Robert Marshall| Staff Writer
Many times, we as consumers, listen to music or watch music videos not realizing the messages being conveyed to us, nor the subconscious connections and ideas that are impacted on our psyche. “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” a film discussed at Party Rock or Party Fail?, was the first film to discuss this idea. This film showed how Hip-Hop, and its male leaders, have perpetuated the idea of manhood to be defined as the anti-woman. Many of the specific terms used in the film may not be politically correct, but being college students, we have all heard them and possibly even said them ourselves.
Speaking as a man, I have to ask if you can really blame Hip-Hop alone for these ideas? Growing up, I was taught that when I fell down I needed to get back up, if I got hurt, to suck it up and stop crying because I was a man, and definitely that if any man disrespected my sister or mother, to handle them appropriately. This placed within me two ideas. The first, that a woman was something to be protected. The second, that being a man meant that yes, I was supposed to be strong and often emotionally detached from situations.
This definitely implanted in my mind that I was essentially the anti-female. My sister could cry, but I couldn’t. She was fragile and to be defended, while I was the defender and had to watch out for myself. Therefore to be called a girl is to have gone against what I was always taught.
One person from the film can be quoted as saying that there is nothing worse for a man than to be called a woman, or to be identified as having any of the traditionally “female” characteristics. Is the idea of homosexuality so hated within the Hip-Hop community because of the mentality that precedes that statement? The stereotypes of a homosexual man often do not align with the “manly” traits that Hip-Hop portrays. Maybe it is the stereotypical homosexual man’s perceived acceptance of a non-traditional role that confuses and infuriates the Hip-Hop community.
This idea of defining the gender role rears itself again and again and is pivotal in explaining how people of different sex should interact with each other.
Women also have played their role in defining the man. They have an idea from media outlets and from growing up that they play their role as the anti-man and that what a good man really is. A good man will not hesitate to protect his woman. He will be a breadwinner, support his family, make sure the cars work and the grass is cut.
In my opinion the music industry, and even media in general is not totally to blame, but they are definitely not faultless in their perpetuation of stereotypes and ideas that do damage to the male’s mind, and his perception of reality.
Hip-Hop has constantly been attacked for the images it portrays, the language it uses, and the ideas that it sends to its massive audience. In many music videos women are portrayed simply as objects of a man’s sexual desire or enjoyment. Women are constantly portrayed in settings and are involved in acts that they appear to like. They smile for the camera as they are fondled as drinks are poured on them and are stared at as they perform for a man’s enjoyment. These images can severely confuse an impressionable young man, and can cause him to emulate these acts in order to be seen in the same light that their favorite artists are. They mistreat and disrespect women and even when the women’s reaction does not match what they have already seen, their subconscious ideas of masculinity can push them to continue to act in the undesired manner.
At the program, a video was shown of the 2000 Puerto Rican Day Parade. In the short film you can see women being sexually assaulted, having water thrown on them, their clothes torn off, and then being fondled and harassed. Can Hip-Hop or media be blamed alone for the actions? No, but I do feel as though there should be more accountability for the images they portray and the light that they place women in.
The truth is that there is no one group that can be blamed for the definition of the sexual roles and how we as men interpret that definition. There are many integral parts and at the end of the day it us up to us to decide the kind of man that we want to be and how we want to influence the next generation.