Feminist Issues and Motherhood Concepts in Hip Essay

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Feminist Issues and Motherhood Concepts in Hip Hop Culture

Female Imagery in the Hip Hop Entertainment Genre:

Hip Hop culture and artistic expression relies heavily on female imagery, although there are valid reasons to suggest that much of it is negative, portraying women in a manner that is disrespectful and even misogynistic. On one hand, song lyrics, music videos and other visual representations of the genre seem focused on the allure of femininity and female sexuality; on the other hand, it has been suggested that many of those same vehicles perpetuate negative attitudes, stereotypes, and expectations of women.

In general, Hip Hop culture emphasizes female beauty and sexual attractiveness, as well as representing women as one of the primary motivations for male achievement. However, the medium does so substantially at the expense of women, at least to the extent it implies that women are merely playthings or some of the "trappings" of male success and wealth. Typically, Hip Hop imagery portrays males as striving toward achieving a position of wealth and fame in order to be able to enjoy the company and attention of many different females rather than in a manner consistent with traditional concepts of one-on-one relationships.

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Even more damaging to cultural beliefs and expectations about women is the rampant use of terms like "bitch" and "ho" to such an extent that both are used even when no pejorative connotation is even intended. To a certain extent, females are also responsible for allowing the perpetuation of this element because they have adopted the same terminology, frequently referring to one another and to themselves as "bitches" instead of objecting to that terminology altogether. In that regard, even the concept of motherhood has been corrupted through the use of the term "mommie" in situations where it is intended as an insult or at least as a description with negative connotations.

Essay on Feminist Issues and Motherhood Concepts in Hip Assignment

To a certain extent, this broader use of the term "mommie" for girlfriends, lovers, and even complete strangers seems to have originated in the cultural melding of Hispanic culture and the Hip Hop genre. Likewise, the term "papi" is also commonly used in the Hispanic community in a very similar way. However, whereas the typical use of the term in the Hispanic community seems more related to an element of respect, which seems substantially less true with respect to the way the phrase is used in the Hip Hop community.

Confusing Concepts and Terminology about Motherhood in Hip Hop Lyrics:

Consider the image of urban motherhood portrayed by Tupac's Brenda's Got a Baby in which the late artist presents the plight of a 12-year-old mother:

"I hear Brenda's got a baby

But, Brenda's barely got a brain

A damn shame

Tha girl can hardly spell her name

She tried to hide her pregnancy, from her family

Who didn't really care to see, or give a damn if she

Went out and had a church of kids

As long as when tha check came they got first dibs

Now Brenda's belly is gettin bigger

But no one seems ta notice any change in her figure

She's 12 years old and she's having a baby

In love with tha molester, who's sexin her crazy

He left her and she had tha baby solo, she had it on tha bathroom floor

And didn't know so, she didn't know, what ta throw away and what ta keep

She wrapped tha baby up and threw him in tha trash heap

I guess she thought she'd get away

Wouldn't hear tha cries

She didn't realize

How much tha little baby had her eyes

Now tha baby's in tha trash heap balling"

Positive and Negative Female Role Models:

The objection to the images used by Tupac is not that it is necessarily false or untrue; rather the objection is that it focuses on the bleakest examples of urban hopelessness in connection with motherhood without any attempt to balance those images with more positive examples. In that regard, Missy Elliot provides a better example, precisely because of her success despite enduring a childhood reminiscent of the images presented by Tupac. Elliot was raped by an older cousin throughout an entire year when she was eight years old and also witnessed her father beat her mother daily and vividly recalls having her father force her mother and her into the street, naked, at gunpoint.

Her early experiences profoundly influenced her later desire to devote herself to the social cause of domestic violence. Throughout her career, she has channelled her fame into beneficial projects for the community, particularly those intended to protect children and empower females, such as Break the Cycle, a charitable foundation dedicated to ending multigenerational domestic violence and abuse. She has also been involved in the cause of childhood obesity partly because of the detrimental effect of being overweight on young women.

Some female Hip Hop artists do contribute alternative imagery that counters the most negative images of females and motherhood, both in their lyrics as well as in their public statements about the relationship between the genders and the role of women in society. Queen Latifah, for one example, purposely counters the misogynistic theme in Hip Hop music and videos. In various interviews, she has stated her wish that "every woman would love herself and embrace what she was given naturally."

She has also presented a far different attitude to motherhood than the one described by Tupac, referring to having children in this way in a 2005 Woman's World interview: "I'd like to have and adopt; I think I'd be a great mom, honestly. I don't think I'll have any problem giving them all the love in the world. Discipline will be the hardest part."

On the other hand, Queen Latifah's influence as a positive role model is contradicted by some of her own conduct, such as the circumstances resulting in several arrests in 1996 for assaulting a photographer in one case and for carrying an illegal loaded firearm and marijuana in another.

Nevertheless, her lyrics undoubtedly support respect for females and strongly criticize the disparaging terminology that has become so pervasive within Hip Hop culture as pertains to women. She specifically addresses the use of "bitch" and "ho" in her work Unity:

" Every time I hear a brother call a girl a bitch or a ho

Trying to make a sister feel low

You know all of that gots to go

Now everybody knows there's exceptions to this rule

Now don't be getting mad, when we playing, it's cool

But don't you be calling out my name

I bring wrath to those who disrespect me like a dame

That's why I'm talking, one day I was walking down the block

I had my cutoff shorts on right cause it was crazy hot

I walked past these dudes when they passed me

One of "em felt my booty, he was nasty

I turned around red, somebody was catching the wrath

Then the little one said (Yeah me bitch) and laughed

Since he was with his boys he tried to break fly

Huh, I punched him dead in his eye and said "Who you calling a bitch

Later, in the same work, she also specifically addresses the issue of domestic violence and spousal abuse and female empowerment in the face of male belittlement:

" You put your hands on me again I'll put your ass in handcuffs

I guess I fell so deep in love I grew dependency

I was too blind to see just how it was affecting me

All I knew was you, you was all the man I had

And I was scared to let you go, even though you treated me bad

But I don't want my kids to see me getting beat down

By daddy smacking mommy all around


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