How Do We Treat Our Women
Within Hip Hop?

The other week the Bay Area was treated to what was shapin' up to be one of the hypest concerts of the year.. Redman was comin' to town....and last time he rolled through things were off the hook. There was a lot of promotion surrounding the show... Lots of ticket giveaways...There was even a whole weekend dedicated to spotlighting the Redman Show... One of the things that struck me most was the number of women clamoring for tickets.. I'm not talking hoochie mommas or hip hop groupies... I'm talking regular everyday intelligent, good looking women who you would never think were into hip hop were making plans to go see Redman...

The show for the most part was energetic.. Redman proved to be a charismatic character on stage...However, there was something undermining the show...Everywhere I looked I saw women being disrespected... It was something you probably wouldn't have noticed on the surface.. but if you were with a woman or you actually took time to speak to one during the show you would've most likely seen what is rapidly becoming a disturbing trend.. Women were being grabbed and consistently accosted.. I happen to run into two women who stopped to chat with me and for the next 15 minutes everyone who walked by made it a point to grab their asses or poke some other body part.. It didn't matter that I was standing there talking with them.. It could've been my girl or my sister or in this case two listeners.. Brothas didn't care.. they were brazen and would just come and disrespect... Some would lean over and whisper in their ears right in front of me.. 'Baby let me get that number.. you don't need to be around him..'.. Others would just simply let their hand linger and rub across their body.. either their chest or ass... Neither one of these women were provacatively dressed.. One had a sun dress.. the other had a pants outfit.. No one's breasts were hanging out and they weren't teasing no one.. They were just two attractive sisters who were finding themselves being touched... Guys seemed to have a definite mean spiritness about them..

As a guy I questioned my manhood.. Was it me? Was I some sort of wimp that this disrespect was happening? I wanted to say something... but noticed a lot of guys were in groups... An these groups seemed to be itching for a fight.. A lopsided altercation was likely to definitely occur... And to be honest since I was rolling solo.. I wasn't quite prepared to be boxin' over someone who I barely knew...But it left me disturbed...I came to later find out that some of the perpetrators of these antics were fellow Bay Area rappers... some of who are supposed to be positive and all about keeping things real and positive... I noticed certain Bay Area record promoters... who clearly understand how much of a thin line hip hop performances are on.. yet they were out there poking and grabbing women and thinking things were funny.. I even saw one of our beloved 49er football players jump the fence and act ill... Yes, some of the guys were drunk.. But others just seemed to be on a mission.. and that mission was to make some one feel like crap.. .. Call it what you will but to me.. it's a new day and time folks and that night the Redman show reaffirmed the old adage a lot of us over the years have begun to adhere to.. 'Never bring your girl to a hip hop show.. if you do it's gonna be nothing but drama.'

This whole harassment thing has not been limited to the Redman Show... As I began to speak to women about this I'm finding this trend has been on the rise...Its been happening everywhere.. It was going on during the Eryakah Badu concert.., during the Juneteenth Festivals.. and numerous other large gatherings.. The thing that really hit home occurred the other week when the Pirate DJs held one of their famous 'Cream Of Beat' parties.. These underground gigs are the ultimate of hip hop jams.. They're known for being packed and pretty safe...People come from miles around to hear djs Mind Motion, Rolo 1-3, Joe Quixx and Ivan get loose on the turn tables and set things off. Very rarely are there any problems...I mean the Cream Of Beat gigs are the type of functions where folks who are really into music just go to groove. There's no dress code to stifle your style.. No oppressive security mad dogging and man handling folks.. These Pirate DJ gigs have long been the type of jams where a lot of females would roll solo because it had that type of positive vibe...

This particular Saturday seemed to be no different.. There was a line around the block to get in.. A couple hundred people were turned away..and the music was going on.. But there was a mean spirited under current in the air... Women were being touched and grabbed all night..Brothas were literally on some other stuff that night... they were going off...One male decided to take things to another level by actually taking his clothes off while dancing on a crowded stage.. He then started masturbating.. The look on his face was like.. 'I don't give a fuck what y'all bitches think.' You could tell he was trying to shock the women in the crowd...It was a while before security was able to stop him..

A trip to the ladies room or a walk around the club was like walking the gauntlet... As a male who attended with two female friends both I and they found it nerve racking because of all the touching and grabbin'.. As I walked with my friends through the club, I found myself making eye contact with each guy I passed while trying to watch everyone's hands as I walked through the crowd from one place to the other... Most seemed to get the hint and showed a little respect... But the respect was more toward me and not the women... Their mindset was bent on grabbing any female ass that walked by.. and inspite of my watchful eyes.. I saw as I passed through one group of guys after another.. there would be some bold bastard reaching out to cop a feel... If I stepped away to get a drink brothas would take it upon themselves to aggressively ask for the phone number...An uninvited arm would be placed around the shoulder.. and any sort of denial to either dance or come up with a phone number would be met with anger... Sometimes this anger would result in an insulting 'Fuck you bitch' type remark... other times it would result in a tighter squeeze around the neck or a hard tug on the arm.. I'm unfortunately hearing more and more stories about beat downs being handed out to those who refuse to come correct...

Two months ago during hip hop night at a Castro Valley Nite club a young woman was shot in the nose from a disgruntled male who she had refused to dance with... In another incident during a recent Uncle Luke Show in San Jose fools decided to tear the clothing off a female concert goer..This is unfortunately an increasing phenomenon...If females 'get out of hand' and 'don't respond accordingly' there's a good possibility she may find her clothing being torn off her body. During last year's 'riot' after an Oakland Dogg Pound concert several women found themselves victimized in this manner. Another patron who was intoxicated was gang banged in a rest room.. In fact this same thing happened several times during the last visit by Tha Dogg Pound.. If guys don't get their way.. If your not providing the type of attention they seek.. a female may find her clothing being torn right off her body... This sort of thing is then greeted by lots of gleeful laughter..

The other day I was talking with two young women... Sony(18) and Christina (17) about this topic.. Sony who happens to be sister to Sway who is one of the host of the internationally syndicated Wake Up Show,.... explained how several of her friends on more then one accassion have had guns pulled on them while resisting the advances of aggressive young men.. Sony noted that such events were not uncommon especially for a lot of kids her age who live ine projects.. She ssemed very unemotional and detached from this whole saga.. Sony also noted how when things get too far out of hand, that women have to be able and willing to physically confront those who step too roughly.. She talked about how her and her two girlfriends had to administer a 'beat down' to this guy who decided to punch her because she refused his advances... 'This is just the way it is'.. she explained non-chalantly..

Her and Christina, noted that they usually keep guys at bay by learning how to be clever and use psychology on a lot of guys.. In one instance a guy kept insisting on getting a phone number, inspite of Sony informing him that she had a boyfriend.. Finally, Sony charmingly noted if sahe his girlfriend.. she would never disrespect him by giving out her number to another guy... Hence she was just extending that same respect.. In this case the guy got the hint.. But not every female will be as clever as a Sony and her friend..

Going back to the Redman show..I noted some of the on stage antics of both Redman and the opening act the Alkaholiks... Both groups encouraged 'bitches' to take off their tops and expose themselves.. Both acts help set a tone that I think made it ripe for men to run around grabbin' women... Don't get me wrong I'm not some Delores Tucker type blaming all our social ills on hip hop...but right now.. I'm hearing a type of music and seeing a culture that seemingly goes out of its way to insult and degrade members of the opposite sex...There's no denying that hip hop has a major influence and we need to recognize this and help use this music and culture to bring about some sort of positive change...Keep in mind to a large degree hip hop like other forms of music has always been a barometer in which one can gage the current social climate.The significant aspect about hip hop is its rawness.. It's always straight with no camaflaging chasers..In other words you get a pretty clear view as to what's happening on certain social, political and economic fronts...

So what is the current social, political and economic climate and why is there so much disrespect going on?...Is this a Bay Area thing.. or a Cali thing? .. Or is it a generational thing..Is all this a result of gangsta rap? I'm not sure if its something that seems to be happening only with the brothas or is it crossing all ethnic lines ? Are there outside forces at work trying to create a division within the sexes..? ... I'm not even quite sure as to how this whole issue can be resolved...

In my opinion there seems to be a lot of anger directed females. I think a lot of it has to do with issues of power and control.. A lot of women who are growing up in todays hip hop generation are beginning to flip the script and adopt some of the scandalous ways that have long been associated with men.. In other words women are becoming players and macks too... More and more females are creeping with the same type of callousness and recklessness of their male counterparts..At the same time you have more and more men who finding themselves less confident and less sure they are finding themselves being played just as often as women are...A lot of the fellas are findin' they can't take it and as a result are getting physical in an attempt to keep women in check.. All this is being reflected in the hip hop music we listen to.

I recall 8 years ago there was a rapper named Wanda Dee who to me was a precursor to the 'I'm a female playa' personas donned by Lil Kim and Foxy Brown..Wanda too me was unique in the sense that she was the first female I had ever seen within hip hop really play on her sexuality..Wanda was signed to Tuff City records which at the time was home to Mark The 45 King and Lakim Shabazz. In her single 'To The Bone' she boldly invites men to come 'divide her and slide into her'. Her cover depicted her wearing a tight leopard skin body suit and some scantly dressed muscle men standing behind her...I should add that Wanda was very attractive..
During one of her first performances in New York.. she was literally booed off the stage as folks threw pennies at her.. People apparently weren't with the whole sexual thing..I recalled hearing comments to the effect that she was ruining hip hop by going in that direction..Nowadays a Lil Kim gets major props for wearing that same leopard skin outfit in posters while squatting. People show up to her concerts and have no problem watching her take her clothes off... 8 years ago she may have gotten booed off the stage...

I don't wanna get too side tracked with the whole Wanda Dee thing.. but what is interesting is that while Wanda was unceremoniously booed off stage.. the hip hop community never booed Luke or any of the numerous 'pimps, 'playas' and 'mack' types who were starting to emerge at that time. It unfortunately was one of the many contradictions and double standards that exist both within hip hop and society at large...It's ok for men to be overtly sexual but not ok for women... It's also ok for men to play the field and run all sorts of control games with females.. but lets not flip the script... A man is a true playa who posses major 'G' skills if he's able to manipulate sexual favors from females.. A woman on the other hand is a scandalous gold diggin' ho if she does the same thing. The fact that the 'playa', 'pimp' persona is accepted and considered credible on a street level is bad enough... What's been lost is the ability to accept rejection and to humbly deal with a defeat.. After all in the 90s everyone appears to be about playing games... and with game playing there are winners and losers.. It just seems like when a lot of men start to lose... they resort to violence.. It's not within their scope of 'manhood' to not have some sort of control over their female counterparts.

So today you have hip hop music that brazenly shows disdain for members of the opposite sex.. Men school folks on the scandalous ways of women and women show you how to work a male dominated system.. Outside the music arena you have a bunch of guys who are quite willing to knock out your teeth for not giving up a phone number or not agreeing to dance... If there some other forces at work some one please school me... 'cause I wanna see what we need to do to reverse this disturbing trend...

I'm not a psychologist or anything like that...But something seems to be dreadfully wrong when we within hip hop can justify and celebrate anti-social behavior all in the name of keepin' it real and boosting one's credibility. Something seems dreadfully wrong when positivity is all about being soft and preachy while negativity is all about being rough,rugged and authentic.. I'm not saying hip hop is the sole reason why there seems to be an increase in women being accosted..But as I said before it's had an influence...and we have to be honest as to what degree.. We have to be honest about our role as artists, consumers and industry folks... As a consumer we make a decision to by pass something positive to relish in some negative nonsense.. As artists we make decision to write about gats,guns, bitches and hos as opposed to societal and spiritual upliftment.. As industry folks we make decision not to sign, write about or play artists who are all about being positive.. Now I realize there are all sorts of economic justifications and lots of nicely packaged socio-political excuses for us moving in certain directions. All this boils down to individual actions and accountability.
When Redman or the Alkaholiks are performing at a concert as they did the other week and they yell for 'all bitches to take off their shirts' We ideally should all consider the impact and the effect they have. Yeah, there are folks who will say 'hey it's just entertainment'. There are others who will conviently hide behind the reasoning that 'not all women are bitches' etc. There are others who will say that they are mature enough to listen to such talk and not act upon it.

If we follow that line of thinking then let's keep that in mind the next time some white boy wants to start yelling racial slurs... Remember we can all placate ourselves by saying... not all blacks are niggers... and not all jews are kikes, not all Latinos are spics and not all Asians are chinks etc... And also lets also keep in mind that if some ugly stereotype gets depicted on tv or comes across some other form of mass media..let it slide.. because after all, we should not fear anyone acting upon it or even believing it.. I think you get the point.

Because I'm in the music industry, I'm faced with the constant struggle of economics influencing the course of action we take. It's real easy to be idealistic and to put forth noble philosophies until it's you paying the bills.. And trust me that's real.. When one has a family to raise and you're no longer 18 years old with your whole life in front of you... principles and values get compromised quick.. That 'bitch and ho' record doesn't sound like such a bad idea when you got bills to pay or a job to keep. Let's face it.. sex and violence sells.. but it does not prevent us from striving to put forth alternative messages to hopefully balance things out... It doesn't prevent us all from planting seeds of positivity... and it doesn't prevent us from all trying to help bring about a conducive atmosphere for positive social change.

Of course economics is determined by supply and demand...Hence each of us have a hand and a say so as to why things are the way they are within hip hop..Folks will easily step over the new Vanilla Ice lp and say he's not about keepin' it real... While at the same time they'll financially support through a tape purchase some artist who is all about slappin' hos and knockin' 'niggas' out.. All of us are responsible for helping create that demand. because we support the supply..

Here's the bottom line in all that I'm saying.. Right now there's a problem within the hip hop generation.. Guys are beatin' down women at an alarming rate after being 'rejected'. Guys are becoming more and more disrespectful and showing a disdain for females.. We need to ideally figure out why and what we can all do to help turn this around.. Yes, there are lots of social and economic conditions that are helping shape this destructive behavior... And I'm saying certain facets of our hip hop culture are a part of the problem and could with a little bit of commitment and willingness to change be a part of the solution.My question is what's it gonna take? A better KRS-One album? A slicker Public Enemy video? What should each of us be doing?...cause things seem to be getting out of hand and look to be getting worse. There's an old saying that basically goes.. 'You can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats its women'.. Right now hip hop is treatin' it's women like crap.. Those of us reading this article may not be doing the actual slappin' of women but we're directly and indirectly supporting an environment, myself included, that allows this to continue. So I'm pushing the envelop and calling for a discussion.. what can we do to flip the script on this dreadful situation?

written by
Davey D

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