Hip-Hop, Religion and the Subjection of Women

August 15, 2007 at 1:50 pm 1 comment

BlameWhere should the finger point when blame is being distributed for the subjection of women? Surely there is someone to hold culpable for such an archaic view against half of the world’s population.

Do we blame the men who hold to these views? Yes, of course. However, the truth is that they are only acting on what they have been socialized to consider acceptable since there are aspects of society which continues to promote the second-class position of women.

Should we blame hip-hop music, which objectifies women? I recently heard a radio interview with a Georgetown University Professor and author, Michael Eric Dyson, who spoke on this subject. Dyson maintained that hip hop has been extremely seductive in that it promotes the idea that the only place for women, especially black women, in the political economy of sex globally is as a hoochie mama and a slut whose “role is to service the masculine, especially the heterosexual male crotch.”

Hip-hop has certainly colluded with the mentality of female objectification – much like beauty pageants, pornography and girls gone wild videos. However, this music is only a couple decades old and we all know that misogyny has been around for thousands of years.

Perhaps we should blame the legislators for not going to greater lengths to ensure women have equal rights. Certainly all of these factors play a role in the perception of women today.

However, all of these factors such as sexist hip-hop lyrics and videos, pornography, lack of proper legislation to ensure women enjoy the same rights and privileges of their male counterparts, are no more than symptoms of the larger malady that has a very strong hold in so many nations today.

Obviously, there is a greater work in play here that must be recognized for its part in misogynistic socialization. I have known the answer for quite some time and it seems others are seeing the light as well. The author I mentioned before from an interview went on to talk about what he sees as the primary promoter of sexism.

Dyson said he has suggested to

“the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton instead of in the aftermath of Imus protesting record companies, how about smashing the sermons of some of those preachers who stand up in church on Sunday mornings in Black America, 75 – 80 percent of those churches are attended by black women, the minister is not calling them the b-word or the h or a skeezer or slut, but he is reinforcing a gospel that subordinates them to the interest of men and therefore he is much more seductive, he’s got a bigger pulpit, he’s got a bigger platform, and he’s got god on his side. Snoop Dog never claimed to be Jesus in rap form, but many of the ministers claim to be god’s representatives on earth and the message from the minister is god wants you to be a second class citizen because men should run stuff.”


I know there are times when religion helps people. For example, I have a very good friend who is going through a nasty divorce and is relying on strength from her god more than at any other time in her life to get through this difficult time. I do not discourage her faith because there have been times when I have needed a higher power in my life too.

I would rather see her stand on her own two feet and realize she has the strength to get through this on her own, but she hasn’t the resolve at this point in her life. So she turns to religion and finds comfort and strength in her faith.

What she does not realize is it is that same religion that gave her husband the right to think he could do anything he wanted to do regardless of her feelings or his responsibilities. In short, this religion to which she now clings is actually the very instigator of her problems.

Her husband maintains that men work, that’s what they do and justifies his excessive travel away from the family, which leaves all of the house duties and child rearing to the woman. If this is what the husband wants, religion teaches that it is acceptable and if the wife protests then she should be taken in hand.

The wife is reduced to nothing more than a slave, and she had better be a submissive slave or she will pay for her rebellion. God forbid that she protest anything, which is what my friend did and now finds herself in a divorce – something she never dreamed would happen to her.

The fact is that women are just as capable of working outside of the home and there are many who would rather have a career than to clean, cook and care for others their whole life. At this transitional point in history, far too many women do both – careers and home – with little help or support from their husbands.

As long as women are subordinated to the interests of men by the same higher power to whom they run for strength to deal with the intolerable situation created by that higher power, they will never find an end to their suffering. This is a never-ending circle of sexism.

It is time for women to realize they have the strength to rise above the sexist socialization that is instilled in us from the cradle and incessantly reinforced via multiple conduits all around us for our entire lives. Could it be that this is where blame should be laid for subjection of women – at the doors of our places of worship?

Entry filed under: feminism, feminist, misogyny, Stella Ramsaroop, women, women's issues. Tags: , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. gotheek  |  September 21, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    It’s easier for the religious types to point the finger than to clean their own home (ironically enough).

    And as for rap lyrics, it’s a constant amazement to me that these overt and visibly mysogynistic peddlers of repression (I won’t honour ANY of them by calling them “Artists”) get to continue unabated.

    And it’s not just the lyrics – which are jaw-droppingly appalling. It’s also the video-clips.

    And when you have people like Justin Timberlake jumping onto the bandwagon singing about ‘Technology” with another rap artist when they’re talking about “Pornography”, I scratch my head and wonder who it is that is actually promoting this shite.

    Because in our market-driven economy, promotion = sales = cash. Find the people promoting this stuff and making money and you find the root of it all.

    Rap artists are popular and allowed to promote hatred and the repression of women (and minorities) simply because it’s making someone a ton of cash.

    So, we are slaves after all. Funny how the world turns isn’t it?

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