Misogyny and hyper-masculinity are the trending themes in the hip-pop culture. In the music videos, women are sexually submissive to men and are expected to be scantily clad to gain the pleasure of man. The overwhelming amount of the offensive, insulting lyrics towards women is penetrating across the mainstream hip-pop music. The gender stereotype in hip-hop is rooted and is now being transplanted to a deeper soil.
When asked whether or not hip-hop targets kids more than movies, because the artists are seen as living the lifestyle that is rap about in an interview, 50 Cent, who is considered one of the top rappers, responded “No. No. The kids know the difference between entertainment and reality. If not, something’s the matter with that kid.” He goes on to explain “if that’s the case, then anything can influence anyone. Are they sticking to a script that our society portrays?” What 50 cent said seems ridiculous to me. The popularity and ubiquity of hip-hop music empower this genre to have impact on society and shape the perceptions of its views, let alone the kids. Consciously or unconsciously, some people are negatively affected by the sexual and violent depictions in the music and form misconceptions. But why does these stereotypical gender depictions continue to spring up in the mainstream hip-hop music while the artists themselves are aware of what they perform is against the social norm? Why can’t they instead make music that convey positive meanings?
The gender stereotype in mainstream hip-hop music is influenced by the masculinity present in hip-hop music in the past. The hip-pop music is male-dominated, and black male artists are the pillars of this immensely popular genre. Having gone through the racial discrimination and the life of the helpless, black male hip-hop artists felt the need to assert themselves and project a tough and invulnerable image. And music is the best platform for them to display the image of masculinity. The exaggerated masculinity present in the hip-pop music nowadays inherits and develops from the past demonstration of strong male image. Sexual dominance, roughness, violence, hitting the bottle, using drugs, all of which are considered virile by the definition of the hip-hop culture. Women are just sexy props around men. In other words, the subjugation of women bring out the masculinity of man. “The more women you are able to ‘dominate’ the higher your status is as a man and the more ‘masculine’ you are perceived as being.” That explains the scene repetitively occurring in the hottest hop-hop music videos, where a little number of men are surround by a group of sexually attractive women.
The business value the hyper-masculinity in hip-hop delivers is the one thing that cannot be ignored. “For years, rap has been taken hostage by an injurious ideology with little resistance from its practitioners. We’re beyond finger-pointing. All parties are complicit — the artists, the distribution companies, record labels, us.” It is not surprised to see a highly sexualized, profane and controversial hip-pop song get millions of hits on YouTube. Commercial exploitation is used to draw the attention of the crowd. The profit motive steers hip-pop to what it is now. The misogyny and hyper-masculinity in mainstream hip-pop music are the tools used to achieve popularity since “the songs that touch on the “softer” sides of male-female dynamics aren’t played on the radios and clubs, thus making these songs the least profitable of the bunch.”
Changes are needed for hip-hop music. Women need to be vested with more diverse gender roles. Roles that have character and dignity. Gender equality is the social norm and what the hip-hop music supposed to publicize. Misogyny and hyper-masculinity, for whatever reasons, are unacceptable to dominate to hip-pop culture.