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The Problem of Misogyny in Rap Music

Graphic designed by Blossom Onunekwu.

Graphic designed by Blossom Onunekwu.

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As of 2018, rap and hip-hop is the most consumed music genre in the United States, and a substantial portion of that consumption lies in the youth population, according to Business Insider.

The music is often played at parties, fraternity houses and gyms. Streamed from smartphones and pick-up trucks, this music has been a defining hallmark of this current college-aged generation.

With brilliant lyricists revealing a rich history, this chart-topping genre has an undeniable influence on our youth. However, it’s no secret that rap music often idolizes violence and blunt materialism.

This theme is often carried over by many musicians to define women as material objects to be used, displayed and essentially owned. To give these lyrics a “pass” under the guise of “it’s just music” is no different than the saying, “boys will be boys.” It’s important to note that not all songs of this genre meet the criteria highlighted in this article.

Nevertheless, it is common knowledge among rap/hip-hop listeners which songs and artists use lyrics degrading women. Another popular hip-hop style, referred to as trap music, can be likened to a sexist, simplistic and materialistic version of psychedelic rock.

Its heavy base can be intoxicating and borderline hypnotic, a powerful combination on a growing, impressionable, hypersexualized, alcohol-influenced brain at a party. This combination of heavy rap/trap music can be likened to misogynistic brainwashing.

The typical response to the established misogyny in the genre points to the recent trend of female rappers emerging in the business. Still, the lyrical themes of objectifying women have not changed with the rise of female rappers in mainstream rap.  

While some counter the degradation of women with messages of their own gender power, many female rappers such as Nicki Minaj and Cardi-B hyper-sexualize their brand to appeal to the established norm of the genre. It does not address the fundamental problem of misogyny. It is merely a socially palatable response to the overt sexism somehow still accepted today.

It’s a disheartening fact that every sexual predator will not be caught or brought to justice. It is just not possible; however, this generation can change the culture that has allowed such atrocities to stay behind closed doors.

The lyrics found in these songs, referring to women in a degrading way, are not to blame for sexual assault. That responsibility falls on the consumer, yet the degrading rap music itself is an objective issue that must be addressed culturally.

If justice does not reach all equally, at the very least, we can critically approach our younger generation’s culture and recognize its faults. We must hold the music we consume to a value judgment and ask if these values represent those of our own. It is a simple concept.

Of all music genres, the emphasis of sexism in rap/hip-hop music is the most blatant of all mainstream music today.  Our youth listen to it, and it shapes their worldview. Whether intentional or not, what we consume is a defining characteristic of who we are in society.

How do we want to be defined? Furthermore, are these the values we want to teach our sons and daughters? If your personal values conflict with the values of the music you consume, the moral responsibility falls upon you to raise those expectations.

 

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The Problem of Misogyny in Rap Music