Rap music gained its hype in block parties in New York City in the 1970s and has become a staple part of culture in society today. Rap is literally defined as the recitation of lyrics over instrumental beats, but it has become a form of expression and art. Over the decades, this art has advanced as new artists rise to the top and take over the genre. However, as rap has become popularized in society, the explicit nature of lyrics that sexualize, objectify and romanticize women has become alarmingly normalized as well.
A Closer Look in the Industry’s Gender Gap
For decades, the genre of rap has lauded male artists while female performers struggle to succeed in the male-dominated industry. When over 6.7 million fans voted on a ranking of the “The Greatest Rappers of All Time,” only three of the top 100 rappers were female artists. Furthermore, in 2019 when rising female artist Saweetie earned her title on the Billboard Top 100 Chart, she was only the 7th woman to do so that year. Prior years saw even fewer women make this list: seven was the most number of women who had reached this achievement in a given year during the entire decade.
The overarching issue leading to women’s underrepresentation among “elite” rappers is the lack of representation of women across all major roles in the music industry, especially songwriting and producing. In a USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study, Professor Stacy L. Smith analyzed the artists of 700 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 year-end chart over the years 2012 to 2018. Professor Smith uncovered that across all seven years, 12.3 percent of songwriters were female, 21.7 percent of the artists were female and only 2 percent of producers across 400 songs were female. Most crucially, the producing side of the music industry has consistently lacked female representation. This male-dominated environment hinders women with a passion for music production, preventing them from reaching a high level of success and achieving their career goals. Even further, female artists are consistently put in positions of answering to male producers. As producers often have a high degree of creative control over music, these male producers’ ideas heavily influence the women’s songwriting. Professor Smith’s study corroborates this idea, concluding, “Women are shut out of two crucial creative roles in the music industry.”
Professor Smith went on to explain, “What the experiences of women reveal is that the biggest barrier they face is the way the music industry thinks about women,” adding, “The perception of women is highly stereotypical, sexualized and without skill. Until those core beliefs are altered, women will continue to face a roadblock as they navigate their careers.”
Moreover, the lack of representation of women in music does not end at rankings and top 100 charts; women are also underrepresented at award shows such as the Grammys. In 2019, Cardi B made history, becoming the first female rapper to earn the award of “Best Rap Album.” While this recognition was a step in the right direction, the 2020 Grammys quickly stifled the progress. With the exception of two female artists featured on a nominated album, no other female rapper was nominated for an award.
The Grammy nominations alongside other similar music award trends reflect the music industry’s bias against female artists. As Billboard explains, “It appears that every year, there is sheer confusion regarding the criteria for nominations in the rap categories. Are they determined by mainstream success and popularity? Is it skill? Content? If any of these are determining factors, female rappers check every box…” Though female rappers do meet these criteria, over 90 percent of all recent Grammy nominations were men: the inherent bias against women in a male-dominated industry prevents women from obtaining the recognition they deserve.
Even further, women are less likely to be signed to a record label. One record label owner and industry tycoon, Rick Ross, explained that he does not sign women to his record label because he is certain he would be sexually attracted to them. In an interview, he remarked, “You know, I never did it because I always thought, like, I would end up fucking a female rapper and fucking the business up… I’m so focused on my business. I just, I gotta be honest with you. You know, she looking good. I’m spending so much money on her photo shoots. I gotta fuck a couple times.”
The Male Rappers’ Portrayal of Women
The question then remains, in a male-dominated industry, where the so-called “greatest rappers of all time” are 97 percent men, why do so many rap songs sexualize women? Rap lyrics offensively and derogatorily call women “bitches,” “sluts,” “hoes,” “females” and romanticize a woman’s attraction to a lavish lifestyle, portraying wealth as a universal sex language.
All of these slurs, and more, are highly objectifying. Calling a woman a “bitch” likens her to a female dog, characterizes her as aggressive and annoying and casually ridicules her. The term “slut” nonchalantly criticizes what society views as promiscuous behavior or clothing, often a reason society blames women for being victims of rape. The derogatory term, “hoe,” has similar negative connotations. People generally use these terms to label women, not men, and portray them negatively. “Hoe” and “slut” embody society’s double-standards that scrutinize and judge a woman’s sexuality but praise a man’s. The impact of calling a woman a “female” holds similar weight, as the connotation of “female” implies that a woman can be considered for just her sexual traits while men, seldom referred to as “males,” are worth more.
How Misogynistic Rap Music Negatively Impacts the Portrayal of Women
I wrote this article because Savage Mode II, an album fans worldwide highly anticipated for four years by 21 Savage and Metro Boomin, was recently released. When I listened to it, I was shocked at what I heard. In just 15 songs, that one album said “pussy” 83 times, “bitch” 33 times and “hoe” 6 times. Though not all instances were directed at women, most were, and the words themselves stem from misogynistic roots, regardless of to whom they are applied. 21 Savage even identified a theme of “pussy and money” in the album. Although this is the first time I’ve ever explicitly counted the number of times women were objectified, Savage Mode II is just one of thousands that do the same. This album was a wakeup call, and it is surprising how numb society has become to such lyrics.
When analyzing rap music, researchers have found it is far more common for women to be portrayed in derogatory ways rather than as “independent, intelligent, enterprising, or superior to men.” Sexist rap music hinders the societal perception of women and their progress in modern society. When so casually overlooked, misogynistic lyrics reflect the rooted sexism in society. I’ve only come across a handful of articles that explicitly challenge sexism in rap music and the artists that use their wealth as justification for objectification, but this issue needs to be addressed.
Listen to the Lyrics – Why Does This Matter?
It is important to recognize that the message of this article does not apply to all rap music and rappers. Rap music is surrounded by culture, history, and vibrancy, especially within the Black community, that has united individuals through the expression of music. Rappers have used their lyrics to discuss world issues, such as Black Lives Matter (The Bigger Picture, Lil Baby), mental health (Suicidal Thoughts, The Notorious B.I.G.) and even the objectification of women (Keisha’s Song (Her Pain), Kendrick Lamar). Still, when so many rappers portray women as sexual objects who are overly attracted to the lavish lifestyles of successful male rappers, they reinforce a dangerous dehumanization of women.
The most powerful and influential artists connect with their listeners. Derogatory lyrics negatively impact how society views women and how women view themselves; these perceptions influence younger generations. Research indicates that an overall desire to be part of a popular group, such as rap music, can override young people’s concerns or questions about the negative messages. Studies show that such language stems from a social source that rap music reinforces. Moreover, degrading rap music influences younger listeners who are swayed to perceive women in the manner this music presents them. This portrayal has been found to impact how women value themselves and their overall self-esteem.
Ultimately, the current music industry is failing young girls and women, ostracizing them from the creativity, passion and unity that music brings by upholding an atmosphere of objectification, sexualization and underrepresentation. Be cautious of the music you listen to, the messages they embody and giving the ‘pass’ to your favorite artists. Although lyrics embody an artist’s intended message, many rappers design that message to cater to their listeners, and the larger music-loving community as a whole must hold artists accountable for what they choose to say.
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Feminist activism in hip hop is a feminist movement based by hip hop artists. The activism movement involves doing work in graffiti, break dancing, and hip hop music. Hip hop has a history of being a genre that sexually objectifies and disrespects women ranging from the usage of video vixens to explicit rap lyrics.Do women listen to rap music? ›
Men prefer electronic music, rap/hip-hop, blues, soul and jazz while women prefer blues, soul, jazz, reggae, electronic music and rap/hip-hop. Figures for the latter increased for both genders from 2014 to 2018, by 6% for men and 3% for women.What is it called when men dont like women? ›
Definitions. English and American dictionaries define misogyny as "hatred of women" and as "hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women".Why is modern rap so vulgar? ›
The reason so many rap songs tend to be entrenched in vulgarity is probably due to the culture that surrounds the artists that write them. Many of the most prevalent rappers came from low-income and high crime areas in which vulgarity is commonplace even amongst kids.What is the impact of hip hop on society? ›
Hip-hop has had an overwhelming influence on the Black community in America (as well as American society as a whole). Hip-hop is more than music; it's a full and vibrant culture. Since the 1980s, hip-hop has influenced and uplifted America, speaking up for generations and providing a voice to marginalized populations.What was the role of females in hip hop? ›
The rise of women in hip-hop started with the formation of girl groups. The first girls group was known as The Mercedes Ladies. The ladies played the role of throwing parties to the male artists (Veltre and Hadley 81). They could cook for the artists and males in different hip-hop band.What does it mean when a person is misogynist? ›
: a person who hates or discriminates against women : a misogynistic person. These comments attempt to cut much deeper, striking women at what misogynists see as their most valuable characteristics: appearance, sexual purity, sweetness and submissiveness.Does listening to rap affect behavior? ›
Results. Listening to rap music was significantly and positively associated with alcohol use, problematic alcohol use, illicit drug use, and aggressive behaviors when all other variables were controlled.What are the benefits of rap music? ›
Rap music is a freedom of expression. Its lyrical content flows like poetry and often tells a story. It gives people a chance to see life through the eyes of someone else.What is it called when a male likes a female? ›
So a gynephilic man is a man who likes women, that is, a heterosexual man, whereas an androphilic man is a man who likes men, that is, a gay man. For completeness, a lesbian is a gynephilic woman, a woman who likes other women.
A womanizer is someone who has multiple sexual encounters or relationships with more than one woman on a regular basis.What do you call someone who likes male and female? ›
Bisexual: Refers to an individual who has the capacity for attraction—sexually, romantically, emotionally, or otherwise—to people with the same, and to people with a different, gender and/or gender identity as themselves.Does rap have a negative impact on society? ›
According to a poll published by the Pew Research Center in 2008, more than 70 percent of Americans believed that rap had an overall negative impact on society. Some rap and hip-hop songs do indeed glamorize destructive behavior like substance abuse and violence.What are the negative effects of rap music? ›
According to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, many of the rap lyrics contribute to the suicide, violence, and inappropriate sexual content in lyrics that also influence and contribute to teens taking part in drugs and alcohol in a younger age.Is listening to rap healthy? ›
Most of you may wonder why rap music is good out of all the genres of music. A research conducted by Cambridge University has found that rap songs can trigger the parts of the brain that controls our emotion, motor function, nerve functions, language, and motivation.How does hip-hop and rap influence on society? ›
Hip hop connects with fundamental notions of identity and purpose, but it also influences the decisions young people make about their lives, lifestyles and health, according to Dr Travis. Every hip hop song or rap song contains something that we can learn something that can help us grow, Dr Crooke says.What does hip-hop symbolizes in the society? ›
Hip hop emerged as a reaction to the gang culture and violence of the South Bronx in the 1970s, and daily experiences of poverty, racism, exclusion, crime, violence, and neglect. It necessarily embodies and values resilience, understanding, community and social justice.What is the message of rap music? ›
Hip Hop believes that people can take control of their lives through self-knowledge and self-expression. Knowledge influences style and technique and connects its artists under a collective Hip Hop umbrella.Who was the first rap female? ›
Sharon Green (born 1962), considered the "first female rapper" or emcee, known by the rap moniker MC Sha-Rock. Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, she grew up in the South Bronx, New York City during the earliest years of hip hop culture.Who is the most successful female rapper in history? ›
1. Missy Elliott — With over 30 million records sold, this Virginia native is reportedly the top-selling female rapper of all time and deserves to someday be enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, alongside such fellow hip-hop heroes as Public Enemy and 2Pac.
Megan Thee Stallion is the current holder of the award, with her third win in 2022.What is a good sentence for misogynist? ›
He has been referred to as being a bit misogynist. Her social drive, connections and independent financial status attracted jealousy, misogynist outbursts and gossip. Gull is depicted as a misogynist who opposes women's suffrage, along with other progressive movements of his time.What's another word for misogyny? ›
1 Otto Weininger
Born in Austria in 1880, Otto Weininger published a controversial book entitled “Sex and Character” in 1903 that has often resulted in him being labeled a misogynist by academics discussing the work.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill looked at 125 of the most popular rap songs from 1998 to 2018 and found statistically significant increases in the proportion that contained a lyrical reference to suicide or suicidal ideation or to depression or depressive thinking.Can music influence your behavior negatively? ›
Research suggests music can influence us a lot. It can impact illness, depression, spending, productivity and our perception of the world. Some research has suggested it can increase aggressive thoughts, or encourage crime.How does music influence people's behavior? ›
Studies have shown that when people listen to music, their emotions fluctuate, and the effect is to change their behavior (Orr et al., 1998). Studies have shown that different languages, tempos, tones, and sound levels of music can cause different effects on emotions, mental activities, and physical reactions.What is rap music mostly about? ›
Rap songs are often known for their focus on controversial themes, such as gang violence. Often, however, musicians sing about a wide range of events and themes. They often express their political and social views, and they may discuss their own lives or even write love songs.What do you call a woman who likes a lot of men? ›
For a single word, consider the one in the definition: promiscuous.What is it called when you're attracted to anyone feminine? ›
Gynosexuality, sometimes spelled gynesexuality, describes someone who's attracted to femininity. That means a person of any gender can be attracted to someone who identifies as female or who expresses feminine characteristics.
"Adulterer" (or "adulteress") can be used for anyone who has a sexual relationship with a person who is married to another, but again does not always imply the specific social situational that "mistress" does.What do you call a guy who dates a younger woman? ›
Manthers are older men who pursue partners significantly younger than them.What do you call a guy that looks like a girl? ›
September 2022) Femboy (alternatively spelled femboi) is a modern slang term used to refer to a young person who identifies as male and who displays traditionally feminine characteristics, such as wearing dresses and skirts. (Fem/Femme instead of Femboy for trans women/non-binary gender individuals).What is the relationship between black feminism and hip hop? ›
Hip hop feminism is a sub-set of black feminism that centers on intersectional subject positions involving race and gender in a way that acknowledges the contradictions in being a black feminist, such as black women's enjoyment in hip hop music and culture, rather than simply focusing on the victimization of black ...What is the relationship between hip hop and social justice? ›
Hip hop artists have spoken out in their lyrics against perceived social injustices such as police brutality, poverty, mass incarceration, and the war on drugs. The relationship between hip hop music and social injustice can be seen most clearly in two subgenres of hip hop, gangsta rap and conscious rap.What does hip hop symbolize? ›
Hip hop emerged as a reaction to the gang culture and violence of the South Bronx in the 1970s, and daily experiences of poverty, racism, exclusion, crime, violence, and neglect. It necessarily embodies and values resilience, understanding, community and social justice.How does Beyonce represent feminism? ›
Through her fierce choreography, song lyrics, and artistic stage performance, she has emerged as an icon of feminism. Beyoncé has cultivated an image of strength and independence for women around the world and used it positively to encourage women to stand up for themselves.What is the main message and goal of hip-hop? ›
Hip Hop believes that people can take control of their lives through self-knowledge and self-expression. Knowledge influences style and technique and connects its artists under a collective Hip Hop umbrella.When did hip hop feminism start? ›
In 1999, the term “hip hop feminism” was first coined by Joan Morgan in her seminal work, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost.Who was the first woman in rap? ›
Sharon Green (born 1962), considered the "first female rapper" or emcee, known by the rap moniker MC Sha-Rock. Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, she grew up in the South Bronx, New York City during the earliest years of hip hop culture.
Hip hop connects with fundamental notions of identity and purpose, but it also influences the decisions young people make about their lives, lifestyles and health, according to Dr Travis. Every hip hop song or rap song contains something that we can learn something that can help us grow, Dr Crooke says.What rap songs talk about social issues? ›
- 'Azadi' by Divine.
- 'White America' by Eminem.
- 'Nazarbhattu Freestyle' by Seedhe Maut.
- 'Good Kid' by Kendrick Lamar.
- Changes by 2Pac.
- 'Mantoiyat' by Raftaar.
- 'High for Hours' by J. Cole.
- 'Kaisa Mera Desh' by KR$NA.
Hip hop is a vehicle for spreading awareness on social issues by making those issues more well-known to the audience. The artists express their opinions about the different social issues in their lyrics, which can echo throughout a community and cause positive change.How does rap music affect your behavior? ›
Results demonstrated that listeners of the aggressive rap music scored significantly higher in the dimension of verbal aggression. These findings suggest that aggressive music can make listeners more aggressive emotionally compared to other types of music.What are the positive effects of rap music? ›
Conclusion: The influence of rap music until present day has been strictly positive as it provides an alternative to violence, drug use, and gang activity for Black American youth growing up in the inner city as well as a resource for understanding the discriminatory world they live in.Does rap music have an effect on youth? ›
According to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, many of the rap lyrics contribute to the suicide, violence, and inappropriate sexual content in lyrics that also influence and contribute to teens taking part in drugs and alcohol in a younger age.Is Billie Eilish feminist? ›
Billie Eilish continues to push feminist themes in modern pop with her latest single Your Power. Eilish has always championed marginalised people and feminist themes indirectly with her powerful creativity and strong voice.Is Miley Cyrus feminist? ›
Miley Cyrus is proudly feminist and committed to the rights of the LGBT+ community (which she is a member of). In the music video for Mother's Daughter, she celebrates the diversity of women's bodies, from white cis-gender women like her mother to transgender African-American women in wheelchairs or overweight women.Is Angelina Jolie a feminist? ›
Angelina Jolie Says Feminism Is About 'Equality' And 'The Freedom To Make Our Own Choices' Angelina Jolie does not believe feminism should come at the expense of men. The actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian spoke on the topic of feminism and femininity in a Q&A with perfume line Mon Guerlain.