8 years ago my sister suggested I find a way to publish the amusing emails I sent her about our dog Zoe. Now there is blogging! Zoe tales are about Zoe (3 1/2 lb Chihuahua), Gracie (bigger and the world's friendliest Chihuahua) and other stuff I am thinking about. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Hip Hop Feminism

Disclaimer: Some of the links will take you to some frank discussion and description. You should be able to tell by the context but be warned if you're sensitive to such things. Also, I do not link to the video mentioned below but if you must see it it's easy enough to Google it up.

The University of Chicago is holding a conference on Feminism and Hip Hop. This is in the wake of the protests of Nelly and his video for Tip Drill by students at Spelman and Morehouse Colleges and the resulting Take Back the Music conversation initiated by Essence Magazine. (Though some are wondering if Essence can remain an independent voice for black women now that it's been purchased by Time.)

A couple of weeks ago my mother and I accompanied my 17 year old niece to visit my grandmother. (My niece had a cool school assignment to interview someone who had lived through the Great Depression.) Later in the afternoon, I asked my niece if she was aware of the Take Back the Music movement. She wasn't (which leads me to wonder if the intended target audience is being reached) but she certainly is aware of the Tip Drill video. And I was delighted and so proud that she was as appalled by the video and much of the demeaning depictions of women in hip hop (and it's not just hip hop but that is what many, if not most, of the kids today listen to) as the women at Spelman. My niece went on a rant about how the values propagated in videos are leading girls she knows to call themselves tip drills and to back their thangs up and drop it like it's hot at eight years old. Yes, you read that right, EIGHT.

I'm all for lack of censorship and expecting parents to parent. My mom was horrified when I was listening to sex & drugs & rock & roll music in high school. She warned me not to come home from college with funny color hair - though when I did she thought I looked like a cute martian. But my parents and family did a great job of instilling values and a sense of self and self worth in me and so the music was just the music. But I wonder how girls today can resist what seems to be an onslaught of misogyny and pressure to be sexual at such a young age all in the name of "entertainment?"

I don't know that the music can be taken back. Yes I think hip hop started out in a very different place and much (not all) of it is not much more than a monetized commodity. But I don't think it ever belonged to the girls. At least, my niece gives me hope. And I'm glad some eggheads and around the way girls will be talking about it in Chicago.


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