The last post about sexism in Hip Hop has been on my heart for a few weeks now and I'm just getting around to putting it down on Internet paper. My thoughts since then have made me think about my femaleness in a way I haven't ever had to. I'm feeling my womanhood like never before. I've always been a female. No, I'm not a transsexual post-op just getting the swing of things. I was born with a vagina and have always been recognized as a female but suddenly something has changed. At 25-years-old I woke up and realized I'm a girl!
That's one of the good things about Hip Hop. One rhyme can pull you out of your naivety. One line can change your entire perspective. Why didn't I have this realization when I was introduced to the great Too $hort as a child? I don't know. Maybe because I can't take him seriously. I know he's dead serious but Freaky Tales still makes me laugh. The ridiculousness of it all makes it hard to internalize. I guess that's how I managed to float through life oblivious to the fact that some men really feel this way about women, it's just too ridiculous to take seriously. I've been a Hip Hop fan for as long as I can remember and I guess I've always thought, "all this 'bitches aint shit' mess... They CAN'T really BELIEVE that. It's just posturing. They're saying that for play play. No one REALLY feels like that about women."
I know what you're thinking. How could you not feel the sting of sexism with all the hardship women must face daily? Well, I'm still trying to work that out. What I do know is that I've always focused more on being Black than on being a woman. I've always thought of myself as Black first and a woman second. That may sound crazy to some of you but it's the truth. I don't recall talking about sexism in my house when I was growing up but race was a pretty common topic.
My mother was a woman who came out of Memphis, TN in the 60s to go on to receive her Ph.D. and become a very well-respected and accomplished educator. She ended up making more money than my father (and all the men in my family, for that matter) but never did I hear her complain about sexism. Never. I'd hear her tell stories about the racism she encountered in grad school, but never did I hear her say a word about being discriminated against because of her gender. We never talked about limitations being placed on me based on my gender so I simply never thought about it. Maybe this was purposeful on her part or maybe not. That we'll never know. But I do know that I never felt any type of way about being a girl. Until now. Now I'm walking around giving everyone the side-eye, bracing myself for a demeaning blow that may never come. Thanks Hip Hop... Love you lots! *rolls eyes*
I've felt this way before. Becoming suddenly self aware of something I should have noticed years before. I remember one time in high school I was walking down the hallway with my boyfriend when one of our classmates yelled out to him, "Dang Dre! You always get the girls with the big booties!" Dre's ex-girlfriend was notorious for her big butt so I was shocked that he would put me in the same big butt boat with her. I couldn't wait to get home and look in the mirror. After school, I did just that and sure enough I saw my donk sitting right there on my back! How had this escaped me? It took a fool literally yelling something ignorant in the hallway for me to see it. But even ignorant abrasiveness wasn't enough for me to see what has been right in front of me for years about my favorite musical genre's relationship with women.
Of course I've heard other women protest against misogyny in Hip Hop, but I always thought, "These rappers aren't talking about ME, so what's the big deal?" I thought these feminist hip hopper types were just being up tight and were taking it too seriously. Damn, have I become one of them?? I've noticed that the words hoe, bitch, slut, etc. have taken the place of girl, woman, lady in much of Hip Hop. If every time you reference a female you say hoe or bitch, you ARE talking about me. If I walk up to one of these random rappers on the street just to say what up, they don't see a young lady, they see a bitch. Young ladies obviously don't exist in the rap world because they never rap about them. I might be stating the obvious here but it's all new to me. Just like my big butt was in 11th grade.