Monday, January 17, 2005

i ain't no ho: essence mag and hip hop

Take Back The Music

thanks to Girl in the Locker Room!, i found this discussion of hip hop's representation of black female sexuality and black women to be fascinating. it should be interesting to see how the discussion unfolds over the next year. already, the comments section is lively.

i don't listen to hip hop - i think i missed the wave when it all started. i was in high school and i just thought it sounded silly (i was very bougie back then, i realize that now) so now i haven't really developed a taste for it. but i did like the socially conscious artists (don't aske me to remember names.) now, whenever i see a video or hear a lyric i usually just cringe.

i'm having a bill cosby moment: don't we know better? after we've climbed out of slavery, where our bodies were literally traded upon, haven't we learned anything?

i refuse to see this as a 'values' argument, in the white republican sense. black sexuality in america has always been corrupted and 'other' from standard white middle class sexuality. (you'd best learn your black history before you comment.) the solution to wrenching hip hop from the pimp-ho paradigm isn't necessarily to impose an image of the 'lady' on us black women. ida b. wells was a lady - and she was loud, ferocious and masculine. harriet jacobs was a 'lady' - and she consciously 'gave' her body to a white lover to save herself from her slave master. in other words, don't try to impose another patriarchal definition of femininity on top of us when it never applied (and was totally problematic) in the first place.

some (even some of my friends) have thought that since the dancers choose this profession, then it's all part of the commodities game - and it smacks of highhandedness to say to these women that they shouldn't represent themselves this way. perhaps these women are exercising agency. perhaps these roles as background dancers, hos and hot tubbers is promoting a sense of sexual empowerment.

give me a break. empowerment only happens when you're in control of your image and representation. who's in charge here? essence's argument, and that of most black women, isn't with the women in these videos. it's with the men who make them. it's with the men who write the lyrics. this is the point: black women are a blank in the entire process - directors, artists, producers, etc. our issue is with the men - our brothers, friends and fathers who choose to represent us this way.

the whole jiggling ass-thing, frankly, is pissing us off.

1 comment:

clara* said...

i've gotten into the 'sexual empowerment' arguement with several male and even female friends. i really can't stand when people say that it's a non-issue because these women choose to become strippers, prostitutes and sexual objects. that it gives them power over men. it makes me crazy.

i love the idea of a powerful sexual woman, but show me a woman with her ass grinding a man's crotch and face near the ground and i do not feel empowered. if a man saw his sister or mother this way would he be proud?

thanks for the link churchgal, i'll have to check it out.