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Sexism in American Hip-Hop Culture

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Message Janett Yates
In 1991, Dr. Dre, today a co-founder of the Beats brand and a businessman with assets of $ 770 million, and then a member of the odious group N.W.A., beat television presenter Di Barnes at a Hollywood party. This is how the incident described Rolling Stone magazine:

"He lifted her by the hair and" began to beat her head and right side of the body over and over again against the brick wall near the stairs, "while his bodyguard held the crowd with a pistol. After Dr. Dre tried unsuccessfully to throw her off the stairs, he began to beat her in the ribs and hands. She got out and ran to the women's restroom. Dr. Dre followed her, "again grabbed from behind the hair and began to beat in the back of the head."

Members of N.W.A. (except Ice Cube) supported Dre, saying that "the b*tch deserved it." A year later, Dre released the song "Bitches Ain't sh*t", mentioned above - it can be said on biographical material. In 2015, Dr. Dre produced a biopic about himself and the band Straight Outta Compton (Voice of the Streets at the Russian box office). The episode with Barnes is missing in the picture - like any mention of the then-rapper girl, Michelle. She explained it simply: "Why should I be there? I was just a quiet girlfriend who was beaten and told to sit and keep quiet. "


But rappers read not only about women. A significant part of this music is devoted to social issues. Kendrick Lamar received the Pulitzer Prize for "thrilling sketches that capture the complexity of modern African American life." Thanks to rap, black people got a voice. Tupac, Ice Cube, Kanye West - they all became icons of the time, expressors of the sensitivity of the modern black man. During the presidency of Barack Obama, Jay-Z and the same Lamar became guests of the White House - the symbolic significance of such a gesture can hardly be overestimated. Criticism of performers is hampered by the significance attributed to them in the media. In addition, in the era of Black Lives Matter criticism of black from the side of white is difficult - this is partly due to intersectionality.

"Intersectionality is a good thing, but it has been extrapolated too much. Initially, Kimberly Crenshaw (the creator of the framework) had in mind that the oppression of black women, white women and black men is different, because black women intersect two types of discrimination. That is all she had in mind. Intersectionality today began to consider any type of oppression as analogous to another - this is very bad, because we forget the specifics of each of them, "said Lana Uzarashvili.

How ambiguous this system is, Eminem felt on himself at the turn of the 1990s - 2000s. His biography is the rapper gold standard. He grew up without a father in poverty, ran into drugs early, dropped out of school, felt like a kind of unwanted child in America, and in rap broadcast the same sexism and homophobia that he heard in the songs of black artists.

However, Eminem was white - and soon became the "scapegoat for the media," as he called himself in the song "Renegade." All criticism that society was in no hurry to allow for black performers sounded to him. Even when in a duet with Dr. Dre he talked about how his partner "piled on Di Barnes," critics of someone else's morality were still aiming at a white upstart.


In many ways, but not only because of the race of performers, society is ready to turn a blind eye to sexism. There are other factors. First of all, the stigmatized position of black women. To escape from the veil of indifference, the victim herself must be famous - like, for example, Rihanna, beaten up by her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown. Or like Beyonce, who turned a family scandal with cheating on her husband, Jay-Z, into a media story and the popular music album Lemonade.

In addition, it is simply a huge industry with a derived formula for success. Why repair something that brings money?

Today, with the advent of feminists in rap, male performers who call themselves "conscious rappers," the debate about the acceptability of sexism in hip-hop is expanding. Leading American publications, from New Yorker to Hollywood Reporter, write about this issue. And although today Kendrick Lamar receives Pulitzer, it is possible that tomorrow he is told to be more modest.

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Janett is a writer for a RusVPN blog. She also contributes articles to a variety of tech-related websites.
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Sexism in American Hip-Hop Culture