Yesterday my race, gender and the media class discussed how women are portrayed in songs, specifically rap and hip hop.
I always find this conversation topic interesting because I’m on the other side of the argument. I was never offended by the lyrics any artist created. I see it as a form of art and storytelling. It’s a form of expression through words, like a poet.
I discovered rap somewhere between 5th and 6th grade. My parents had only listened to their generation of music when I was younger, never turning on the radio.
As a child I could sing Ted Nugent, The Grateful Dead, ACDC, Led Zeppelin, WallFlowers, Candlebox and Dave Matthew songs.
I remember watching the MTV music awards and watching a new artist perform The Real Slim Shady and Way I Am with hundreds of look-a-likes walking in while this guy with bleached hair rapped. My man-crush-monday quickly developed.
I bought every album after that, watched every interview and learned every song.
The professor showed the music video for “Love The Way You Lie” featuring Eminem and Rhianna. He then asked if this was appropriate behavior and were these the images we wanted to represent our culture.
“I never realized the last line of that lyric was tie you to the bed light this house on fire, that’s horrible”
“This shouldn’t be allowed, what if a child saw this and thought this was normal?”
“I grew up loving rap but as I got older I realized how abusive the words were and don’t understand why rappers can’t write positive lyrics.”
These were among the few first responses to the music video. I gave my opinion and added what about what’s written in books, movies or TV shows? You can turn on criminal minds any ION television show and Law and Order and see rape, domestic violence and murder. Those are actors and so are these.
The professor then showed a slide only of the lyrics and asked now what?
Now I know we said things, did things
That we didn’t mean and we fall back into the same patterns
Same routine, but your temper’s just as bad, as mine is
You’re the same as me, but when it comes to love, you’re just as blinded
Baby please come back, it wasn’t you,
Baby it was me, maybe our relationship isn’t as crazy as it seems
Maybe that’s what happens When a tornado meets a volcano
All I know is I love you too much, to walk away now
I find the notion of harmful to children disturbing. Do children not have parents anymore? Don’t allow them to have access to every part of the Internet and television if you don’t want them to be exposed to certain materials. You can do that as a parent, you know that, right?
Asking rappers to change their lyrics to be more PC is also a bit strange to me. All people don’t live in a perfect pristine box their entire childhood. Eminem couldn’t rap about his happy childhood because he didn’t have one.
Did anyone restrict Picasso’s brush or Beethoven’s piano keys? You can’t tell an artist how to be an artist.
Is it hypocritical to have taste for hip hop and still think women should be treated equally and stop being objectified in the media? No.
If I had to boycott every aspect of art and creative expression (TV shows, plays, books, comedy routines, music etc.) I wouldn’t be able to listen, watch or read anything. I would have to delete history, sporting events and every medium that doesn’t have a fair representation of women. I would have to become a bitter hermit.
It’s also important to remember rap/ hip hop aren’t the only artists who talk about women. Country artists twang about beer, women and trucks. The classic rock band Warrant who sang Cherry Pie compares women to a piece of food. Each time they swing to the left or right they’re talking about having sex.
I’d have to shut my eyes each time an advertisement played between my TV shows as well.
I’m not anti-women. I do think women’s representation in the media should and could change as well in the professional outlets. I know plenty of hard-working women and aspire to be one. I just feel like you can’t tag music, specifically rap, as what is wrong in today’s society.