Rap artists have been notorious for conveying sexist messages since 2 Live Crew released “2 Live Crew is What We Are” in 1986.
The lyrics of many rap artists revolve around the central theme of female, sexual objectification. Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre’s classic “Bitches Ain’t S–t” is essentially about how women serve to please men sexually, and any actual intimacy with a woman will result in her eventually running away with your money and your pride.
Modern rappers perpetuate the legacies of their sexist predecessors, perhaps in a more subtle way. But do rappers get too much of a bad “rap?” Do they shoulder a disproportionate amount of blame for the sexist messages that have infiltrated mainstream music at large?
Out of fairness, I believe it is my duty to cite some classic and modern examples of sexist messages in chart-topping rock n’ roll.
Perhaps some of you folks recall a little ditty by a fellow named James Brown, entitled “It’s a Man’s Man’s World.” In this song, Brown states all of the various accomplishments men have made over the course of world history: “Man made electric light to take us out of the dark. Man made the boat for the water, like Noah made the ark.”
But, he says, man would be nowhere without the women and girls standing by while they are performing great feats. Those women are standing idly by, serving the superficial needs of these men who have the capacity to hold up the world on their own. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, that James Brown was arrested several times from 1990 until his death on charges of domestic abuse.
Working our way down the classic rock and roll timeline brings us to more recent efforts. The late ’70s and ’80s served as prime time for sexist lyricism.
In 1975, AC/DC released a song called “She’s Got Balls.” This is perhaps a testament to the failure of mid-20th century British sexual education. Clearly, the members of AC/DC are very confused about the differences between male and female genitalia.
In addition to conveying their ignorance regarding lady parts, AC/DC is also being sexist. According to AC/DC, a woman who is attractive “likes to crawl all around the floor on her hands and knees, because she likes to please me.”
The wildly popular Scorpions tune “Rock You Like a Hurricane” includes the lyrics, “The b—h is hungry / she needs to tell / so give her inches and feed her well.” Need I say more?
Most sexist rock songs that have infiltrated modern mainstream fall into a category I loathingly call “dude rock.” Bands of this genre feature vocalists in dire need of a throat lozenge. Usually, overly-distorted guitars mash out power chords — sometimes in a dropped tuning — to accompany the vocalists.
Quintessential examples of “dude rockers” include Nickelback, Seether, Buckcherry and Puddle of Mudd. Besides being absolutely asinine and contradictory in so many ways, Puddle of Mudd’s song “Control” states, “I can’t control you. You’re not the one for me, no.”
To me, this implies that a woman that cannot be “controlled” is not desirable.
Buckcherry’s “Crazy B—h” is self-explanatory; but for those who haven’t heard their feeble attempt at conveying pure masculinity, I can briefly recapitulate the song for you: Dear woman, you may be mentally unstable, but that is of no consequence to me. You’re a great lay, and that’s all that matters.
There is too much sexism to quote in Nickelback’s song “Figured You Out.” The thought of even looking up Nickelback lyrics makes my brain melt. But if you would like a prime example of sexism in modern songwriting, look up the lyrics. If you aren’t already too desensitized to sexism, you may even be offended.
If I were a modern woman being told, “Shush girl, shut your lips, do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips,” I would not find that particularly appealing. If “dude rockers” are really so desperate to convey messages of male superiority, they are probably over-compensating for something.