Sunday, November 18, 2007

Politically Correct Anti-Rape Feminists Refuse to Condemn Rap Music

We recently blogged on a forum at Marquette were the usual politically correct leftist professors discussed the issue of rape, and said a variety of bizarre things.

But one of the most bizarre came when we decided to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings during the question and answer period at the end.

The panel had been fussing and fuming about the evils of “hypermasculinity” and “objectifying” women.

So we asked them: “will you therefore condemn rap music.”

Members of the panel said they would not. We put it to them that rap music thrives on “hypermasculinity” and “objectifying” women.

They said that rock and roll does that too.

We replied that content analysis shows that rap music does that a lot more than other genres. They blew it off.

But the facts aren’t hard to ascertain. From a new study by Brian A. Primack of the Medical School of the University of Pittsburgh.
Background: Adolescents are exposed to 104 minutes of popular music daily, and sexual content is highly prevalent in popular music lyrics.

Methods: Two independent coders analyzed references to sex and degrading sex in the top songs of 2005 in various genres according to Billboard magazine. We simultaneously conducted a cross-sectional survey of 302 urban ninth grade students in which we measured sexual experience, genre preference, and fourteen covariates related to sexual experience in adolescents.

Results: References to sexual intercourse were most common in Rap music (83%), followed by R&B/Hip-Hop (56%) and Rock music (7%). References to degrading sex were also most common in Rap music (76%) followed by R&B/Hip-Hop (41%) and Rock music (3%). In the fully adjusted and trimmed model (covariates included gender, age, race, socioeconomic status, rebelliousness, academic achievement, and desire to lose weight), preference of Rap music was associated with increased odds of having had sexual intercourse . . . whereas preference of Rock music was associated with decreased odds . . . . Preference of R&B/Hip-Hop was not associated with increased or decreased odds of having had sexual intercourse.

Discussion: Preference of musical genre is independently associated with early sexual experience in adolescents. In particular, those preferring genres with more sexual references are more likely to have had sex.
We doubt that panel members objected to ninth graders having sex, but shouldn’t they have been disturbed by the fact that 76% of rap songs had references to degrading sex?

Of course, it goes beyond sex. From the abstract of another paper from the same project:
Objective: To perform a comprehensive content analysis of substances of abuse in contemporary popular music.

Design: We analyzed the 279 most popular songs of 2005 according to Billboard magazine. Two coders working independently used a standardized data collection instrument to code portrayal of substances of abuse.

Outcome Measures: Presence and explicit use of substances of abuse, and motivations for, associations with, and consequences of substance use.

Results: Ninety-three (33.3%) of the 279 songs portrayed substance use, with an average of 35.2 substance references per song-hour. Portrayal of substance use varied significantly by genre, with one or more references in 9% of pop, 14% of rock, 20% of R&B/hip-hop, 37% of country, and 77% of rap. While only 2.9% of songs portrayed tobacco use, 23.7% depicted alcohol, 13.6% marijuana, and 11.5% other or unspecified substances. Substance use was most often motivated by peer/social pressure (48%) or sex (30%). Use was commonly associated with partying (54%), sex (46%), violence (29%), and/or humor (24%). Only 4 songs (4%) contained explicit anti-use messages and none portrayed substance refusal. The majority of songs (68%) with substance use portrayed more positive than negative consequences; these positive consequences were most commonly social, sexual, financial, or emotional.
So it seems that drugs and sex don’t particularly go with rock and roll, but they do go with rap.

If panel members were somehow ignorant of this reality, their response might be understandable.

But panel member Ed de St. Aubin knew of content analyses showing exactly what percentage of rape victims in porno films are portrayed as having an orgasm!

What’s going on here?

Simple. Feminists aren’t particularly “pro-woman.” If they were, they would be much more forthright condemning rap music. They would also be forthright in condemning the way fundamentalist Islam treats women. And they would also have objected to the way Bill Clinton treated women.

But they aren’t really “pro-woman.” They are leftists, and condemning anything coming from the black community is verboten.


A feminist source of ours points out that there is plenty of feminist writing condemning the treatment of women and sex in rap music.

Indeed, videos taking this exact tact can be found in Raynor Library.

This same source, however, points out that the intersection of race and gender can get pretty dicey, and politically correct people (our source didn’t use that term) are cross-pressured when the two clash head-to-head.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take exception to several points made in this particular blog.

First of all, I find the black-and-white argument that all feminists must be against rap music in order to be "pro-woman" feminists to be over-simple and ill thought-out. As several of the panelists mentioned (although this was not included in your post), there are many feminist hip-hop and rap artists out there, including Sarah Jones and Joan Morgan. To condemn rap or hip-hop casually is to deny the worth of some very politically-astute musicians and poets who work within the genre.

While it is true that rap music perhaps includes more sexually-degrading lyrics than other genres (although I am not sure how Brian Primack came up with his numbers--they seem to be skewed to me, and I only found a copy of his abstract on your link, not a systematic explanation of his data collection), then it is those particular images which should be discussed, not the entire genre itself. After all, there is a distinction between gangsta rap, party rap, and even Christian rap. The panel very clearly articulated this difference, and were even open to the idea of critiquing certain misogynistic images contained in certain segments of rap music.

It seems to me that their unwillingness to condemn the rap genre came from their thoughtfulness and their knowledge of how genres function rather than political correctness.

While the statistics which show that students who listen to degrading lyrics are more likely to be sexually active at a young age are disturbing (if they are accurate--again, I have my doubts), this strikes me more as a product of a hypermasculinized rape culture as opposed to a direct cause-effect relationship between music and sexual habits. The students who believe that misogyny is acceptable (due to a variety of stereotypes, media images, and cultural practices which go above and beyond music) will be more likely to buy and listen to sexually-degrading music and engage in potentially harmful sexual behaviors.

It seems to me that the prevalence of misogynistic lyrics should be blamed on the American public who buy and support misogynistic rap artists (as opposed to feminist/political/benign party rap artists), rather than accusing a particular racial demographic. As you are probably aware, the majority of those who listen to and support rap are white. Clearly, this is evidence of a nationwide acceptance of rape culture, not a music problem, or a "black community" problem.

12:52 AM  
Blogger M.E. said...

You've identified it exactly, John. They are leftists. You could also add that if they really cared for women, they would also be pro-life. But of course that doesn't fit the leftist agenda, either.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous rc said...

Anon - seriously, get a grip. The study was regarding songs that were "hits" (i.e. - the ones everyone was listening to). So yes - popular rap is incredibly degrading to women.

As a successful woman navigating this world for several decades, the issues are not where the current "feminists" believe them to be.

Get a real cause for women's rights. If you want to fight the mysogynistic rape culture how about standing up for women's rights in Islamic/Sharia law.

Why are the "feminists" silent on a 13 year old being stoned to death in Iran after being raped by her brother and becoming pregnant. He expressed remorse and was absolved btw. Or the female genital mutilation that is prevalent in many Islamic countries. Or honor killings.. the list goes on ad nauseum.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anon, for your post and the ability to make the important distinction between condemning a genre and condemning specific pieces which contain degrading lyrics. To rc: I was at the panel, and Dr McAdams did not ask the panelists to condemn "popular rap" but "the rap music" as a complete entity.

I'm also confused why this is entitled "Anti-Rape Feminists" like that is some sort of condemning insult. I'm pretty proud to be an anti-rape feminist.

12:23 AM  
Anonymous evil_olive said...

Thank you anonymous, quite eloquently stated, especially when it so hard to focus one's thoughts when they are so jumbled by a post so wrought with inaccuracies, generalizations, and blatant ignorance. I find it important to vehemently argue against the statement that rap music is a "black community" problem. Again, thank you Anon. for noting that the majority of consumers are white adolescents. But let's back up even further and think, who is disseminating this misogynistic music? I'd guess that most top music execs are indeed not black, but even if they were, you're "argument" would still not hold. Your accusitions, John, are very surface and don't look at the entire picture and the interplay at hand between top execs, rap artists, the public, and consumers. There's a lot of deeper issues here which you neglect to include in your thought process. And tis a shame, really.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one silly piece of blogging. Anon and evil_olive are right that it is astonishingly simple-minded to claim that the black community is responsible for rap music. But even setting that aside, it is completely puzzling why a leftist should be prohibited from condemning something from a minority group. McAdams is a political science professor and so maybe he has some sort of technical definition of “leftist” that entails the idea that leftists cannot criticize anything about another culture. If so, he should probably share it with us. (And while he’s at it, an explanation of what he thinks “feminism” means would be helpful, since I think he has a straw man version of the view in mind.) He also does not provide one shred of evidence that his explanation for the panel's refusal to single out rap music for condemnation is correct. And when his “feminist source” points out that his explanation cannot be correct, he has absolutely no response. (By the way, I find the idea of a “feminist source” very cute. It conjures up an imagine of McAdams in a parking structure in the middle of the night waiting for his “source” to come out of the shadows and give him some vital feminist information.)

The problem is that whenever McAdams blogs on feminism, he seems to make the startlingly clueless (especially for a political science professor) assumption that all feminists are in complete agreement about every issue, and that there is one unified feminist movement. (RC seems to suffer from the same problem when she says “Why are “feminists” quiet about ….”, as if there is a feminist newspaper that we can look to for the official party line. By the way, RC, a quick Google search reveals that there is actually a great deal of feminist condemnation of Sharia Law’s treatment of women.)

The results of McAdams’ oversimplification of the facts are straw man arguments and silly proclamations such as: “feminists are man-haters.”

Yep, pure silliness. Way to forward the debate about violence towards women.

3:28 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

I would say it’s nice that you feminists want to differentiate between different kinds of rap.

But you refuse to make other kinds of distinctions. You won’t limit your condemnation of rape to actual rapists, but in a very prudish way claim that men who “objectify” women are really the same as rapists.

Remember, one of the panelists rejected the notion that rape is “merely aberrant, deviant behavior,” and told the male members of the audience “you are living in the rape culture.” Where? “On Campus. In the bars.”

What kind of sweeping, absurd comment is this?

But a “rape culture” doesn’t exist in rap?

As for white kids buying rap, and white record company executives being responsible for rap, that’s true -- although proportinally fewer white than black kids listen to rap.

But rap is perceived as a “black thing,” which is why you folks are so defensive about it.

Your racial political correctness runs right up against your feminist political correctness, and your message gets muddled.

And "anon." (why don’t you post under your real name), I never said that all feminists think alike.

I did say that certainly strains of thought are very common among feminists, and they are pretty virulent.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I never said that all feminists think alike."

And I didn't say you did. What I said is you write as if that is your assumption. Want some evidence? (These are all from the first posting on the feminism event):

"In the world of the feminists, the villains are the white males."

"The answer the feminists give is: you have to embrace our entire political agenda or you are a rapist."

"The feminist [sic] who deny it aren’t lying. They don’t think they are man haters, they just think they are working for “gender equality.” This last quote of course implies that they are all man-haters, since the ones that don't deny it presumably do hate men.

And by the way, what the h*ll is this: "But then, the average Klansman would probably insist he has “nothing against Negros.”

Ad hominem much? I love it when you get all upset about the mean liberal bloggers and then come across you comparing feminists to Klansman. Again, nice job forwarding the debate.

p.s. There is more than one Anon here, just so you know.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous evil_olive said...

“But you refuse to make other kinds of distinctions. You won’t limit your condemnation of rape to actual rapists, but in a very prudish way claim that men who “objectify” women are really the same as rapists.”

So at least we can agree that actual rapists are to be condemned? I wouldn’t be surprised if you attempted to argue against that point…

I don’t know where you make the jump from men who objectify (why do you put that term in quotes??) women being THE SAME as rapists. Obviously they are not “the same,” (at least legally) but when you are looking at a societal problem and working to eradicate it, it is necessary to look at the root causes and beliefs and attitudes that foster an environment where rape occurs and even more, where it is often trivialized or joked about. (Not to mention the numerous rape myths that perpetuate a rape culture) The argument here is that objectification and misogyny being acceptable in mainstream culture only provides for a culture where rape is more acceptable. It is important to look at these root causes if we really want to get rid of a problem. So in that sense, we should work to condemn misogynistic practices just as much as we should work to condemn actual rapists. In fact, I’d argue that addressing the issues of objectification and sexism is more important because it works as a primary prevention tactic to rape while simply condemning rapists works after the fact.

“But a “rape culture” doesn’t exist in rap?”

You really must qualify your statements, Dr. M. Rape culture functions within a society at large. You don’t pick and choose what “has” rape culture. Rape Culture is there, and is created by the attitudes, beliefs, and actions that sustain it. If you want to focus it on music and then even further on “rap music,” then you must describe what rap music you are talking about. “Rap” does not come with anything inherent except for the style of music—which I do not think that simply any spoken rhymes set to music constitutes a rape culture. What constitutes a rape culture is rap music that is misogynistic, demeaning, and objectifies women. I’m pretty sure we agree on this fact, but you wish to continue to further stunt discussion and generalize a style of music. Of course, most of the rap music we hear is this demeaning kind. We know that. And I would say that is a damn shame. There is much more positive things out there to be listening to. But just arguing this fact is useless. I’d love for you to question why this is the type of music that is both supplied and demanded (and WHO is really supplying and demanding it?) What kind of culture do we live in, eh, where music that demeans and objectifies women is the norm and is popular? I’ll give you a hint; it starts with R and rhymes with APE.

“But rap is perceived as a “black thing,” which is why you folks are so defensive about it.”

And Rock and Roll is a “white thing” which is why NO ONE condemns that… Think about it. Feminists and Leftists (using your labels) would condemn anything that promotes sexist language and behaviors. End of story.

9:02 PM  

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