Type of Document Dissertation Author Pemberton, Jennifer M. Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-04062008-130736 Title "Now I Ain't Sayin' She's a Gold Digger": African American Femininities in Rap Music Lyrics Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Sociology, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Patricia Yancey Martin Committee Chair Dennis Moore Committee Member Irene Padavic Committee Member Jill Quadagno Committee Member Keywords
- Hegemonic Masculinity
- Rap Music
- Hegemonic Femininity
Date of Defense 2008-03-18 Availability unrestricted AbstractABSTRACT
This dissertation reports the results of a study about representations of (Black) women, sexuality, and gender relations in rap music lyrics. I explore the extent to which rap music lyrics reproduce or challenge gendered, racialized, and sexual stereotypes of African American women. I ask how men rappers differ from women rappers in depicting (Black) women and themselves. I show what qualities or practices, particularly sexual qualities and practices, are considered as feminine or womanly in rap music and hip-hop culture and how these qualities and practices are similar to or differ from mainstream gender hegemony. I examine whether and how rap music lyrics construct a hierarchical and complementary relationship between (Black) masculinity and femininity. I ask which feminine meanings and practices are treated as “pariah femininities” and point to features of hegemonic masculinity in hip-hop culture and the broader African American community. Finally, I ask whether and how gendering practices represented in rap music lyrics constitute resistant femininities and challenge White and middle-class gender hegemony.
I created a database of rap songs on platinum albums with an original release date of 1984 through 2000. I randomly selected 450 songs from the sampling frame for content analysis. In general, I find that rap music both reproduces and contests prevailing gender, race, class and sexual ideologies and social structures. My analysis of rap lyrics suggests that many male rappers depict (Black) women as promiscuous sexual “freaks” and “bitches” who have sex with men for money and/or other material goods. In many lyrics, they describe their desire for and engagement in sexual activities with freaks and bitches, but they do not express respect. Some women rappers reproduce gendered and racialized stereotypes in their lyrics as well. Still, other women and men rappers challenge these negative images in their songs and offer alternatives. Instead of calling for a reserved or muted sexuality for African American women, a few women rappers depict themselves and other Black women in lyrics as sexually free, in control of their sexuality, and financially independent from men.
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