A woman being disrespected in hip-hop is nothing new. As much as I love hip-hop I think we can all pretty much agree it hasn’t been the best about requiting that love to us ladies. We all sing along to songs like “Bitches Ain’t Shit” and “Ain’t No Fun” brushing aside the wildly misogynistic lyrics because well, it’s hip-hop and we’ve made it “okay”. We conjure up all kinds of explanations to cushion our cognitive dissonance; “It’s self expression!” “The beat is really what I’m dancing to!” and the all time classic, “Well, he ain’t talking bout ME!” Be real, we’ve all said all of these at some point or another to excuse ourselves from basically willingly taking part in the marring of our own femininity by the hands of a male MC. So the beat goes on, along with the beat down of our worth, as the disrespect gets packaged as entertainment. It’s just the way it is. I wish it stopped there, however unfortunately it doesn’t.
See the thing about art is it often imitates life, and vise versa. Creating somewhat of a conundrum of cause and effect. Now, I don’t know which came first, the chicken or the egg, or in this case the chickenhead or the MC, but somehow the disrespect that was being put on wax began being put in the mix. Many of the men on the mic who were disrespecting and objectifying women in their songs began doing that in actuality. Which then trickled down to their crews, to behind the scenes professionals, and to fans, until it became a known part of the culture.
I’m not saying it was embraced by all, but few challenged it. I’ve always said that hip-hop is a cockfest and women simply don’t have any party favors. Meaning, the culture, as much as women were a vital part of building it and are a vital part of living, sustaining, and nurturing it, is a man’s world therefore women, by nature of being, well, women will never get an equal shake. So when faced with that all to common less-than treatment many of us woman of the hip-hop guard are put in the predicament of put up or shut up. We want to be taken seriously as members of this rhythmic realm so even though the instinct may be, “Wait this doesn’t feel right. I shouldn’t let this rock” the common reaction chosen is to just “be cool.”
Nothing gets checked or challenged. Like I said before, hip-hop is a man’s world, and by crying foul you easily get ostracized, labeled a “bitch” or, dare I say, a “diva”, or even worse, weak. “Can’t handle the heat, stay out the studio.” We allow ourselves to become “one of the guys” in order to fit in and prosper in the man’s world of hip hop, letting countless infractions of disrespect go down. (Have you ever heard of someone claiming “sexual harassment” in hip-hop? Me either.) Thus the behavior continues and with the anonymity of the Internet it has only worsened.
Last weekend when I was hosting the 5th Annual Roots Picnic in Philly, during a performance by rapper, Wale I tweeted:
This ni99a Wale just moonwalked on stage.
I’m always amazed at the love women have for him
Lol He be rappin tho
Back on his bus he saw the tweet, inquired about where I was, and brazenly approached me while I sat on stage taking in De La Soul’s amazing set. Furiously he demanded an explanation for the tweet, yelling, “So if I tweeted that I’m amazed at how men like you wouldn’t be upset?”
I tried to brush him off telling him to “Leave it alone and lemme enjoy the show!” Still he was bothered, yelling over the music, “You tryna dis me?!”
Frustrated with the topic and his accusatory tone I yelled back sarcastically, “Yes Ok Yes I was trying to dis you. You happy now? Leave me alone!”