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Column: Feminist guide to enjoying rap music

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Lita Bush

Much of popular contemporary rap features misogyny and has for decades. An analysis of 490 gangsta rap songs produced from 1987 to 1993 revealed that 22 percent of the songs featured misogynistic lyrics, according to the Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture – specifically, referencing assault, rape and murder – but they’re so dang catchy!

How does a feminist reconcile his or her belief in gender equality with an unjustifiable love of oft-misogynistic rap music? The good news is, it’s possible to do without giving up rap entirely.

But hold up, feminist? Aren’t feminists crazy man-hating lesbians? Nah. People of all genders, sexual orientations and dispositions can be feminists. It’s real trendy these days – even li’l baby T-Sweezy (that’s Taylor Swift, to y’all not in the know) recently became indoctrinated in the Church of Feminism (not a real church).

Nowadays, a feminist is just a person who believes that no one is better than anyone else because of what body parts a person has. However, for those still uncomfortable with the F-word, I’ve taken the liberty of providing an alternate term with the same denotation: rational human.

As a feminist and/or rational human, you disapprove of misogyny, but say you also have a deep, abiding passion for rap – what’s to be done about the resulting cognitive dissonance? Here are some tips for guilt-free rap appreciation.

- Consider all derogatory terms used to describe women to be gender neutral. Men can be bitches and hoes. Easily.

- Realize that male rappers who rap about violence against women are really just baby boys expressing their deep-seated mommy issues through misdirected anger toward all women. Shhhh, Eminem. It’s okay now.

- Realize that rappers who objectify women are simply expressing their appreciation for the female form through the only means they know how: crass, yet somehow generic analogies comparing female anatomy to cars or baked goods.

- Seek out rap that isn’t misogynistic. It exists! Check out Common, Yo-Yo, Lupe Fiasco, Queen Latifah, Talib Kweli, Salt-N-Pepa, Yasiin Bey, Lauryn Hill, MC Lyte, The Roots and Silvana Imam. (Quick personal aside: Does anyone want to form a feminist rap crew with me? I’m open to name suggestions but partial to Pap Shmear.)

- Don’t feel guilty about your love of rap! Don’t apologize for it! Enjoying rap doesn’t make you a bad feminist, and aspiring to absolute gender equality shouldn’t put a damper on your musical enjoyment. Even T-Sweezy knows that feminism is about doing whatever is right for you and not being limited by your gender.


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