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Sexuality is socially constructed and "Hip-Hop Better Wake Up!"

In response to one of the speakers in Antony Thomas’ movie, Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She, Shivananda Khan, (OBE, Naz Foundation International): Khan talked about Indian culture being secretly homosexualized or one that had hidden homosexual tendencies and he used the example of men dancing with men at weddings and women dancing with only other women. I think he was rather stretching that example, I think the reason that most conservative Indian men and women do not dance with each other at functions is because, they discouraged from fraternizing with each other, especially in the presence of adults – parents, grand-parents, etc…It is seen as inappropriate or scandalous – especially if you are a young, unmarried man or woman and you parents are trying to arrange your marriage or matchmake you.

The quote that one of the speakers (didn’t catch his name) in the video said really stood out to me. He said, “Biology loves variation, society hates it? “Can’t we respect diversity? We have to respect it because it’s nature.? It’s so true; nature is all about evolution and diversity, while society and people construct limitations and identities – whether it be sexual, racial and/or class. In the Feminist Frontiers textbook I came across a startling outlook on sexuality. In Michael Messner’s article, Becoming 100% Straight, he states that “heterosexuality is a constructed identity, a performance, and an institution.? I was really floored by this revelation – it seems like I should have already thought about sexuality as being a constructed identity; I already knew that about race being a social construction, so I couldn’t believe that I had never really thought about sexuality this way before. It makes total sense, I do (or don’t do) certain things around certain people just because I don’t want them to question my sexuality, or it isn’t acceptable to do around to some straight people. Gender performance or “doing heterosexuality? is evident, especially in my peers in my residence hall, for instance, wrestlers will grope each other, while wearing skimpy tights, for 4 hours a day and then call someone a “fag? or “queer? if that person does something that might be construed as an action that a “real manly? wrestler would never do. Or even take my family: Hypothetically, if I were to constantly bring men around to functions or just one steady boyfriend that would be absolutely unacceptable, because my parents would think we are having sex, and we are having sex before marriage, that is scandalous! On the other hand, if I don’t bring home men, (which I don’t) my sexuality is called into question and everyone, from my parents to my little sister asks me if I am a lesbian or if I have a girlfriend. Messner’s statement makes systems of power so much more poignant and it reminds me to not forget the extent society has constructed me.

It was powerful to see a heterosexual Man of Color, Byron Hurt, talk about the important issue of how music impacts the sexism in our society. In the clip “Bitch Niggaz? in his film, Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, I identified with his response to one of the woman in the video who said that she didn’t think the rappers were talking about her when they use words such as bitch or ho. Hurt said that Black people everywhere would hold President Bush accountable if he referenced Black Americans or African Americans in a negative and derogatory way. Rapper who use words such as bitch or ho are referencing woman, which I identify myself as, how are they not talking about me? If they can say it in their music videos and on their cd, they are certainly going to use those same exact words to describe me, my sister, my mother, my daughter, my friends, my mentors, my boss, and everyone that is a woman! I really do agree with Hurt in that the current hip hop scene is really detrimental to our society and perpetuates misogyny. And in response to some of the artists saying that “hip hop is a man’s game,? I believe that Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, and Beyoncé have some thing to say to them!

Comments

Hip hop is totally sexist. It's aweful. I never understood the women who wanted to be associated with it in any way. But perhaps they also think that way, on a subconscious level.