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Beyond Beats and Rhymes

As most people have previously commented on, Byron Hurt’s “Beyond Beats and Rhymes? was a powerful film that illustrated key points of hip-hop and the culture of hip-hop artists. Throughout the segments of the film Hurt is trying to show how hip-hop has transitioned in order for men remain in the stereotypical manhood identity: their strong, tough, have lots of girls, in control etc. He also uses the film to show how evolving manhood images that are more respectful to women or less stereotypical are being criticized. Hip-hop as I have known it has long been associated with negative ideas and disrespectful words which at one point was a form of expression through words and rhythms and brought people together. For me most of the information was not new, it was interesting to me solely that he took the time to put it together and is going around the country promoting it to raise awareness. It’s not his intention to diss hip-hop as he obviously cares a lot about it; instead he is providing education on gender violence and how to prevent it. While watching the segments of this film I was immediately reminded of Laurel Richardson’s Gender Stereotyping in the English Language. She did an excellent job displaying all the general propositions about being male and female and the slang terms that have developed over the years. Like Hurt, she did it not to offend anyone or place blame; rather it was to make people aware that such stereotypes exist. Richardson’s fourth proposition states “in practice, women are defined in terms of their sexual desirability (to men); men are defined in terms of their sexual prowess (over women)? (p.101). Just as language, music and people change, so do terms that describe people. In the “Sisters and Bitches? clip women were offended it seemed with both terms (either a sister meaning you weren’t sexually attractive or a bitch meaning you looked easy.) I think it will still take a while for people to realize that it has become a normalized word not only in hip-hop communities but in groups of people across the United States. Women got over slang terms such as “dog, fox, broad, ass, chick? (p. 101) and will continue to adapt to the changing concepts. Learning how to become socialized within your community involves not only what you wear and what you do, but also understanding the language and what different words mean in different groups of people.