard. Granted there are some artists who produce hip hop music with a different message, it has been in my experience that the majority of famous rappers will have music at some point or another which degrades women. If Mc's want to rap about making the world a better place and what not then their rhymes and everything will have to be superior to what is already out on the market in order for then to be heard and sell big. On the topic of sexuality, I was delighted to hear in the lecture about one of my favorite rappers, the brat. She neither presents herself with a superfemanine appearance nor does she use a feminine delicacy in her style of rhyming. She defies the female stereotypes that have been placed on women and defends her position as a "good" rapper by excelling, and rapping better than most male artist in my opinion. Though she could be perceived as a homosexual due to her style of dress, this is not the case.

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  11. In Hip-hop, gender and sexuality are major themes. In particular, heterosexual, non-monogamous relationships are very popular. With the “thug”, “player”, and “pimp” stereotypes played out in the music, heterosexuality is synonymous with hyper-masculinity. For example, in 50 Cent’s popular song “In Da Club,” he states that “… I’m in there having sex/ I ain’t into making love…” He later on says that “…I’m that cat by the bar, toasting to the good light/ You’re that faggot ass nigger trying to pull me back right…” With these, he is simultaneously asserting that he has sexual prowess and is able to pick up any female he desires while showing that he is intolerant of those males who are not aggressive. It does not state, however, whether he means sexually aggressive or physically aggressive.
    In this song alone, it provides this idea that heterosexuality in Hip-hop is constructed of males who are interested in sex as frequently and with as many partners as they so desire to have. Although there are songs that embrace the loving and “one-woman man” relationships, the appeal of having many women appears to have more of the staying power and money that MCs are looking for.

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  12. Media is a very influential tool in creating sterotypes of African-Americans. As talked about in discussion, artist Snoop Dog uses provacative images on the cover of his CD. Many would view him as a secist pig who does not respect women. Another event we talked about in class was Kanye West at the MTV Music Awards when he interupted Taylor Swift's speech. The scene was repeatedly played on MTV and a variety of other channels as an act of stupidity and rudeness. Majoirty of the audience at home watching were appolled by Kanye's outburst and judged him because of the way media personfied the event.

    As sterotypes of African-Americans are analyzed, the view of them varry between races. This is because actions of an African-American viewed by a white community may be considered immoral and wrong. But viewed by an all African-American community may be considered acceptable. Reasons of this is because of how one is raised in a community and their influences from culture, their family, and peers. This is true also when discussing women and their role in society. In the essay "Hip-Hop Feminist" the author writes "Calling rappers out for their sexism withouth mentioning the complicity of the 100 or so video-hos that turned up--G-string in hand--for the shoot.." (281) creating the image that male artist potray women as in their music videos. This is just another patriarchal tool males use in trying to potray women as easy, slutty, and second grade citizens.

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  13. Tosin Morohunfola: Gender roles are embedded into our society as well as Hip-hop music and culture. As memorable as the normative supportive housewife of the 1950s was, there is still plenty of remnants of that “Leave it to Beaver”-esque relationship in today’s day and age. As revolutionary as his thinking was, it is W.E.B. Du Bois who can be partially blamed for this continued way of thinking. Du Bois promoted a sort of society, “that requires patriarchal protection—the notion that women should be protected nevertheless provided some form of safety and propriety. It also was the basis of American cultural views of ‘the good woman’ and the cult of true womanhood. The good woman needs and gets protection and is provided for.” (Morgan, 426). This thinking is a huge part of the reason that, in relationships, American men feel culturally pressured to be the bread-winners and women feel pressured to be the care-takers.
    This philosophy of gender roles and gender relationships pervades into other areas of life too. Though sexuality and gender are not synonymous (as many presume them to be) they are still related. It is true that there are few biologically set behavioral patterns specific of men and specific of women, and that includes sexual behavior. So, no, sexuality and gender are not synonymous. However, the two are related in that there is expected sexual behavior of men and expected behavior of women. There are also stereotypes. For instance, men are supposed to be normative heterosexuals and in fact, homophobia is often an undercurrent of Hip-hop. (Hodges Persely, 10/12/09) Women, too, have gender-enforced expectations. Normatively-speaking, women are sexually promiscuous, accessories to men, sexual objects and opportunistic, crafty gold-diggers. (Hodges Persely, 10/12/09).
    We spend a lot of time in this class talking about Hip-hop and our relationship to Hip-hop culture but I think that gender and sexuality is one of the areas that definitely pervades throughout society. These gender and sexual identities extend far beyond just Hip-hop culture. All Americans deal with these dynamics. But, then again, maybe that advanced globalization is just another feature of Hip-hop culture.

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  14. The dominant, “alpha male” style of living has dominated the hip-hop world. As we learned in lecture, mainstream Hip-hop represents sexuality as normatively heterosexual. This creates a stereotype that you have to be a hetero-male to be a rapper; especially when artists use homophobic comments and “disses” to become more dominant. In Marcyliena Morgan’s article, she writes that “the hip-hop community does not provide a platform for all views, since it can be fanatically heterosexist” (436). This concept that heterosexuality is basically what you have to be in order to be successful in the rap industry creates a problem. This idea has now been embedded into the minds of all Hip-hop performers and active listeners, which leaves no room for diversity or change. “The misogynist representations of male desire—where any woman who does not support or like a man who likes her is by definition dishonest, scheming, unfaithful,
    or a lesbian” (436) Morgan concludes. Again, the stereotypical norm that has been created in order to define what you can and can’t be in the hip-hop industry. It shouldn’t matter if your heterosexual, homosexual, bi-sexual or whatever in order to be taken seriously. But in order to stick to the “status quo”, you have to be part of the norm, which in hip-hop is predominantly heterosexual.

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  15. In hip hop the norms of sexuality are as follows: men are dominant, hyper masculine, hyper sexual and always heterosexual with the reoccurrence of homophobic remarks. For example in the song Girls,Girls,Girls by Jay-Z he references all of the women that he is “dating” and ends by saying “I got so many girls across the globe”.
    Women on the other hand are seen as sexual objects, opportunistic, non-intelligent, promiscuous, and an accessory to a man. These ideas of women stem form slavery when black women were seen as “mammy, matriarch, castrator, manipulator and whore” (Morgan 426) and black women are mocked for their “sexuality, social class, determination, commitment to family, passion, and public displays of women hood” (Morgan 426).
    To combat these stereotypes female MC’s denounce the terms bitch, ho, and gold-digger by redefining and making these words “positive”. Even though these female MC’s do this they are still forced to take on a “masculine” appearance or “masculine” cadence of their rapping. An example of this is Lil Kim. She appears to be very feminine, but when she raps her voice becomes very deep in comparison to her normal voice and she becomes hyper sexual, like a male MC.
    Black women are not the only women that face these hurdles. Any women that is trying to climb the social ladder, or trying to enter a stereotypical male position is seen as deviating from what is “normal” female behavior.

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  16. In class on Monday our discussion was focused on gender and sexuality in hip-hop. “Gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behavior, and activities that particular society consider appropriate for men and women. Gender plays a huge role since hip hop is dominated mostly by men. This dominance is secured the men diminishing the role of women in hip-hop. However, women continue to compete but are considered inferior and have to used their skills to secure their role. Most successful women MC’s have to appear “masculine” in order to be taken seriously. Sexuality in hip-hop is represents mainly only heterosexuality. Homophobic remarks are made solely by male rappers trying to diminish homosexuality. “Normative” sexuality is referred as heterosexuality in hip-hop and I feel is circulated in order to keep hip-hop appealing to the dominant heterosexual listeners. These homophobic remarks make it hard for the public listeners to accept homosexuality in hip-hop and this should never be the case. Many women MC’s make claims in their music suggesting gender equality in hip-hop and often try to resignify the stereotypes of the homophobic remarks and also the “bitch”, “ho”, and “gold digger” remarks.

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  17. As we have discussed with past topics, Hip-Hop arose as a musical outlet for the struggles of an oppressed people. Whether it was rhymes about lack of public works, or gang violence, the music represented issues within the community. It then makes sense, that we only hear the negative of women in hip-hop, the ‘gold-diggin’ hoochie momma’, rather than the ‘caring mother and loving wife’. The ‘hoochie’ gets expressed as a struggle through song, while the wife goes unmentioned, consequently unappreciated in the public eye. This reaffirms early hip-hop in its roots from the streets was not a music of, ‘this is why everything in my life is so perfect’, but rather ‘these are my everyday struggles’. This was then continued on as hip-hop began to build upon its own established traditions of struggle, following similar themes, including women as ‘property’ or ‘hoes’. This image is furthered on the braggadocio side of Hip-hop. Young black women do not like the man, but are only around because he is now well off. Women are something men desire, and as a result, only further played into the battle of “who has the hotter hoe”, similar to whom has a nicer car, or bigger diamonds/cash rolls. All of this degradation of young black women, yet the white women seems relatively unharmed by hip-hop, protected. This ongoing suppression as property, or something lower, in Hip-hop is just a micro reflection the issues black women have faced in society since the beginning of slavery as we saw laid out by Du Bois in the introduction to the Marcyliena Morgan article, and addressed within the article, “Hip-Hop Women Shredding the Veil: Race and Class in Popular Feminist Identity”.

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  18. Many black women are trying to break through and find there identity in the patriachal hip hop scene. There are two seperate approaches that were addressed in the readings: Lauryn Hill, whose low key sweet powerful voice can be groved to, and Eve whose in your face agressive rhymes try to blow down the barriers by force. Both have had measured success in their own ways but neither has alleviated the problem enough to were a solution to the patriachal macho hip hop scene can be easily found in the near future. Sexuality is a big deal in hip hop and it goes with the overly masculine image. Men have to be with women, that is why many rappers and others in hip hop culture are on the down low, to keep up their public face while being with the partners of their choice.

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  19. Hip-hop is dominated by male artists who are infamous for exaggerating their sense of manliness. As we discussed in lecture, this act is called machismo. This machismo is an effect of the fact that homophobia, a fear of homosexuals, is a big issue with many male MCs. The issue with homophobia stems from the fact that male MCs rely on gender, set of characteristics people use to distinguish between males and females, to determine whether someone is in fact homosexual or not. Male MCs constantly assert homophobic remarks so they can establish their manliness even more. Eminem is notorious for using these remarks in his songs. In “Criminal” by Eminem, he sings things such as, “Homophobic? Hey fags, the answer’s yes.” These remarks are not only highly offensive, but an obvious statement of machismo. Male MCs also assert their manliness through degrading sexuality, the expression of people as sexual beings, lyrics. Hip-hop artists like 50 Cent and Nelly have lyrics and music videos that degrade women and brag about their many sexual partners. These are just another way that male MCs use machismo to assert their manliness and force female MCs to feel inferior in the hip-hop industry.

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  20. In lecture, we learned that gender "refers to the socially constructed roles, behavior, activities, and attributes that a particular society considers 'appropriate' for men and women." In hip-hop, the dominant gender is male. Women are mistreated throughout the hip-hop industry by rappers in their lyrics. Females are often referred to negatively by being called things like "bitches" and "hos." Women are often portrayed as being "slutty" and "provocative" in music videos. In class, we viewed Nelly's Tip Drill video in which scantily-clad women are shown walking around in very small bikinis. There are some women that are accepted in the hip-hop industry because they are very skillful. However, women often have to dress and act masculine to be taken seriously. We see this in female rapper Missy Elliot because she tends to wear jerseys and jumpsuits. Hip-Hop is a primarily heterosexual industry. Black men represent black female sexuality in mostly negative ways. Women are often sexually promiscuous, accessories to men, sexual objects, 'gold-diggers', and unintelligent. According to Marcyliena Morgan's article, many successful female MCs are subjects of rumors regarding their sexuality. This subject is still ongoing in today's world of pop culture most recently with Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga is a new highly successful artist and when people question her being bisexual, she is proud to be it and tends to shrug off any negative questions she receives regarding it.

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  21. Gender and sexuality play a huge part in hip hop, as there are still prejudices regarding gender in hip-hop, as many feel that some women emcees aren't up to the caliber of male emcees. In class, gender was basically stated as "socially constructed roles attributed to either men or women. Socioeconomic status, social status plays out in material ways." So gender is a very broad topic, and it is difficult to base gender on one particular thing. In Marcyliena Morgan's article, "Shredding The Veil: Race and class in Popular Feminist Identity," she talks about the current state of hip-hop tends to be focusing on misogyny and violence, making it increasing difficult to become apart of the mainstream hip-hop scene. Gender plays a huge role in hip-hop as most rappers and groups are men, and in order for women become apart of hip-hop they have to demonstrate masculine traits in order to be taken seriously. If more women like Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah who are proud of being women start entering hip-hop, then gender will become less of an issue, but until then men will maintain the power of the hip-hop game.

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  22. In class this week we discussed the Sex and Gender roles that appear in Hip-Hop. The difference between sexuality and gender is that gender roles are what is considered socially acceptable behavior of the sexes. The norm in Hip-Hop has always been Heterosexuality where as Homosexuality is un-heard-of with the exception of Homophobic remarks. As Hip-Hop is mainly dominated by males many of the sexual themes we see are directed towards men. Sexuality is normally portrayed as recreational and that sex by force is acceptable. Women are made inferior or disposable while men are made out to be “players” and “pimps” and are praised for how many women, or in the Hip-Hop realm “bitches” and “ho’s”, they can sleep with over their lifetime. Female MC’s are forced to constantly defend and justify their positions in the Hip-Hop world. Some Women decide to take on these stereotypical roles to get into the business and then try to break away as we saw in the book “Confessions of a Video Vixen”. Other Female MC’s try to be as masculine as possible in order to be more socially acceptable.

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  23. I am not surprised that gender and sexuality play a large role in hip hop today. The “normative” sexuality for hip hop is heterosexuality and the majority of rappers are male. I think that the majority of rappers are male because that’s how it has been since the beginning of hip hop. There were groups like Arrested Development that had female members but for the most part; Hip Hop has been dominated by males. When I was younger, I never really knew about the struggle that female rappers have in hip hop. I always just thought that there were few female rappers because only a few females were interested in rapping. I always thought that Da Brat was just a tomboy and she dressed like a boy because she wanted to, not because she was more accepted when she was like “one of the guys”.

    I think the dominant sexuality in hip hop is heterosexuality because the men in hip hop want to seem as masculine as possible. Society has made the gay image into a punk or a “bitch”. If rappers were to say that they are gay they would automatically adopt the punk or “bitch” image so to stay away from that image they over compensate for their masculinity. One way they do this is by degrading women. They have 80 half naked women in their videos to show that they love women and that they are so macho that they even have power over them. I think the thirst for power is the reason behind the “macho” and “masculine” ideas in hip hop.

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  24. Gender and sexulity play a HUGE role in Hip-Hop. If you notice that a majority of the lyric make references to gender and sexualtiy. In lecture on Monday we discussed most of the different topics within sexuality that are portrayed in Hip-Hop. One of the most relevent is the presents of heterosexuality, heterosexuality is the only form of sexuality that is acceptable in the Hip-Hop culture, things like homosexuality are usually the punch line or the insult for many Hip-Hop artists. As it is obvious to see, men are the most domonant in the hip-hop culture; they are able to use their own masculinity to show themselves as powerful and better than women. One of the largest issues I can see in Hip-Hop is how women are portrayed. From the reading, behind the veil, women are seen as "bitches", "ho's" or "gold diggers" and these terms can even be used interchangably. It's extremely difficult for a women to gain popularity as a rapper, she must have superior skills and also be seen in a different way than the women that are objectified in songs. Mostly women artist must defend themselves threw their songs and usually don't have opprutinity to sing about their life exteriences as most other man rappers do.The double standard that women recive in the hip-hop world is something that clearly needs to change, there are a lot of women artists that are presently trying to change this and without that respect from men in the same field it can never be achieved.

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  25. Hip-hop is fundamentally social commentary. The critiques of the urban environment and perceived attitudes have been deep seated themes that have been prevalent since the beginning of hip-hop. Society is wovenn together by compromise and conflict. Long lived debates over gender roles and sexuality issues have been a central conflict in the establishment of civilization. Hip-hop, therefore, naturally has to encompass these ideas surrounding gender and sexuality.

    The major recurring themes within hip-hop are classically masculine characteristics. The ideas of boasting, braggadocio, and confrontation are basic primal male qualities. In order for female MCs to acclimate to hip-hop, albeit unfair, they must attempt to embody this accepted historical view of the MC. The most successful female MCs are the ones who have been able to play the game and still carve out a place for the strong, individualistic woman. The marriage between MCing and showing womanhood is daunting but the attempt is necessary. Marcyliena Morgan, Professor at Harvard University sums this up as, "Female MCs use hip-hop to develop and display their lyrical skills as well as present and challenge what it means to be a young black woman in America and the world" (Morgan 427). It is the delicate balance between being accepted as a legitmate MC and telling the story of being a woman which is the most difficult aspect for a female MC.

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  26. In nearly any genre, culture or group, gender has played a role in some fashion. It is no surprise to see gender and sexuality as an influence of the roles in Hip-hop. As men are seen to be dominant in the Hip-hop scene, women are forced to try even harder to become successful in this genre. The social norms surrounding Hip-hop and African American culture have led to the stereotypes that female artists are inferior and less able to produce portions of Hip-hop culture as successfully as men. Females surrounding the Hip-hop genre are thought to be more of property and objects than of actual artists. For success to occur by women there is a expectation that they drop the sense of femininity and transition into a character with mannerisms similar to a male. Gilroy speaks about the authenticity of Hip-hop being defined through sexuality and interaction between men and women and how this idea should reflect on the discourse taking place about how the two should be separated. Focusing on gender in Hip-hop detracts from the actual art, performance, and music being created.

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  27. Gender in hip-hop is traditionally and predominantly considered to be male, and with good reason: the female presence in the genre is far less than that of men. This is problematic, largely because of the associative ties between hip-hop and black culture. The inherent misogyny of this fact seems to point to blackness as a largely patriarchal culture, but two of the three articles argued against the marginalization of women in hip-hop. Morgan argues that women have to be more proficient than their male counterparts in rap, since they must use the established and decidedly male tropes to express themselves in a way that is both credible and palatable to their audience. Any success, she argues, points to strong women that deserve to be recognized rather than reprimanded.
    Sexuality is closely linked with gender in hip-hop, but inherent in this issue is both misogyny and homophobia. Rap production reflects an overwhelmingly homophobic aesthetic that has only recently come to be problematized. Sexuality also is a factor in the issues of gender, since the male ethos represented by most rap artists is usually a hypersexualized one that demeans women simply as sexual objects. Again, women rappers who are able to succeed must use the vernacular established by these male characters to express their own femininity and sexuality, by no means an easy task.

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  28. I strongly agree with the idea that gender is socially constructed by society. We are taught at a young age how "little boys" and "little girls" should act. Anything out of the status quo of things is labled "abnormal", or more literal "queer". If a boy wants to enroll in dance classes, he is labeled "gay" or "feminine", or any young girl who wants to wear baggy clothes and play football is thought of as "tomboy"ish. Hip hop is no exception. We automatically associate a good MC with being male, and find it quite "queer" for that role to be handed over to a female. Which is why at the early stages of Hip-Hop women would dress less feminine, also having to prove they are more proficient with their writings.

    Hip-hop is also used as a medium to assert masculinity, and hyper-masculinity. Boasting about being able to please several women at a time, and showing little to now reguard to their female counterparts. Homosexuality is appeared to be the opposite of Hip-Hop. This is especially true with the usage of the phrase "that's gay".

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  29. The question of sexuality in Hip-Hop comes down to stereotypes on genders that are not specific to hip-hop, but universal in our society. As it goes, males are the governing gender in a game that is dominated by machismo and homophobic tendencies and whereas females are seen as secondary and submissive to males. Males MC’s are expected to degrade women by calling them “golddiggers,” “hoes,” “kickdowns” and “shorties” while women MC’s are expected to be subservient and as more of sexual objects than actual respected MC’s. Rappers that have broken these stereotypes such as Lupe Fiasco, who has consistently refused to use derogatory language towards women, have not been as big-sellers as those who maintain the degrading status quo. Female rappers such as Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Da Brat, and Lil’ Kim have had successful careers in the hip-hop game, but have not sold nearly as many copies of their records as their male counterparts. Queen Latifah has made her fame on the image of a strong, sexual black woman while Lil’ Kim made got famous by imitating the style of Notorious B.I.G.

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  30. The increasing complexity of gender identification and role-playing in society has forged the modern view of gender as both socially constructed and historically determined (Foucalt). In hip-hop, an arena rife with machismo and competitive display, gender roles have therefore often been equated with claims of power and respect. A persistent inequality developed in which the virile, hypermasculine male MC lyrically degraded women as objects and homosexuals as abnormalities. According to Marcyliena Morgan, female MCs “do not use their […] genre to destroy the veil of race, gender, and class discrimination. They prefer to render it diaphanous, so that it can be […] manipulated as symbol, warning, and memory” (427). Women in hip-hop construct their narratives by predicting and re-signifying these stereotypes instead of ignoring them. Theirs is an act of counter-representation, a deliberate and skillful treatment of traditional labels in order to subvert their implications. Artists of every gender/sexual persuasion are seeking a re-evaluation of the criteria of respect, not in hopes of establishing a new status quo, but rather of abolishing it altogether in recognition of the multiplicity of physical and mental orientations.

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  31. Hip-hop has had a major influence and impact on present day media. Hip-hop culture is constantly showed and shaped around all four elements of hip-hop just by the fashion, music, and graffiti that exist today. Dr. Craig Watkins goes into great detail about this in his book “Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema.” He is focusing on analyzing the relationship between urban black youth, media, and politics and commerce. Watkins uses analyses of filmmaker Spike Lee in his book in order to look at how the media has treated the representations of inner city ghetto life. He also points out that the black youth have been the unfortunate recipients of a political and social backlash, which diminishes their look, but at the same time the media is using them to promote products and movies. Watkins quotes, “While black youth are the prominent figure in the war on drugs and in prison population, they are equally prominent in film, music, television, sports, and advertising” (Watkins). Hip-hop music and culture have combined themselves and are now used as a commodity in our current society. Some feel that it impacts us in a negative way but it has caused hip-hop to be popular in everything aspect mentioned by Watkins.

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