Image of women in rap studied

By Jade Mardirosian
Staff Writer

The negative portrayal of women in rap music was the topic of a recent study conducted by a Baylor assistant professor of journalism.

Dr. Mia Moody decided to conduct research on the topic after noticing that portrayals of women in rap music were often misnomers.

“The message of independence is one that is often in rap music but they also focus on women being wealthy, beautiful and able to do everything, a superwoman,” Moody said. “I just felt like that was too much.”

Moody said she focused on three popular rap songs that particularly focus on independent women, Lil’ Webbie’s “Independent,” Yo Gotti’s “5 Star Chick” (“5 Star B—-”) and Drake’s “Fancy.”

“Findings showed that women were presented in unrealistic ways, by assigning them those superwoman skills on one hand but then on the other hand they still called them misogynistic terms,” Moody said.

Moody said such terms include b—-, broad and chick. Moody said although the portrayal of women in these songs is as independent, there is still a negative aspect to the lyrics.

“Another key finding was that where the women were portrayed as successful, college educated, well-rounded, the men were portrayed as average,” she said.

Moody said she believes this creates the negative idea that women must live up to perfect standards where men begin to think they can do anything and still get the perfect woman.

Flower Mound senior and Uproar recording artist K.J. Kenneth-Nwosa has been writing and performing rap music since his freshman year in high school. Though he does not refer to women in a derogatory way in his music, he does not think women are accurately portrayed in mainstream rap music.

“Women are usually portrayed as another material thing that will do whatever you want them to do,” Kenneth-Nwosa said.

“I don’t think it’s accurate at all and it is not just rappers. Movies always have the main character who is a guy and the girl is usually kind of easy to win over like an item or prize.”

Moody said this portrayal happens because women buy and listen to the music without complaining about how they are portrayed.

Mark Smith, assistant director of promotion and events at the Mayborn Museum Complex, said it is up to women to change the way they are portrayed in rap music.

“I think it is up to women to make sure that they are not being portrayed in a negative way in these videos,” Smith said. “The way they can do that is to show self-respect for themselves. If you don’t want someone else to disrespect you, you have to not disrespect yourself first.”

Smith said students should listen to the lyrics of these songs while putting one of their family members in the place of the woman that is being demeaned and see if that affects how they react to the same song.

Kenneth-Nwosa said students should take into account the background of the artist who is presenting derogatory lyrics.

“The [rapper] may not have come up with a good background and taught that women are more than just objects. It just shows how they were raised and people can be raised the wrong way,” Kenneth-Nwosa said.

Moody echoes these thoughts and said students must understand that the industry is concerned with making money.

“The lyrics sounds good and if you can listen to these songs without internalizing these messages, then it is OK,” Moody said. “Listeners and viewers need to be more aware that what you see isn’t necessarily how you should live your life.”

Cameroon graduate student Jessica Foumena has worked with Moody on the research, and added strategies to a recent article Moody wrote. She said that students must be aware that things shown in the media are not necessarily accurate.

“Students need to develop a critical mindset and be aware that everything on TV is not necessarily true,” Foumena said. “They need to develop their own mind to basically realize that they have a voice and they can think and confront their own view points with parents and friends to try to know more about the world.”

Moody said educators must work to combat the negative stereotypes and images found in rap music concerning women.

“I would like to see something taught about rap music and the damage it can do to your self-esteem,” Moody said. “I would like for us to have units on the messages that are in rap music so that children, adolescents and teenagers can learn the damages that these messages can do. And girls can know that independence is not about materialism or having a lot of money or being beautiful, independence is about taking care of business and doing what you need to do as an adult.”

The study will be presented in Boston in May at the International Communication Association Conference.