theGrio’s commentary misses the mark

A tweet from theGrio (@theGrio on Twitter) got my attention as it featured Goldie Taylor’s take on Ashley Judd’s message about hip-hop acting as a conduit of rape culture. Intrigued, I clicked on the link and proceeded to read the article. Part of me was excited because I thought, “Finally, a commentary that will get it right for a change.”

Needless to say, I was thoroughly disappointed and frustrated with the hastily written commentary by the author. The headline of the article is misleading as readers will believe Taylor is about to tackle rape culture throughout hip-hop and rap songs and lyrics.

What the article does is go into Taylor’s love affair with the early days of rap and rehashes the tired and true debate about popular hip-hop and rap’s music and artists’ affects on the psychological development of young boys and girls. She goes into the same hypersexualized and misogynistic lyrics and their effects on the attitudes and mores of the boys and girls, men and women who listen to popular hip-hop and rap music.

Taylor refused to even address rape culture and its pervasive hold it has on society, including popular hip-hop and rap music. Instead, we get this paragraph:

We may not like the message and may well regard and disregard the messenger as not “one of us”. But, without question, hip-hop has changed. And no matter how much we celebrate a young (mostly) brother’s right to produce and get paid for his music, we cannot be so blind as not to recognize the resulting damage. There are women in the game tooThe carnage left by their willing participation in the now fantastical world of instant gratification is maddening. It’s us dancing in rhinestone-studded thongs talking about “if you ain’t got dough, you can’t go with the Fox b$#&h” while tricking off every ounce of our dignity for a brief ride in a Bentley coup.

Taylor’s use of the old “women are part of the problem, too” argument and her subsequent proposal for black women to “dry up” the demand to use our image in a derogatory manner is the same argument that continues to place responsibility of a black woman’s image on the black woman, not the male dominated hip-hop and rap industry that continues to use and abuse the black female image. In a nutshell, black women allow their bodies and their images to be used and abused by the industry and it’s our responsibility to take back our bodies, according to Taylor.

While that’s fine and dandy, Taylor’s argument is unrealistic as black women are a minority in the black male-dominated rap and hip-hop industry. Black women do not have the bargaining power and prestige men have in the industry. They don’t own the majority of the record labels, write the majority of the songs and direct the majority of the music videos. Even black people don’t even make up the majority of consumers of hip-hop and rap lyrics. Exactly how are black women supposed to take control of our image if we don’t even control a sizable portion of the industry?

Here’s the problem with Taylor’s argument: it shifts the blame from the male-dominated industry to black women, which is exactly what rape culture does when it comes to the prevention of rape. Her refusal to even discuss rape culture demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about rape culture and its detrimental effects on the black community. She refused to discuss how many in our community will rally around a rapist and lay the blame at the feet of the victim. She refused to discuss the objectification of women in the hip-hop industry and how it leads to the dehumanization and subjugation of women, all of which are needed in order for rape culture to take shape and which I reiterated in my post, defending Ashley Judd’s message.

It’s truly disappointing Taylor would even deduce her commentary by pointing to the women shaking their asses thongs as part of the problem with hip-hop. Yes, there are black women who perpetuate the stereotype just as there are women who perpetuate the tenants of rape culture.

The problem with that thinking is it completely ignores the male-dominated hip-hop and rap industry’s dissemination of its standards of the desired black woman. It completely ignores the fact that the hip-hop and rap industries communicate to its listeners that black women have to shake her ass in a thong in order to garner attention and respect by the male artists they idolize. It completely ignores the black male dominated industry’s promotion of our image as a gold digging, thong wearing ho as the idealized black woman. It completely ignores the negative, hypersexualized images black women and girls are bombarded with on a daily basis, thus indoctrinating them with the idea they have to act like the Video Hos in order to get respect and recognition from their brothas.

The responsibility of eradicating rape culture’s prevalence in popular hip-hop and rap songs can not be left solely to the consumers. The hip-hop and rap industry as a whole will need to re-evaluate its message they want to send to society about black men and women. In the end, hip hop and rap’s black men and boys will have to no longer accept misogyny, homophobia and rape culture to pass as entertainment.