Respond React: Rape Culture and Hip Hop

Hip hop activist Rosa Clemente recently posted a video response to a Rick Ross lyric on emcee Rocko’s new mixtape The Gift of Gab 2.

The line goes, “Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.” Clemente calls for more than petitioning, facebooking, or an attack on the finances of mainstream artists and their record labels, but for new action and a change in our relationships. She calls for women and men in the community to denounce rape culture, and for the leaders and elders of hip hop to speak out against its hold on lyricism. She asks that we actively teach young people to combat rape culture, and create a climate of respect for women and for consent that starts early.

I was moved by Clemente’s video, but also by her ability to react immediately to unacceptable forms of violence, and her push to address and hold responsible the perpetrators of rape in our communities while also understanding rape culture as larger than just male, just heterosexual, just hip hop, and just the hood. I wanted to share her video and share her tenacity.

How can we learn to organize ourselves so that we are ready to respond to any threat to our communities, be it violent, economic, cultural or spiritual? Where do we find the strength to be alert to all forms of injustice as they are perpetrated against us? I believe if we could react this fiercely, cohesively and compassionately whenever we or our people are under attack, it would be much harder for the powers that be to mess with us.

2 responses to “Respond React: Rape Culture and Hip Hop

  1. I love and respect Rosa, and I agree with what she is saying, I just wish she had extended it past “real manhood”. Rape culture is partially a problem of “real manhood” and “real womanhood” and social understandings of what those terms are, and I think part of what has to be broken down is the idea coming from Rick Ross that rape is something that “real men” do as part of their enjoyment of women. I wish she had nuanced that part of her argument.
    That said, she is at UMass-Amherst, and what with the problems we at Amherst College have recently been having with sexual assault and rape her comments certainly come at a critical time for us in the valley. Maybe some students who have been implicitly pushing back against these efforts will find her video and question their understanding of masculinity for themselves.

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