Following my last post, I discussed how women in hip-hop culture are portrayed in hip-hop/rap culture, which could be recognized as a betrayal to women around the world. Women are not as respected in commercial hip-hop media as they should be, making themselves vulnerable to adopt negative connotations of what a women is. Additionally, many argue that African-American women are targeted more, thus demoralizing the true essence of black womanhood as a whole. This is what is believed to create gender stereotypes among women of African decent that aren’t true. But, what does it mean to be African-American? Many theorists like Boykin and Toms suggest that, “racial identity includes incorporations of Afrocentric values, including spirituality, communalism, harmony, movement, verve, spontaneity, expressive individualism, oral tradition, and social time perspective (Boykin and Toms 1985).” We can conclude that commercialized hip-hop media doesn’t represent their definition of what it is to be of African decent. Either way, anyone has the liberty to classify as African-American regardless. Now another underlying question is at hand, what does it mean to be a woman? According to Carter and Parks, “research has found that womanist identity in adults is related to self-esteem, perceptions of environmental bias, and gender role expectations (Carter and Parks 1996 1996).” “Feminine characteristics of a woman include positivity, submissiveness, and nurturance (Buckley and Carter 2005).”
Now tracing back to music, analyzing the many hip-hop videos today, we may see common trends of African-American women acting seductively in a sexual manner. Most of the time, a lot of body is exposed while the camera zooms in on their “best features.” Furthermore, people are upset because not only does it create a false impression of black woman, but also their self-esteem and confidence is also affected.
From these suggestive images by African-American women, many people are asking the same questions. What is the correlation of African-American women and hip-hop? Why are they always displayed the same way? Considering most rap artists are of African decent, it could be an ethnic preference for black women as requested by artists. But even so, that still does not excuse how the women are treated. Even if the woman complies what she has to do in the music videos, photo-shoots, or whatever it may be, subconsciously they are still being affected negatively. According to research study by Dionne Stephens & April Few -experts in psychology and human development- they examined the effects of images of African American in hip-hop. They discovered that subjective meanings of woman in hip-hop media affect a woman’s sexuality, physical attractiveness, and interpersonal relationships. In other words, with experiencing such visuals, woman lack confidence with themselves, mainly because they believe that physical appearance is what matters most to potential mates (men). More importantly, the sexual outcome behaviors of woman are more likely to have unplanned pregnancies, more sexual onsets, and greater chances to contract sexual diseases. Many of these consequences can turn serious, which can cause a huge toll on the mental well-being of a woman.
Further exploring this study there are eight terms that fallaciously frame the African-American woman in hip-hop culture. The terms are: Diva, the Gold Digger, the Freak, the Dyke, the Gangster Bitch, the Sister Savior, the Earth Mother, and the Baby Mama. Each term has its own definitions that inappropriately describe a promiscuous type of woman. In general, all the sexual images and implications have a direct impact on African-Americans’ sexual self-identity, behaviors, and experiences. With so much accessible technology, it’s very difficult to avoid all these images.
Finding a solution to end this issue of false representations of women is difficult. Yes, it is all around us, but there are alternatives. We have choices of what we want to listen to, and drive of what controls us. You may have to dig deeper to find something that is suitable for yourself. In addition, this post does not imply that one should be deemed by the mainstream hip-hop of today, but rather informational and conscious advice of what is served to you by the masses. Being aware about what these images can lead up to is one step forward with disallowing false impression of African American women and women as a whole. With perpetual sales of music that objectifies women, the battle will still continue against women.