[...]This objectification of African-American women parallels the portrayal of women in pornography as sex objects whose sexuality is available for men (McNall 1983). Exploiting Black women as breeders objectified them as less than human because only animals can be bred against their will. In contemporary pornography women are objectified through being portrayed as pieces of meat, as sexual animals awaiting conquest.Read that and then watch Tip Drill. You tell me what's going on. But then to confound the whole feminist position are "artists" like Li'l Kim, Foxxxy Brown, and Trina, who flout traditional norms and aggressively flounce their sexuality. This presents a tension to the feminist who, on one hand argues that it is empowering to show women who are "in charge" of their sexuality, but at the same time recognize that the images portrayed by Kim, Foxy, Trina, et al are essentially the same ones that are put forth by male artists. They're not regulating their sexuality by choosing chastity, they're "owning" it by being being promiscuous. (Man, that's why I miss MC Lyte and Lauryn Hill somethin' fierce! They had it to-gether! They had intelligent lyrics and they knew how to display sex appeal without showing all their goodies. Of course, it didn't hurt that they were fine.) Almost like female versions of Whodini talking about, "I'm a ho, you know I'm a ho/How do you know because I tell you so." Some might argue that at the end of the day, it's still white men in suits (read: record companies) controlling the way Black women are portrayed, but that argument basically takes agency away from the both the artists and the consumers. You know, people can complain about misogynistic songs and videos all they want, but until the artists and record companies feel it in the pocket, nothing's gonna change. I thought it was great that the women at Spelman College declined Nelly's charity drive there earlier this year. But you know what? That's not enough. That was a big, well-publicized event, but that's not the type of thing that will effect any lasting change. As just about everybody who has any thoughts on this will quickly tell you, we still buy those records and rush out to the floor when they come on at the club. If we're really serious about change, we'll make our dollars reflect our ostensible beliefs. Trust me on this one, record companies are all about that bottom line. (Not that bottom line) If you remember back to the late 80's/early 90's, there was a proliferation of 5 Percenter groups out. If you know anything about 5% teachings, you know that that's antithetical to anything most of the people in decision-making positions at major record labels believe. But what? But it was selling. Then came NWA and the Gangsta era, which ushered in the days of "authentic" multi-platinum rap albums (Hammer moved major units, but he didn't force a paradigm shift, partially because he wasn't regardes as being "real.") If we reeeallly wanna see something different, then we'll have to sacrifice; might have to pass up on buying some catchy tunes, or might have to sit down on a song, even though the beat is bumping. Might hafta decide that we're not gonna buy records by alleged pedophiles or support organizations that allow them to be nominated for major awards (he ain't hip-hop, but I simply can't pass that up. Somebody (who actually listens to Kells) could probably write thick, healthy paper (did somebody say a paper with a Sofa?) on misogyny in R. Kelly's work...any undergrads out there?) Might mean actually raising our tastes from the lowest common denominator. Might mean not-supporting broadcast radio (which we know is in the pocket of the big 5 record companies, anyway). The question is, are we gonna actually do anything, or are we gonna support misogynistic music and then turn around and bitch about it? Of course, not all hip-hop is misogynistic or presents Black women in a bad light. Tupac has a couple songs, Dear Mama and Keep Your Head Up, that are worth mentioning. Public Enemy dropped Revolutionary Generation (14 years ago?!). Black Star has Brown Skin Lady, which I love. But I think my favorite gynocentric hip-hop song is 4 Women by Talib Kweli. It's actually a remake of Four Women, by Nina Simone. What's remarkable about it is that in the last two verses, Kweli actually raps as the women in his natural voice. That's major. He doesn't play them as characters, separating the women from himself, he takes on their voice and tells their stories as if they're his own. Because really, they are. Men and women aren't opposites, we're complements. We can't advance by stepping on and away from our sisters and mothers. Let's ride out with Kweli (verses in parentheses are Kweli rapping as Peaches.)
A daughter come up in Georgia, ripe and ready to plant seeds, Left the plantation when she saw a sign even thought she can't read It came from God and when life get hard she always speak to him, She'd rather kill her babies than let the master get to 'em, She on the run up north to get across that Mason-Dixon In church she learned how to be patient and keep wishin', The promise of eternal life after death for those that God bless She swears the next baby she'll have will breathe a free breath and get milk from a free breast, And love beeing alive, otherwise they'll have to give up being themselves to survive, Being maids, cleaning ladies, maybe teachers or college graduates, nurses, housewives, prostitutes, and drug addicts Some will grow to be old women, some will die before they born, They'll be mothers, and lovers who inspire and make songs, (But me, my skin is brown and my manner is tough,) (Like the love I give my babies when the rainbow's enuff,) (I'll kill the first muthafucka that mess with me, I never bluff) (I ain't got time to lie, my life has been much too rough,) (Still running with barefeet, I ain't got nothin' but my soul,) (Freedom is the ultimate goal, life and death is small on the whole, in many ways) (I'm awfully bitter these days 'cuz the only parents God gave me, they were slaves,) (And it crippled me, I got the destiny of a casualty,) (But I live through my babies and I change my reality) (Maybe one day I'll ride back to Georgia on a train,) (Folks 'round there call me Peaches, I guess that's my name.)Maybe we should try to make sure we're as enthusiastic about praising the good as we are about condemning the negative.