Ignore the hype about hip-hop

Noelle Pennyman

As Black History Month ended yesterday, I thought it was fitting to see a segment on CNN detailing how hip-hop music destroys and degrades women. While I can’t argue women in hop-hop videos are scantily clad in barely-there clothing and dance like strippers, I have to disagree.

No one is forcing the “video girls” to dance the way they do or dress the way they do. They are getting a legal paycheck like the rest of us. They are not to blame for wanting fame and money.

I’ve seen worse dancing at any local nightclub in Cleveland, but somehow, that’s OK. The same women who might claim they are being degraded are shaking their butts to the same music they are critiquing.

We can’t blame the music artists because, in case we forgot, they are men. They love women and admire the female form, to put it lightly. If they have the money and the opportunity to put whatever they want in their videos, we as society can’t point the finger at them.

The simple solution is to turn off the television or radio. The music and images aren’t being pounded into your ear drums or burned into your retinas. Like porn, drugs or any other socially deviant behavior in this country, it can all be avoided.

I don’t enjoy some hip-hop for that reason. Instead of sitting and complaining about all of the cursing or the negative images I see, I turn it off. The problem is gone – not solved – but gone.

A lot of people seem to be more satisfied with criticizing one of the most popular and fastest-growing genres of music because they don’t agree with it.

Another argument is that if men continue to treat women they way they do in videos, it will set an example to treat all women that way.

If a woman lets men call her a ho or trick, then men will continue to do so. Women are stronger than what they give themselves credit for. They don’t have to let males treat them any way other than what they see as acceptable.

I would never let a man treat me the way “video girls” are treated. Therefore, I could care less how they are treated in the videos.

Critics cannot dismiss all the music within the hip-hop genre. There are men and women who put out positive images through their music. Talib Kweli, Common, Eve and Mary J. Blige are a sample of artists who don’t fit the stereotype that hip-hop is destroying the youth.

In the most recent episode of VH1’s “Roc Docs,” Paul Wall and Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan and Tego Calderon go to Sierra Leone, Africa, to learn about the residents’ struggles after the 11-year civil war.

One of the former residents who traveled with the artists said hip-hop saved his life. Rebel soldiers captured him and told him to prove he wasn’t a spy. Some hip-hop tapes dropped from his pockets, and he lip-synced to every lyric. Hip-hop saved his life.

There are thousands of people who can claim hip-hop saved their lives.

Instead of dismissing a genre with the versatility to provoke thought, emotion and anger all at the same time, learn to ignore or respect it for what it is.

Noelle Pennyman is a junior public relations major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].