The Good Mix of Feminism and Music

Despite my last article, I must profess to being neither an anti-feminist nor a feminist. I simply seek to inform meaningful cultural dialogue on issue. While I encourage both feminists and anti-feminists to continue forward, this piece specifically targets the undecided person, the one who has heard both good and bad things about feminism and seeks to understand the diversity within this broad school of thought.

While people  often mischaracterize feminism as angry and man-hating, the explanations offered for why this stereotype exists only serve to further promote rather than abolish the misconception. Articles blaming men for the marketing and branding ills of the feminist movement prove counterproductive in debunking the idea that feminists blame men for virtually everything.

However, not all feminists shame and undermine themselves in arguments and actions. Hip hop feminism is one sub-field which seeks neither semi-satirical misandry nor fruitless ambiguity. Instead, scholar Aisha S. Durham’s Home with Hip Hop Feminism defines hip hop feminism as productively complementary and “in conversation with feminist studies, hip-hop studies and media and culture feminist studies and media and cultural studies.” When considering the feminist study of a traditionally masculine space like hip hop, it is important to note how these hip hop feminist writers and scholars classify the men which they—at least indirectly—observe and analyze.

Writer Joan Morgan—whose book When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost  coined the term hip hop feminism—constructs a sympathetic group archetype of “ENDANGEREDBLACKMEN” who face the burdens of life without sufficient appreciation from women and require unity with women in healing the mutually damaging scars of historic oppression and struggle.

Similarly, academic Gwendolyn D. Pough’s Check It While I Wreck It builds on the hip hop feminist literature through a collaborative and introspective approach to analyzing anti-feminist discourse in hip hop, while also placing more blame on women for—at least complicity in—their own marginalization within hip hop culture.

When writer and Editor Akoto Ofori-Atta warned against the prospects of hip hop feminism “being reduced to an anti-misogyny movement or to a rallying cry to give more female MCs the mic,” it becomes clear that the movement seeks to create spaces for women alongside men rather than in the place of or above men.

While hip hop feminism is not likely to be entirely free from bad apples, prospects of bridging hip-hop’s gender divide and repairing its misogynistic reputation provide many opportunities for feminist and anti-feminist unity.  If feminism is to survive into the millennial and post-millennial generations, it must do so through unity and without the ambiguity.

Randy Loayza is a political, social and cultural thinker, writer and commentator. He is also an undergraduate of Cornell University within the Department of Government.

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