Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lupe Fiasco's "Bitch Bad"- Challenging the Objectification Of Women In Rap Music

Lupe Fiasco's "Bitch Bad" conveys how powerful images that are depicted in the media have effect on society. In the music industry, especially in rap music, there is a strong use of the word 'bitch' and the objectification of females bodies.  The repeated use of the word has been accepted as the norm and the word is constantly used in our dialects. It is obvious that sex sells in the entertainment industry, but how does this effect the younger generation who watch these depictions of women? Fiasco states (see lyrics below), how this term has becomes ingrained at a young age as something as the norm. We seek entertainment as a form of escape and look-up to entertainers. But at what cost is this affecting young girls in our generation? 

Until that intelligence meets their favorite singer's preference." 

The Sociological Cinemadiscusses how the video's content embodies Freud's Madonna-Whore Complex in how men will either view women as promiscuous or saints. From my perspective, I think the lyrics try to address how the media primarily represents women as the whore and rarely the Madonna. How many music videos and movies show women as scantily clad, at the hands of violence, and much more? The Huffington Post Canada elaborates on how Fiasco used Freud's concept in the video. The article discusses how the boy identifies the word 'bitch' because his mother says she is, but is referring to herself a strong independent women. When the video cuts to the girls watching a music video, it shows how they view the term by watching a rap video where women are depicted as submitting to men and barely wearing anything. "But it's the contrast between how the two children interpret the work 'bitch' the delivers the true surprise--while the boy seems to associate it with the strong role model of his mother, the girls, on the other hand, attribute the term to an overly sexualized male fantasy that they later try to emulate." I can remember as a young girl reading Seventeen Magazine and seeing these advertisements of girls that were tall, thin and dressed in the latest fashions. Furthermore,  I remembered in the 90's there was a big trend of supermodels that looked as what was described as 'herion chic', in that these women walking down the runway looked like they were starving themselves or were on drugs. At a young age, girls absorb these images in the media as a depiction of what girls are supposed to look like and act. I remember questioning myself, "Okay is this how I am supposed to look like?" 

PBS' series The Independent Lens, released a documentary Hip Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes by, Byron Hurt, which discusses the negative issues in hip-hop. Note, the documentary isn't available to watch on line, but there some great information on the history of hip-hop and the social issues that are apparent in the music genre. Information about the documentary provides commentary from actresses Sarah Fox on how these images are stereotypical and demeaning, "And the idea is, these men are so important and so powerful, and these women conversely are so dime a dozen...that they don't matter, they're just eye candy, they're worthless." 

Now I want to be honest, do I think that the use of 'bitch' and the objectification of women in rap music is going to stop anytime soon? Unfortunately, I don't think it will, but it still doesn't make it okay. I think this Lupe Fiasco's music video has something to say about how the media depicts women and how we continue to use this word in so many different contexts. I think its important with songs like these that bring to way a social discussion about how women are depicted in the media. Additionally, its important that parents  encourage young girls that being strong, confident, educated and live a healthy life is the most powerful thing a girl can do in this generation. 

The following video from Hip Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes is great clip from the documentary, but at 3:00 the clip discusses the use of the word 'bitch' and objectification of women.

Resources: Lupe Fiasco, The Sociological Cinema, Wikipedia, Huffington Post, Hip Hop- Beyond Beats and Rhymes

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