Hip Hop and Contemporary American Society
In the book, The Hip Hop Wars, chapter eight, “There are Bitches and Hoes,” Tricia Rose discusses sexism in hip hop, she talks about how hip-hop artists’ started labeling women as “bitches and hoes.” Furthermore, she says that hip hop became a “bitches and hoes factory”, that reassures that women stick to limited roles they are “asked” to play, by basically not giving them any other options if they want to remain part of the culture.
Even though hip hop isn’t the major reason behind America’s sexism, it is one of the most noticeable sources, especially in Black popular culture. This results in a distinctive impact on Black women and also men, who basically rely on black culture as a source of support, affirmation, and ideal image. So, it is really important that Black popular culture is not overrun by masculine domination and inequality.
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Tricia Rose says, “as a result of the influence of raw sexual hierarchy from prison culture, many rappers began drawing pimp culture, style, slang, and attitude as part of their identities.”
Here are examples of several songs to show what Tricia Rose was trying to explain in her work.
Firstly, in a “freestyle” by Lil Baby, He says,
“Make these bitches fall in love……
Marlo my dawg that’s for sho’
We won’t fall out about shit
Specially not ’bout no bitch
We ain’t gon’ fall out bout hoes……
If she won’t fuck, I won’t make her
I don’t like bitches with makeup
If she want titties I pay for ’em
Get outta there when I wake up……”
He’s insulting women, acting as they need him and he is doing them a favor if he has sex with them, and if she refuses, he’ll force her to have sex anyways. He’s talking about them as objects and saying before-hand that he won’t fall for any one of them (because that would be a sign of weakness). It’s funny how he’s the one keeping them around but all the women who stick around are bitches. They are objects who should look and act exactly as he and his friends want them to but they are hoes and bitches for doing that.
If one looks at the lyrics video on YouTube and sees the comments. None of them are negative or criticizing the lyrics, People said:
“I’m addicted to this song, it’s like Kodak’s No flocking…can’t stop playing”
The sound and the beats are amazing. But do none of the fans realize that, according to these lyrics, women are not worthy of affection, just objects that are used and then thrown away?
Rose says that when artists are asked about these lyrics they reply with, “I am not referring to all Black women when I use these terms” (which basically says that some women are “bitches and hoes”. Such behavior normalizes sexism, making life harder for all women.
“This separation of Black women, into the good ones (the ones they are not insulting) and the bad ones (the ones they have “authority” to label and insult) is a primary means by which sexism and other forms of discrimination work” says Rose.
Nevertheless, it is important to realize that inequality is an ongoing war that was present way before the rise of hip hop. Moreover, numerous female artists and qweer artists have stood up for their rights and made distinctive improvements.
Another sexist rap song is “98 Freestyle” by Big L, which says
“You mad cause I was in the van with your bitch
with both hands on her tits….
“I got more riches than you, fuck more bitches than you……
“Fuckin chicks is a rule
If my girl think I’m loyal then that bitch is a fool……”
Again, they are talking about women as objects through whom they get revenge and it’s like a conquest. They are trophies that are shown off. Women are just a count ,the more they conquer, the cooler they are, while they are the bitches. Again, it’s ironic how hanging out with rappers is what makes women bitches. It is true that they exaggerate in the songs, but slowly it becomes an acceptable thing to actually believe that. With so many people listening, it has a lot of influence on younger fans.
Many times, in response to questions about sexism, rap artists say that “we call men hoes too.” But as Rose explained in her book, the overall society reasons, even rewards, male’s sexual promiscuity (but not if homosexual). In black street phraseology, that’s what the dignified “playa” is basically about: a man who has a lot of sex with various women, with barely any consequences. Therefore, male hoes are not equivalent to female hoes even when the same term is used.
Furthermore, in response to questions about sexism in rap, many women and girls say that since they are not “bitches and hoes” these rappers are “not talking about me” because I don’t “behave that way” so, “it doesn’t impact me.” However, such wording is hurtful to all women. As Rose said, “the line between women who “deserve” to be called such names and those who do not, does not exist.”
Nonetheless, it’s not only men who use such wording, but it is also just as harmful when coming from other women as they work against themselves. So, it’s not as simple as blaming male hip-hop artists or even just men in general.
Another sexist and misogynistic song is “Fuckin or what” by Jadakiss
“Ain’t no need in buying a drink or holding a convo
If you ain’t coming back to the condo
It’s damn near 4 in the morning ain’t shit to discuss
Til you ask which dick do you suck….
Bring your girlfriend in the room shorty and lick her asscrack
And even though your tongue stuck in her butt
The only thing I want to know is we fuckin’ or what?”
Yet another example of how rappers treat women as objects. He doesn’t want to hear women talk or waste money on a drink if they are not going to do exactly what he wants. Women just exist to please him. If women are so worthless, and they are nothing. Why do they write songs about what they don’t care about at all?
Rose says that rappers are reassuring young women fans to adopt the behavior of “bitches and hoes” to get attention, to be desired, and to be considered sexy. “For many young Black women, the language of commercial hip hop about Black women and sexuality has influenced their understanding of Black women, not just reflected it.” Nevertheless, sexism is worst when women are pitted against one another as they internalize sexism.
However, the world isn’t as simple as that, if it wasn’t hip hop there would be another source that normalized sexism. As a matter of fact, they are all around, hip hop is just very popular.
Rose also talked about “Tip Drill” by Nelly.
“I said it must be ya ass cause it ain’t yo’ face
I need a tip drill, I need a tip drill….
Now mama girl you gotta friend that don’t mind joinin’ in
I’m a tip drill, cause I’m a tip drill….
Toot that ass up mama, put that dip in ya back….
I know you a trick go an’ spend that shit
You old tip drill, you monkey-ass tip drill…”
This is another song where women exist to obey men and provide sexual pleasure. The whole music video is built around objectifying women. As a result, many women were offended by his work. As seen in Lecture, the girls from Spelman college refused to donate bone marrow if Nelly wouldn’t discuss objectifying women with them.
Rose says, “Rappers like Snoop Dogg, Ice T, Pimp C, Dr. Dre, David Branner, 50 Cent, Nelly and Lil’ Pimp brag about controlling women like pimps, being stylish like pimps, and about being pimps themselves.” They also promote pimp-based products like Nelly’s energy drink, Pimp juice. This is an act of showing that being a strong masculine man means being a pimp (who is basically dominating prostitutes and living off their sex work. Street pimps use physical violence (including rape) as well as emotional and psychological manipulation to control prostitutes.)
Furthermore, Rose says, what is shown as sexual freedom in the hip hop world, is actually a way for men to obtain their sexual fantasies. But the exceptional double standards on which women’s sexual participation is judged by the society shows the patriarchal system at work.
“Candy Shop” by 50 Cent is another song that objectifies women. Sex and wealth are all he talks about. In the video, he drives up to women who are dressed “provocatively” in a Ferrari. Masculine dominance is shown throughout the video. The video gives a message that men make all the money and have all the power while women are sexual objects that should be controlled by men. Countless youngsters follow him. It’s people like him that set trends for teens and young adults who rely on black culture as a source of reflection, support, and affirmation.
Again, they are encouraging fans to act like what they call “Bitches and hoes” to get attention and to be considered sexy. As Rose said, “they make it so, behavior such as that of “Bitches and hoes” gets all the attention in hip hop. Of course, many women participate in the videos and other aspects of culture that demeans them and many female fans emulate such behavior as well. Women are rewarded by men for participating in this system.” It is extremely hard for Black women to take stand in a society where they are already disregarded. Byron Hurt asks some women what they have to say about being called “bitches”. They reply that they consider themselves classy and say that the men who said this about them had a “personal problem with themselves.”
Rose also says that female fans too, blame women who wear hyper-sexualized hip-hop-inspired clothing and participate in hip hop videos, stripper and, groupie culture.
Nevertheless, it is critical to realize, that rappers are in a dilemma themselves as they have to choose between fame, money and non-discriminating songs, while such songs are what gets popular and are desired by the audience. They have the pressure of becoming superstars and bringing in money for themselves as well as the labels.
And lastly, Bitches love me by Lil Wayne,
“She say “I never wanna you make you mad,
I just wanna make you proud….
I say “baby, just make me cum,
Then don’t make a sound….
These hoes got pussies like craters
Can’t treat these hoes like ladies, man…
Yeah, all my bitches love me
And I love all my bitches
But it’s like soon as I cum
I come to my senses….”
So basically, they want women to love them but don’t want to give any love or respect in return. Once the purpose of their existence is fulfilled, they don’t care and want them out of there. They tell themselves that they are perfect and women are just replaceable objects. He says he only “loves” women as long as they serve a purpose.
Rose explains, rappers try to divert the attention from sexism by saying that there are critical and more crucial things to talk about than sexism in rap music. Mentioning wars, hunger, poverty, and Hurricane Katrina, among other tragedies, rappers and their various representatives try to draw attention away from “unimportant” topics of sexism.
Are they saying that issues brought up in their music are unimportant, less worthy of discussion? If they are so many more important things to talk about, why aren’t they rapping about these more important issues far more often?
Rose says, when the war is over, they’ll find something else “more important” than sexism about which Humans should be concerned, and portrayal of black women will remain unimportant.
However, taking a stand for anyone is not easy. Rose says, “to challenge sexism in the black community (as in large society) is to discourage public support. In fact, doing so is often received as anti-black community action and can make one a target.” But then again, it is vital for all to take a stand and do whatever is in our power to reduce sexism and objectification of women.
Eventhough, for most people, hip hop is the representation of African American culture, it does not truly speak for them. African American society is much broader and more complex than that. Furthermore, hip hop is really diverse itself, as it discusses many different aspects of life and is not the main source of sexism, regardless of many sexist songs. Nonetheless, rappers should try to realize the impact of their music and reduce their roles in advancing sexism on their path to fame.
There are many organizations and groups with the agenda to eliminate sexism and people personally taking a stand and working towards a fair world. Moreover, it is legitimate to say that much progress has been made in the last 10 years as more and more rising female hip hop artists become famous.