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February 28, 2009

Who is Sara Baartman? by Dede Hunt

February 27, 2009

Midterm Exam Study Sheet

Midterm Exam Study Sheet
Key Terms
Hip hop generation Female badman/badwoman Hip hop
Hip hop feminism Hip hop feminist praxis Hip hop activism
Agency Intersectionality Archetypes of Black Womanhood
Diasporic Sex Tourism Elements of hip hop Authenticity Debates
Study Questions
1. What are the different ways that scholars have described the defining social, economic, political, and cultural characteristics of the hip hop generation? What are the benefits and drawbacks of the way this concept has been discussed?

2. What is hip hop activism? How have hip hop activists confronted structural inequalities that face many members of the hip hop generation? What are some of the inherent contradictions that hip hop activists face as they go about their political work?

3. Scholars like Tricia Rose, Imani Perry, and Gwendolyn Pough argue that hip hop has its origins in Black American art, culture, and politics. Identify three distinctive points that each author makes to support this argument.

4. What is hip hop feminism? How have hip hop feminist practitioners and social critics transformed women of the hip hop generation into subjects of hip hop culture, rather than objects to be commodified and exploited to sell merchandise and to boost the legitimacy and authenticity of hip hop artists?

5. Why is it important to situate hip hop feminism in the larger historical trajectory of Black and women of color feminism? What are the consequences for failing to make these important historical-political connections?

6. Denean Sharpley-Whiting argues that hip hop is now as much about images as it is about beats and rhymes. Specifically, she argues that the commercialization of hip hop has caused produced “perversions of desirablity” that reproduces the attitude that black women can not be raped. What specific examples/evidence does she give to support this claim?

7. How does the circulation of degrading images of black femininity and black masculinity impact the everyday lives of young people of the hip hop generation?

Hip Hop Icons who May Appear on Midterm Exam
Snoop Dogg, NWA, Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, Soulja Boy, Lauryn Hill, Boss, Salt and Peppa, Nelly, Sara Baartman, R Kelly, Medusa, T-Love, Boss, Eve, Russell Simmons, DJ Symphony

February 25, 2009

Let's get away...

This question is difficult to tackle because it is easy to simply say yes the women are guilty because they allow themselves to be portrayed in these videos and those in the industry should not be the only ones to blame but that is also the answer that makes the perspective so complex. So before I can honestly take on the perspective I need details; who is in the video, who is the artist and where does the credibility lie? The reason I ask this is because there are currently women in the business who are models and they’re looking for a big break or simply to be successful.

So let’s say that T.I. is looking for models for his video Let’s Get Away it is obvious that there are plenty of woman that are going to attend the casting and I would say they could be placed into two categories.

Let’s get away:
[Chorus (T.I.)]
[Jazze Pha] Hey, let's get away and get a room on the other side of town
Hey shawty, I was thinking of you
(Was you thinkin' of me, ay, ay...)
[Girl] Hey, let's get a room, shawty we can freak somethin' if you down
(Whachu would do?)
Hey daddy, I was thinking of you

I'm chilllin' with Brazilian women, heavy accents
They black friends translatin', got'em all ass naked, adjacent
Have relations wit'em many places
Leavin' semen in they British faces

Category one would include woman who are fans of T.I. but they are there as professional models and category two would include fans of T.I. but woman who are willing to do whatever it is to be front and center and possibly also gain T.I.’s attention. I understand that it may not be right to categorize these woman but these categories do exist and there maybe more than just these two.

We now take a look at the artist…T.I. what kind of reputation does he have in the hip hop community? Has he ever expressed his thoughts and feelings on demeaning women in hip hop? What is the content of his lyrics?

T.I. is a very well known artist in the hip hop community and he is a platinum selling artist. What are his thoughts and feelings on the portrayal of women in hip hop well according to a quote in Tricia Rose’s book Hip Hop wars T.I. has made it clear that one needs to focus on other important issues in America and that one cant start with hip hop and move their way up. T.I.’s answer is exactly the same answer that one tends to hear and is a great way for an artist to make it seem like he cares but he deflects the attention of future questions because he has already admitted that there’s a problem. What is the content of his lyrics…

February 24, 2009

Power in Ownership vs Recognition of Female Agency

i don't think that it's fair to point fingers at individual women and blame them for patriarchy, or sexism, or the problems of a larger society. i do believe that there is power in ownership of sexuality and a woman's body. or that there can and should be. but i still don't believe that women claiming agency in this space is as powerful as it could be if there was a larger recognition and respect for the choices women are making with their bodies.

the readings by tricia rose we discussed today in class, and the conversation we had last thursday on the hottentot venus outline the complex nature that a discussion on sex work, or the women in these videos entails. the marginalization of black women is linked directly to racism within our society. and the voice of black women even within the black community has been largely ignored due to a focus on "more important issues." freedom from slavery, the right to vote, civil rights, ect. the subjugation of black women is stratified, and most likely not realized in its entirety outside of academia. the quote that rose takes from 50 cent when he comments on the imus and oprah thing taking away from the fact that the country is at war in "there are bitches and hoes" is a perfect example of the silencing of women in order to focus on a more important issue. no, the issue of marginalization of black women by men, both black and white is not talked about. does this mean that there is a possibility for agency in these videos? i don't know. would i go as far as to point fingers at individuals and blame them for anything? no. but would i be a part of these videos, or would i encourage anyone i know to be a part of a corrupt system of capitalizing on female bodies in pop culture? hell no. we are not at a place where there is enough knowledge about, or respect for the individual choices women make about their sexuality.

Desdamona Interview

This clip is old -- but it's interesting anyway, and Desdamona has been mentioned in class several times. It's Desdamona talking about Intermedia Arts and talks a bit about why she did the whole B-Girl Be thing.

Bitches and Hos Are Not New Constructs

While a number of video vixens will state that they work willingly, it is inappropriate, shallow and misogynistic to blame ‘bitches’ and ‘hos’ in music videos for the prevalence of the corresponding stereotypes within hip hop culture. On a base level, it makes a certain amount of sense that if women refused to participate, there would be no depiction. In reality, however, women participate in the manufacturing of bitches and hos imagery for many reasons, none of which are my intent to examine here.

What I do think is interesting however, is how the labels have come to be discursively constructed within hip hop visual culture. Tricia Rose writes, “..the process of locating, labeling, partying with, and then discarding black women is part of the performance that enhances gansta- and pimp-style rappers’ status and, thus, their income” (182). Rose is touching on the fact that certain rappers need women in their videos to enhance the image that they are projecting—and that the action verbs in this equation are actually on the side of the production. Furthermore, the locating, labeling, partying with, and then discarding of black women is a tradition rooted within racist culture – Patricia Hill Collins wrote about how black women were seen as sexually available and “unrapeable,” thus, always already available to anyone for any purpose. The deployment of bitches and hos in rap is a language and visual hybrid that builds on the historical trajectory of black womens' specific oppression.

There is another historical link to be made as well, in that the use of black womens' bodies has never been confined to a certain type of body. Basically, as Rose writes, “The line between women who “deserve” to be called these names and those who do not does not exist” (178). The building blocks and the deployment of the term apply to all black women, regardless of whether they embrace a “politics of respectability” or not.

Critical Analysis #2

GWSS 3390/Sexual Politics of the Hip Hop Generation
Prof. Zenzele Isoke
Critical Analysis #2
Due Date: February 26, 2009

Directions: Use at least two of the assigned readings from 2/12 – 2/26 to prepare a 2-3 page response to the writing prompt below. Feel free to incorporate commentary and testimonials from the films Nobody Knows My Name and Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes in your paper. Though not required, you should consider incorporating lyrical content by female hip-hop practitioners in your paper. Refer to the “General Guidelines” sheet for more specific directions about the expected format.

Writing Prompt:
Hip hop feminist cultural critics including Gwendolyn Pough, Imani Perry, and Patricia Hill Collins have taken care to point out how deeply misogynist portrayals of black womanhood in hip hop have their roots in the systematic exploitation of black women’s sexuality during slavery. How have female hip hop artists and cultural practitioners subverted, or resisted, the wide spread objectification and dehumanization of women in hip hop culture?

Pointing the finger at "bitches and hos"

Allright, so here's my take on all of this. The fact that women are upset with sexism and the "degrading" images in hip hop videos puzzles me. I'm not trying to play the devil's advocate with all of this, but I find it hard to condemn these women and blame them for carrying on these images and ideas about women's bodies and sexuality.

These video "hos" or whatever you want to call them are choosing to do these things in videos. Maybe some of them are vulgar and inappropriate to some of us, but do you think that they go home at the end of the day and think, "Wow, I was seriously degraded and oppressed as a woman?" The answer is no, and probably a Hell No. They go home and think, "bitch got paid! I'm going to the bank." Maybe they are naive to the fact that they are complicating the issue of human and female sexuality for others, but I challenge the women that are upset about this to reflect on their own lives. How many of these same women can point the finger at these women and have a clear conscious? What songs/artists/movies/clothes do they own that contradict this? How many of them go out to the club or bar and bust a move with their "girls" to the music. The industry is cyclical. Just because you don't go purchase the album directly, going to the club and dancing to the music is the same thing as putting money directly into their pockets. The airtime they get reflects how popular they are and the residual they get from it. And what's on their ipods? I'm sure you can go through anyone's song library and find one or more artists who have used sexuality in one form or another to sell their albums.

Besides this fact, its not only the women. Men do the very same thing, and it is across all genres of music/ movies and color lines. Why do you think 50 Cent doesn't wear shirts in his videos? Why is Faith Hill rolling around naked in a bed? Why is J-Lo taking her shirt off and only wearing her underwear? Its because thats what people want to see. Fight, flight, and fuck, right? I think you can argue this all you want, but the fact is that it is within our inherent beings to have feelings of sexuality etc. We can't help being attracted or stimulated by images of sexuality. How many of us have googled at Brad Pitt's body in Troy? Or Tyrese? Or envied Christina Aguilera's body? I'm not saying everyone is jealous of artists in the industry, but we are all self critical. We all look back at ourselves and make comparisons. Its what we do.

Well that's enough ranting from me for now....

Pointing Fingers

I basically agree with what classmates are saying about pointing fingers. I don't think it is fair to just point fingers at the women in these videos, even if they "choose" to be in them. After reading the chapters by Tricia Rose for today's class, it makes more sense for me. So many times I wrote "I agree", and "yes" next to things that she said in her book.

We can't blame the women for being sexually objectified or for living in a society and culture that says that it is okay to treat women this way. What we do need to do, however, is educate people about how their participation in music videos, tv shows, movies, etc which reek of sexism and objectification of women is bad for ALL women. When we talk about agency, the phrase "support the soldier, not the war" comes to mind. We can support the women who may choose to be in these videos or in the sex industry, but we don't support necessarily support these industries because they do continue to perpetuate sexism and sexist ideas about women and their sexuality.

Enough with the blaming or pointing at the ‘other’

This statement/question blows my mind. As if we can point our finger at those little birds and say fly away...fly away, free yourself from the cage that holds you in? Does a woman have a choice whether or not she wants to be in a hip hop video that objectifies her? I guess one could say yes but then again does she really? To point a finger at or blame the victim is beyond me. I choose the word victim because I truly believe that is the case. The thing is victimization started to happen years and years ago for that individual. And victimization for women has been decades and centuries in the making.

The finger pointing is many. I do not think there are enough fingers to do the correct amount of pointing. I think the first pointing of the finger needs to go at society at large. Our society accepts and expects women to be sexually exploited. Because of that, women’s roles in media are limited to either being an objected of desire or a sexy backdrop. The next finger pointing needs to be directed at the male rappers and big whigs in media and record companies. Responsibility needs to be point on the individual with the privilege and power. Enough with the blaming or pointing at the ‘other’. By doing so we forget to mark those who created and profit offthe ‘other’. Lastly I think the finger should be pointed at the consumer. It is so easy for us as academic beings to theorize and criticize society and its heteronormative, misogynistic, classist and racist ways but what about how we support and consume the very product that reproduces these injustices and inequalities. We, as consumers, need to take a good look at what we support and why? It is easy for us to sit in a classroom and be appalled by these videos and lyrics—it is safe to do so but how do we interact with these things on a daily basis. Do we accept it, just as society wants us to? Or do we go a different route?

Many say that lyrics about ‘bitches and hos’ exist because bitches and hos exist. It is real life and therefore needs to be depicted as such in hip-hop. Well I say to that, starvation exists but I do not accept it, rape happens everyday but I do not condone it and glorify it. Murders, war, poverty, violence, hatred occur everyday but I do not speak about it in a way that is compliant with it and I for sure as hell do not try to maintain it or make a profit from it. I take a stand against it.

Don't point fingers at the women being degraded.

I do not think that fingers should be pointed at the women who are BEING objectified. Who is to say that these women are really there voluntarily, anyway? Is being a "video ho" worse than being a prostitute? Some women are not given any other options for making money in the "street" life, as Tricia Rose discusses (174).

The name calling of "bitches and hos" is completely unnecessary and sexist. The terms are used as degrading names for women and names to take away masculinity from men. Women would not dress up provocatively if the rappers did not sing about sex and bitches and hos. Rappers have the power to stop perpetuating this racism and sexism by changing their messages from negative to positive. Like Rose writes, they should be rapping about things like Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq.

The music industry elites are even more in control and if we are pointing a finger at anyone, we should be pointing it at them. All they care about is profit; they have learned that sexism sells, so they will keep selling the songs about "bitches and hos." They do not care about the effects these images and messages have on younger women and girls, who feel that they have to emulate the "bitches and hos," but forcefully deny the label. If the women who let themselves be objectified did not learn this act from somewhere, then where did it come from? Pointing a finger at the women will just perpetuate the sexism. Rappers do not have the right to exploit women just because rappers think the women are bitches and hos. As Rose writes, rappers "choose to represent a sexist perspective about reality the no longer have" (182). Maybe if they choose other represntations of women and reality, the music industry elites will be forced to market something besides bitches and hos.

Enough with the name calling

This is such a grey area when people start to point the finger and label these women. There are so many different points of views and so many different circumstances. But even on top of that should it really be a reasonable excuse to label women “bitches and hos” if someone believes them to be? Is there any one definition of what it means to be a bitch or a ho?

Without going into either of these questions I’m going to look at the grey areas. I think what people have to look at is choice. How much choice did the women in these videos have- are they in desperate need of money and this seemed like a quick and easy way to get it, are these women in it for their 15 minutes of fame, or do these women believe it will lead/turn into a career.

If one needed to point the finger of blame I do not believe it should be at the women, the rappers are the ones deciding how to direct these women, how the videos are shot, as well as the content as a whole. Again, like someone said in class or a movie we saw in class (I apologize, I don’t remember) what makes these images particularly awful is that this is the only image we really see within these films. I am not trying to say that these images are great only in moderation, but I think that they would be a lot less damaging if there was a much more well rounded perspective/image of black women within the videos.

I believe this will probably be a question that is insolvable and there will never be a right answer. I think that it’s important to not get to wrapped up in the blame game on issues like these because it takes away from the argument, and too much time is spent trying to label rather than getting anything done.

February 19, 2009

some thoughts

i was just thinking about our conversation today in class. no offense, the subject of agency and sexuality came up and it is an issue that i struggle with from a feminist perspective.

i do believe that there is agency in a woman making money off of her body, and that there can be a consciousness within the sex industry.

but i don't believe that there is any agency in swiping a credit card through a woman's ass. that is the most ridiculously degrading shit i have ever suffered through. well, not the most, but seriously gross and offensive, to all women.

i don't think that it's possible to claim agency in a space that does not recognize it. it is possible for women to take ownership of their own bodies, and to choose when and how to use it for whatever money making endeavors they see fit. but can you take that position when you are dealing with a greater society that does not realize the power in that? i can claim that i hear the voice of god, but if no one believes a word i say and i don't end up a prophet what the hell good does that do me?

it is only a shift in the social framework surrounding sex work that will allow for women to claim that agency. it will take a recognition of sex work as work, and protective measures actually given to women in that industry. unions, respectful citizens, and a corrupt-free police system for starters. but that is the struggle in women's rights. we don't have these things looking out for women, and we especially don't have these things looking out for women of color.

this doesn't really pertain to the women in the video so much as sex work, but sex work is something i don't have clear thoughts on and i wanted to throw it out there. my apologies if it doesn't make a lot of sense.

Spoken Word performance

Just wanted to let everybody know about a spoken word event at Bryant Lake Bowl on Saturday, February 28, at 6:00 PM. Poetic Assassins will be there with some other music/spoken word groups. Tics are 10 dollars and can be purchased at www.bryantlakebowl.com.

Hope Community Women's History Month Events

Hope Community is pleased to invite you to a series of Woman’s History Month events this March. We are working with special guests from all over the Twin Cities to bring you a wide range of topics related to both the female and male experience. Below is a list and short description of each event and attached is the flier. Feel free to distribute to any and all you think would be interested! Hope to see you there! Be sure to click on the link below to view full schedule.

Woman’s History Events at Hope Community 2009!

Women & Hip-Hop

Sunday, March 1, 2009 1-3pm

Guest: Sherine Crooms

Film: Beyond Beats & Rhymes

Explore gender roles in hip-hop and rap music and discuss sexism, violence and homophobia in today’s hip-hop culture.

Killing Us Softly

Friday, March 6, 2009 6-8pm

Guest: Rose Brewer

Film: Killing Us Softly

Understand the role the media plays in shaping women’s and society’s beauty standards, for better or worse.

Finding Our Strength

Sunday, March 8, 2009 1-3pm

Guest: Alena Chaps

In honor of International Women’s Day, discuss women’s journey for strength through the fight for women’s rights as human rights.

Take It Like A Man

Saturday, March 14, 2009 1-3pm Guest: Ron Bell & Micah Peterson

Film: Tough Guise

What does society tell us a real man is? How do violent images and expectations of men and boys affect our communities?

The Green M&M


Thursday, March 19 2009 6-8pm

Guest: Aurora Center

A reality based examination of myths and messages about sex, power, and growing up male and female.

Women’s Health

Saturday, March 21, 2009 1-3pm

Guest: Atum Azzihir & Princess Poole

Take control of you and your family’s health. Discuss ways to improve your health and where to get free or

reduced health care.

Celebrating Our Voices!

Thursday, March 26, 2009 6-8pm

Performance by: Articulating Our Voices Now

Join us as we celebrate the voices of young women in our community through dance, poetry, spoken word and song!

There Really Are Bitches and Ho's

Some argue that women who allow themselves to be sexually objectified by men really ARE bitches and hos. Instead of pointing the finger at predominantly male hip-hop artists, producers, and music industry elites, the finger should be pointed at the individual women themselves. Do you agree such a perspective? Why or why not?

February 17, 2009

That's What She Said

Hey everyone, I just wanted to plug my upcoming show again.

Desdamona (who is an amazing female MC from Minnesota), Electronica musician Caly McMorrow and poets Jenn Sparks, Cynthia French, Inky, and myself will all perform. All of the show's proceeds benefit the poets attending the Women of the World Individual Poetry Slam. There will be an awesome silent auction during the performances as well.

DATE: Wednesday, February 25, 2009
TIME: Doors at 7:00pm
Show starts at around 7:30ish and will run to around 11:00
LOCATION: The Local Irish Pub (in the Hollow)
931 Nicollet Mall
PRICE: 7$ or 5$ with a student ID

Here is the facebook page if you would like to invite people to come or RSVP (or add me as a friend!)

If you are a swing vote and would like to check out Desdamona's work, visit her myspace:

Here is more information on the WOW Poetry Slam:
or if you are interested in the spoken word community/performances of the twin cities, ask me!

February 16, 2009


February 13, 2009

"I See the Same Ho"

The additional article by Denean Sharpely-Whiting has been posted on Webvista. Happy reading.
Prof. Isoke

February 12, 2009

Blog #2

I believe that it is necessary to draw these lines between "hip hop feminist" and a "hip hop fan." First, because it can be empowering for a woman. Being able to appreciate and critique your culture is important for societal growth. If no one identified as a hip hop feminist and no woman (or man) ever spoke out against gender violence and discrimination, nothing would change. I think my favorite quote of Aisha Durham was, “Representations are not only a part of our reality, but shape the very way we talk about and make sense of reality.? I feel like the goal of hip-hop feminism is to change from within the popular culture. By recognizing the social and political flaws rooted in hip hop and naming your cause and yourself a hip hop feminist, one can teach by example.

Event Happening Friday the 13th

Hey all, this event does not pertain quite to the topic of our class, but does involve activism.
This Friday the 13th,
MPIRG will be hosting an event called the Honduran Workers Tour, including
two workers from a Russell clothing factory in Honduras that was recently
shut down. Russell closed the factory because the employees tried to form a
union, and this is not only illegal, but it is also a violation of the
University of Minnesota’s code of conduct signed with Russell. The two
Honduran workers and the International Campaign Coordinator for the
Designated Suppliers Program will be speaking to students about these labor
practices and what can be done to help the factory employees. The event
will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in room 100 of the Bell Museum of Natural
History. Bring your Friends!

It will be an awesome event and you can learn more about what groups like MPIRG and United Students Against Sweatshops are doing. Free Peace Coffee to enjoy at the event :).

A Need To Draw The Line

This is a difficult question to answer. I would like to say that it is not
necessary to draw any lines. I would like to be able to say that I, as a
female member of the hip hop generation, could call myself a hip hop
feminist. However, while I do at times feel immersed in the culture,
whether it be through the music I listen to, the clothes I wear, the way I
talk - I have never considered hip hop my way of life - I have never been
completely immersed in hip hop in that way.

I have listened to hip hop
music countless numbers of times and felt conflicted about what I was
listening to, but aside from a casual conversation here and there, I have
never been actively involved in discussing my issues with what was said.
Pough's point, however, is not complete.

After watching the movie in class today it became more clear to me what it
truly meant to be a hip hop feminist. It is all about being active. It's
more than just being a consumer - which, the more on more I think about it,
has been my primary involvement in respect to the culture of hip hop. I
have consumed it but never furthered its advancement personally. I have not
contributed to its cause. Am I any less part of the movement? No, I would
still very much call myself a part of the hip hop movement - certainly a
part of the hip hop generation. I do not think the movement would be as
powerful if it was not for its consumers and those of us who appreciate
what hip hop has to offer and it embrace in our lives. But can I call
myself a hip hop feminist because I am a female who got upset when Eminem
called his mom a whore? No. And Pough is correct to point that out.
However, she fails to clarify what it means to be immersed in hip hop
culture. The women in the film are a perfect example. All of them were
active members of the hip hop community. They lived hip hop everyday of
their lives - it truly was their way of life - and, for many of the women,
like T-Love, all they knew. It could not even escape them.

Michael Jeffries writes, "A hip-hop feminist is someone who locates herself
historically as a member of the hip-hop generation, and lays claim to
knowledge of hip-hop as a cultural phenomenon." He goes on to say that,
"This claim to knowledge includes familiarity with hip-hop history and
practice, and continued investment in contemporary hip-hop causes and
communities." I think this is where Pough's definition lacks - she fails to
include the need for action. That is where the line truly needs to be
drawn. I have long been a static member of the hip hop movement and lacked
a significant amount of knowledge about the history and practice of hip
hop. The line needs to be drawn so that it does not take away from those
that are the experts - those that are truly hip hop feminists.

Mary L.

Time to draw the line...

I'm the first person among a group of people who would be resistant in allowing people to have the advantage on knowing how I define myself. While my resistance does not lie in feeling ashamed of who I am or where I come from but it comes from the fact that my entire like has consisted of being labeled. But at the same time I feel the need to almost contradict myself because I know that by not being clear and upfront and providing a definition of exactly who I am is allwoing someone else to define me...

A hip hop feminist must not feel obligated to define who they are but the obligation may come in presenting exactly what a hip hop feminist supports such as "a progressive politic that aims not only to eradicate sexist lyrics and images, but also to address the ways these representations work in concert with exploitative systems to thwart self-determination." (Durham 305) These labels and definitions become important when the mainstream culture begins to reproduce an image that does not define the "real" culture.

From Diane White on Hip Hop Feminism

I think hip hop feminist artists walk a fine line between defending their bodies and space while not attempting to discredit their male counterparts that use derogatory lyrics in their rap. While they aren’t encouraging this behavior, I think many are still careful not to “betray their race.?

They lend partial support for these artists by seeing their need to make a living in producing what sells. I think their race obligation is a huge factor in blurring this line as well as an admiration for good rhythms, beats and more beneficial lyrics. Rather than overtly putting sexist and misogynistic rap down like the mainstream, I believe hip hop feminists/artists strive to find a creative and innovative way to respond. This has occurred through female MCs, a reclaiming of lyrics and scholarship on the subject. When I think of Nelly and the Spellman College controversy, I don’t think of it as a success story but rather a disappointment to both parties involved. Nelly didn’t show and the women protesting his lyrics weren’t heard or responded to by him. I think a more free-flowing platform for discourse needs to take place in situations such as these; looking at the way history, society and politics influences sexist lyrics rather than just blaming the artist him or herself. -Diane White

Sister Souljah

We've read a little bit, or at least a couple of passing mentions about Sister Souljah in some of the readings. I don't know if anyone else remembers it, but I do remember a certified media storm surrounding Sister Souljah when I was young. It was right around the time of the Los Angeles riots in 1992.

Anyways, here's a bit about it on wikipedia as apparently they named a certain kind of political move after it: Sister Souljah moment

Video embedding is disabled for this, but here are some links:
Sister Souljah - The Final Solution; Slavery's Back in Effect
Sister Souljah - The Hate That Hate Produced

I feel likes it's been a long time since there was this particular brand of angry political rap music.

Definitions of Hip Hop Feminists

I think it is very important to draw lines of definition, it’s like Michael Jeffries says in Re:Definitions, “We name ourselves because it is empowering and because it allows us to choose the concepts that explain our mission.? I think first and fore most it is important that movements like this must label itself to distinguish themselves from other groups and movements. Without a label it is just a collective of people who share a similar outlook on life.

I think it can be dangerous for people to start putting very strict rules on who is allowed to label themselves as a hip hop feminist and who is not allowed. I think when people put these types of guidelines into such movements it discourages people from labeling themselves as such because no one thinks that they can fit into the outline of what is expected.

But with somewhat loose interpretations I think that people will be more likely to embrace it and the causes it supports. Again, like Jeffries about said, to have a name is also empowering to those within the movement. To have this title, this distinct community brings people together more so if it’s just a few people who share the same opinions, which is no more different than just a couple friends hanging out.

So yes, I think it is important to make a distinction but not to the point where people feel discouraged to participate with in that community of people.

The Stakes of Defining Hip Hop Feminism in a Commercial Hip Hop Culture

Drawing experiential lines is always essential, to a certain degree, when engaging in any sort of identity politics. The notion of “the personal is political? never applied only to feminism – it applied and continues to apply whenever specific issues in the lives of groups of identifiable people are caused by the dynamics of power. To clearly articulate the group that is being impacted negatively by such dynamics is the first step to activism and change (you can't attack a problem with no name, no locus, and/or no impact). Furthermore, identity politics always exclude someone – and the stakes are much higher for some.

Thus it has always been important for feminists to identify their standpoint. I would argue that it is especially crucial for hip hop feminists to identify their standpoint in explicit terms. Our class readings have frequently located the birthplace and cultural home of hip hop in urban communities of color. Michael Eric Dyson writes, “As it evolved, rap began to describe and analyze the social, economic, and political factors that led to its emergence and development: drug addiction, police brutality, teen pregnancy, and various forms of material deprivation? (The Culture of Hip-Hop, 61). Of the four elements of hip hop, rapping has become enormously popular. This is now a massive business on an international scale.

As such, the stakes have changed significantly. As debates rage about the depictions presented in various forms of popular rap, drawing lines as Pough has done becomes more and more vital. To incorporate the cultural aspect of hip hop feminism is vital because it brings the form off MTV and into the environment it purports, even in its most mainstream manifestations, to represent. In order to “keep it real,? lines must be drawn to articulate exactly what reality is being referenced.

The nature of the representations in commercial hip hop is highly contestable – as Tricia Rose writes, “If black ghetto street life were really being represented, we'd hear far more rhymes about homelessness and the terrible intergenerational effects of drug addiction. There would be much more urban contemporary radio play of songs about fear and loss, and real talk about incarceration? (Just Keeping It Real, 139). In short, what is at stake by not presenting a definition and drawing lines is the subordination of lived experience to constructed commercial realities.

It is important for hip hop feminists to draw distinctions in the face of the selective and politically convenient dissection and dissemination of hip hop culture. Aisha Durham writes, “It is our location within hip-hop culture, our identification with the hip-hop generation and black feminism that has the potential to produce new understandings of our social reality? (Using [Living Hip-Hop] Feminism, 309). Drawing lines to demarcate where a perspective is emanating from is vital, especially in the face of homogenizing depictions in global commercial culture.

February 11, 2009

Hip Hop Feminism in a State of Flux

If someone is involved in hip hop and wants to be part of hip hop activism and the hip hop culture as it relates to both women and men, he or she can justifiably claim to be a hip hop feminist. People who are passionate about improving the situations of the hip hop communities can call themselves hip hop feminists. Those who perpetuate racism and sexism do not have the right to claim hip hop feminism. Male rappers, like Nelly, who actively degrade women of color through their lyrics and music videos, cannot claim to be hip hop feminists in any way. I agree with Pough; it is more than just living the hip hop life, but being involved in the hip hop life and culture and what is happening in one’s community. Other more privileged men and women who only seek to take away agency from true hip hop feminists cannot be hip hop feminists either. Such people are encouraged to be allies, but cannot take the voice away from the marginalized who have finally found a space to speak in as hip hop feminists. However, as Kimala Price writes, “the term ‘hip-hop feminist’ is in a state of flux? (391), it is continually changing and evolving to encompass other definitions. At some point in the future, we may need to erase and “re-draw? the lines that we are currently drawing to define who can and who cannot be a hip hop feminist.

February 10, 2009

Critical Analysis 1 Due on Thursday

This is a friendly reminder that your first critical analysis paper is due this Thursday (2/12)

Hip Hop Feminists as Cultural Workers

Hip hop feminists use alternative sources of knowledge as power

Poetry, Performance, Role-play, Music, Visual Art
Uses women’s voices, stories, personal experience and testimonials
Honor’s the “I?– “We speak from the self outward?
Hip hop feminists speak through alternative representations of women of color that challenge and subvert racial-sexual stereotypes
Uses identity to name and subvert power imbalance

Questions Hip Hop Feminists Like to Ask

How are black and brown female bodies being represented in hip hop culture?
How are these representations linked to historical processes of racism, sexism and capitalist exploitation of black women’s bodies, selves and humanities?
Why are there so little variety in the way black women’s bodies are being represented in hip hop culture, and in American popular culture more generally?
Links representations to the realities of sexual and gender based violence against women of color (Queen Latifah, U.N.I.T.Y./Lauryn Hill That Thing)

February 9, 2009

Asha Bandele Poem

I found this poem in Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Asha also wrote The Prisoner's Wife. The format is a little off, but it is still very powerful.

In Response to a Brother's Question About What He Should Do When His Best Friend Beats His Woman

Snatch him up by the back of his neck
run him into his own fist,
tell him who the real enemy is
show him
make him swallow his own teeth,
do not help when they scratch the inside of his throat,
tell him it was his fault,
make his eyes swell up so he looks like a freak,
make him go to work like that and come up with excuses why he looks so bad,
tell him it's the white man,
show no sympathy when he tries to hide from the whispers,
tell him you're sorry,
tell him you love him and then kick his ass again,
tell him it was his fault,
question him on why he's such a coward,
interrogate his ass,
make him beg forgiveness,
watch him crawl,
put the word out on the street,
it does not think it only attacks,
it makes weak-ass excuses,
it takes no responsibility,
it picks on things smaller than itself and reads Sharazad Ali,
it worships Miles Davis,
and if he finally understands,
then go to him,
find out where it started,
search for burn marks beneath his flesh,
peel back the pain,
be a brother,
Haki Madhubuti to him,
whisper Sonia Sanchez,
let him sleep in your arms,
stand alone if you have to,
this is the right thing to do,
stand alone,
let them talk,
while you break centuries of viscous cycles,
face the contradictions, the sliced open bellies,
the jaws wired shut,
the assholes split,
the breasts scarred from cigarette butts and bloodied vaginas,
this is what it looks like,
do not turn away now,
babies beat out of wombs,
spines curved,
uneven legs that no longer walk,
dead eyes that do not see tomorrow,
livers imprinted with size 12 shoes,

face the contradiction,

that looks like you,
that smells like you,
that feels like you,
and push out the violence,

be unafraid to be a man who confronts men,

about women,

be unafraid to be a man

who confronts men,
big mean-ass -- nasty men,

be unafraid -- to be a man

who confronts


February 8, 2009

Is Atmoshpere "real" hip-hop?

I had a sort of epiphany in regards to what makes hip hop authentic after class on Thursday. I was listening to my I-pod on shuffle and Atmosphere’s “Summer Song? came on. Now, as most of you know, Atmosphere originated out of the Twin Cities and I’ve listened to this song on numerous occasions before I heard it on Thursday, but something about the song struck me this time. consider Atmosphere to be real hip-hop, but I'm not really part of the hip hop generation, so in theory, would my opinion even be relevant in the world of "real" hip-hop? Authenticity has been the biggest issue for me to wrap my head around in class because it seems like the message behind the music should be what determines whether hip-hop is authentic or not, not the color of the artist’s skin or what neighborhood they grew up in.

I I also was thinking a lot about the point that someone in class brought up (I think it was Sierra), about authenticity versus success, and whether you can really be authentic if you “sold out? to be successful. From what we have learned so far in class, do you guys think that Atmosphere is considered real hip-hop? Are artists that became successful and “sold out? any less authentic then they were underground, even if they are playing the same songs and rapping about the same things they did before?

I know this post may seem totally random, but I have just been struggling with what “real? hip hop is, and more importantly, what makes it “real??

February 7, 2009

Tricia Rose at Gordan Parks High School

Tonight I went and saw Tricia Rose speak at Gordon Parks School and I thought she was brilliant. She outlined a lot of what she wrote about in "Hip Hop Wars," but kept it real (not to be cliche). She related to the Hip Hop culture and the audience in a way that just made sense.

One thing that she talked about that I knew little about was the Telecommunications Act in 1996 that basically let two huge corporations buy up almost all of the radio stations across the nation- Radio One and Clear Channel.

I think this is an incredibly important fact because these corporations basically took over stations and decided what they will play. Only certain singles are allowed to be played at certain intervals; if you don't fit the criteria, you don't get air time. I think this influence is huge in changing mainstream rap into what it is today with the sexism, prisons, violence, and misogyny. I am really glad that I was able to make it out to see Tricia Rose speak; I look forward to reading the rest of her book.

I think one of her key points during her talk was a greater need for discussion with the rap artists of the mainstream. She doesn't discount rappers hardships growing up, like Jay-Z, but said that he has the money now and is not living that life anymore, so he should talk about why he is still doing it. She also criticized Nelly for his claim of victimization at Spellman College, saying that if he cannot back up and discuss what he is doing and the messages he sends, he should not be doing it.

February 6, 2009

not my place really.

that sucks, i had started this blog but didn't think i published it.
how embarrassing. well, now it's finished.

when does it become necessary to draw what lines? to define hip-hop feminism? to declare a set of laws under which you can position yourself a hip-hop feminist?

i don't believe that there is a reason to draw lines in terms of hip-hop feminism. within an organization or a political platform it is helpful to have a definition of such, but i don't believe that you must adhere strictly to the guidelines or beliefs of any definition in order to support/identify with it.
as the name suggests an identification with hip-hop is essential to make a claim from a hip-hop feminist standpoint, but i am not sure that denying any well meaning individual knowledge or insight into a lifestyle or an experience does anyone any good.

we were talking in class on tuesday about the impact of black feminist theory on hip-hop feminist activism, and i think that within the hip-hop movement that there are enough strong voices of women of color that there is room for activism on the part of others. i don't even necessarily think that hip-hop feminists even need to go so far as to refuse to listen to the crap that a lot of popular rap is spewing today, so many people have said in class that they don't agree with the lyrics but that they listen to it anyway because it is catchy and it is available. but i do think that a critical eye, or ear, is necessary in that case.
i guess that it boils down to the fact that i am not in a position to define hip-hop feminism, and that i have a hard time telling anyone what they can or cannot call themselves.

Boundaries of Hip Hop Feminism

Gwen Pough defines hip hop as a worldview--as a epistemology grounded in the experiences of communities color--and as a cultural site for re-articulating identity and sexual politics. She goes on to write, "a hip hop feminist is more than just someone who likes and listens to rap music, but feels conflicted about it. A hip hop feminist is some one who is immersed in hip hop culture and experiences hip hop as a way of life." In your opinion, when does it become necessary to draw these lines?

February 4, 2009

My Revolution - Sarah Jones

I'm not sure how to put a video in the actual blog so here is the link to the Sarah Jones 'My Revolution'. This is the song that she got a ton of flack from the FCC for obscenity.

February 3, 2009

On 'Authenticity'

Considering the discussion we were having today in class regarding what makes hip hop authentic or inauthentic, I thought it was pretty funny when I saw this advertisement on myspace:


I'm not going to lie, I didn't check out the station...but if you can find REAL hip hop so easily on myspace, is any of it REAL anymore? I guess that minimally I think it's worthwhile to ponder how the internet has changed the nature of "underground" or "obscure" as classifications for music.