Tags: art/music, children/youth, discourse/language, emotion/desire, gender, media, sex/sexuality, feminist criticism, hip hop, male gaze, madonna-whore complex, misogyny, rap, rhetoric, sexism, slut shaming, socialization,
06 to 10 mins
Summary: In this music video, rap artist Lupe Fiasco addresses the issue of images in the media and how they are absorbed by children and incorporated into their lives as adults. He appears to be critical of the hip hop music industry for sending confusing messages when it broadcasts words like "bitch," sometimes as a deprecation, and other times as a compliment (e.g., Kanye West calls Kim Kardashian a "perfect bitch" in a recent song he wrote). Before Fiasco, cultural scholars already contemplated the use of the word "bitch" in hip hop. For instance, in her book Prophets of the Hood, Imani Perry discusses the way women artists deploy the term, and how some have even succeeded in subverting its negative connotations in an effort to create new space for women. It is clear, however, Fiasco is plotting a different course with his criticism. He raps: "You see the fruit of the confusion / He caught in a reality / She caught in an illusion." While it should be said that neither character can see things more realistically than the other, the line suggests that Fiasco is really interested in the term's inherent dualism, and in this way, his criticism maps onto a broader feminist theory that attempts to expose the modern workings of what Freud originally coined as the Madonna-whore complex. This complex refers to a dualism in Western patriarchal discourse, which seeks to circumscribe the behavior of women and the desires of men. On the one hand, women are rewarded for being the sexual play objects of men (i.e., whores), and on the other hand, women are given clear messages that true grace only derives from marital chastity (i.e., Madonna). The video might be useful for triggering a discussion about how this game is clearly rigged for women, but it can also be used to begin a discussion about how the discourse negatively affects men.
Submitted By: Kim Ward
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