One of three reports written for the feminist newsjournal off our backs covering the Pornography and Pop Culture: Reframing Theory, Rethinking Activism conference held at Wheelock College in March 2007.
Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture
Byron Hurt reported by Samantha Berg
With a conference title like “Pornography and Pop Culture: Reframing Theory, Rethinking Activism,” one could assume some heavy-hitting feminist philosophizing about pornography was about to go down in Boston, and one would be right.
But kicking off the weekend’s educational seminars and slideshows was a decidedly nonacademic movie that didn’t mention feminism or even pornography, instead it dealt with issues of race and masculinity in hip-hop. The movie Beyond Beats and Rhymes featured quarterback/antisexism activist Byron Hurt taking a close look at hip hop’s soaring popularity in light of its increasingly sexist and homophobic content, intersecting qualities that coincide too neatly with pornography’s recent pop culture ascent.
Hurt interviewed prominent hip hop artists like Chuck D, Jadakiss and Russell Simmons to ask them how they feel about what today’s lyrics tell us about black men, black women and the new hip-hop generation. Between interviews and music video clips were alarming statistics such as that 61 percent of rape victims are under 18 and 49 percent of gunshot victims are black men.
Obvious comparisons between hip-hop videos and pornography quickly showed themselves to be only the first of several deeper levels of analysis Hurt made. When questioning why 70 percent of mainstream hip hop is consumed by white men, Hurt didn’t shy away from connecting the music’s virulent misogyny to what white male consumers want to see. If black women are overwhelmingly portrayed as bitches and ho’s while black men are portrayed as gangstas and pimps, it’s mostly because that’s how white male consumers driving the market want to see black people portrayed. His point was not to avoid black men’s responsibility for their complicity in objectifying women, but to recognize the radical idea that oppressions and oppressed people are more similar to each other than they are to the white men at the top benefiting from racist and sexist stereotypes.
The public face of hip hop is that of black men while the bulk of hip hop’s profits go to wealthy white men, and the public face of pornography is white women while yet more wealthy white men run off with millions in exploited profit. Exploitation means to benefit at another’s expense, and it would be hard to view corporate media’s appropriation of black culture and all colors of women’s bodies as anything but a one-sided win for capitalists.
Byron Hurt is a former Northeastern University football star and a long-time gender violence prevention educator. He is also the director and producer of the documentary film Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes and produced the award-winning documentary I Am A Man: Black Masculinity in America.
Leave a comment
- Melania Trump, America’s first sex worker First Lady December 22, 2016
- Brock Turner and porn users share a culture of sexual entitlement July 22, 2016
- Dead Rentboys tell no tales September 7, 2015
- From Norway to New Zealand, pro-prostitution research is its own worst enemy November 24, 2014
- I want 140 characters which will end rape June 12, 2014
- “The City of Roses shall no longer tolerate feminism!” May 30, 2014
- Ghosts of Prostitution Debates Past October 31, 2013
- Sam Berg’s Statement on Radfem Rise Up! 2013 July 11, 2013
- Rain & Thunder Activist Spotlight: Samantha Berg, United States June 12, 2013
- Norwegian prostitution research solid like iceberg February 8, 2013
- New research shows violence decreases under Nordic model: Why the radio silence? January 22, 2013
- Who votes against decriminalizing prostituted children? November 9, 2012
- Radfem Reboot Wrap-up August 20, 2012
- Christine Stark’s “Nickels”, a tale of association January 17, 2012
- The Internet Swear Jar December 15, 2011
- Feminism and Occupy Portland November 6, 2011
- Three days of radical feminist SCUM October 25, 2011
- On the Feminists-in-Underwear Walks October 9, 2011
- Scotland: Don’t be like US May 5, 2010
- New coalition challenges the status quo of “Pornland, OR” February 14, 2010
- Extra, extra! Newspaper reporter interviews radical feminist! January 2, 2010
- Radical Feminism on the Web: The Carnival of Radical Feminists November 9, 2009
- Samantha Berg: HerStories interview October 28, 2008
- Paradigm shifts and paying for sex May 2, 2008
- The quest to be human: An interview with “Getting Off” author Robert Jensen November 22, 2007
- Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture September 14, 2007
- The New Antipornography Slide Show September 14, 2007
- Pornography, Prostitution & Sex Trafficking: How Do You Tell the Difference? September 14, 2007
- Hey, progressives! Cathouse got your tongue? July 9, 2006
- Portland at crossroads of human trafficking April 6, 2006
- “It’s up to you”: Prostitution, Censorship and Sweden January 4, 2006
- Female Chauvinist Liz: Third wave feminism through the songs of Liz Phair October 31, 2005
- The Harms of Gay Male Pornography: A Sexual Equality Perspective August 14, 2005
- Memorial for civil rights leader Andrea Dworkin July 1, 2005
- Giving the marginalized the tools to speak their voices April 10, 2005
- Sex trafficking strikes closer to home than thought November 13, 2004
- Media critics blind towards Playboy’s soft porn June 1, 2004
- All naked women are created equal January 3, 2004