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Open Access Publications from the University of California

“Who You Calling a Bitch?” Black Women’s Complicity and Production of Mass Media Hip Hop Misogyny

  • Author(s): Cheers, Imani M
  • et al.

Break-dancing, graffiti art, Djing and emceeing are the foundations of the international artistic phenomenon known as hip hop. What began as a local form of urban cultural expression by young African-American and Latino youth in South Bronx, New York, in the late 1970s, has become a mass media global sensation. In this context, mass media refers to television, video, film, radio, print and the Internet. While the foundations of this art form are rooted in social inequality and injustice, the current state of hip hop is in a crisis of sadistic contradictions. Today, the culture that I have been active in for two decades as a supporter (personal level) and producer (professional level) has betrayed me. Hip hop has evolved into a misogynistic culture filled with violent rhetoric and degrading images of black women. As a popular medium, hip hop has become a billion dollar industry. This paper asks (1) why do black women support and produce misogynistic images and the industry that creates these, and (2) how are concerned black women responding? This paper will examine published works by hip-hop feminist journalists, activists, and scholars who are critiquing this mass media genre from a black feminist thought perspective, questioning black women’s complicity and production of misogynistic representation of black women. Theoretically and methodologically, I will focus on black feminist thought as a component of critical social theory through a primary source literature review.

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