By Zettler Clay
There’s a reason why prostitution is considered the world’s oldest profession. The practice of men as the pimps who put women on the stroll to make money, and then bring it back is as original as paint. It is an underground activity in the United States that many women of esteem separate themselves from as far as they can. Yet the message of male dominance continues to dominate the atmosphere of Western civilization. It has even reached the point of rappers brazenly stating their disdain for women doing anything other than satiating them sexually or monetarily. There’s no need in mentioning the lyrics here; just check the CD in closest proximity to you.
Very few question the affect of such messages on heterosexual relationships, or the lack thereof. Riddle me this: If I am busy diminishing the value of women, would that make me disinclined to want to pursue a meaningful relationship with them? If women can’t be anything more than an object of lust to me, then how far will my limits extend to satisfy my lust? Too often, songs are just shy of drunken soliloquies between sex-crazed, hurt insecure men. Women artists have even been drawn into the act, flipping societal conventions on its head by usurping the guy’s “role” as the head breadwinner and hustler – which is no surprise; when allowed, women have always proven themselves adept at high-income white collar labor – and even the sex-crazed queen.
Male hegemony has taken its toll on the perception of homosexuality as well, with the common notion that gayness is for the “feminine-acting.” Rappers, action-movie actors and athletes aren’t expected to be gay because they participate in “manly” endeavors. But E. Lynn Harris and other authors have also turned that generalization on its head, decrying covertly gay brothers with hardened exteriors. Now there’s this nagging thought that nobody is safe from such assumptions. But still there are a few people that get a pass.
I wonder why.
We have a nation of people so busy arguing about why homosexuality is wrong but will quickly dismiss the thought of their favorite entertainer being gay. This type of thinking is baffling, considering the lengths many men in public go to prove how unimportant women are to them. So again I ask: Is there a correlation between the level of misogyny in lyrics and the attraction between sexes? Is hyper masculinity a mask for closet proclivities (The rapper doth protest too much, methinks)?
Many black men enjoy the denigration of the opposite sex because it reinforces male dominance in a world in which black women are surpassing them in the financial sector. But maybe it is also enjoyable because a significant amount of black men no longer feel the high-esteemed black woman is necessary. The “Homies Over Hoes” type songs should bring more pause to its listeners than it does. Women need to continue to hold their men accountable in their messages as well. Men should be dubious when they hear all the “f— bi—–“ in a record. Exploiting women for money is one thing (not something I support), but flat out rendering women useless is another. It’s gotten to the point where one really has to question the reason for the enmity. But this all could be my imagination.
It’s not like I’ve seen rappers kissing or anything.
For more on homophobia and gender politics in hip-hop, watch “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes” on blackpublicmedia.org.