She was Workin’ Like Foreal…

In a study by Elaine Richardson of Ohio State University, she discusses the era of black popular culture and mass media, interlinked with hip hop music creating a generation of degradation of women and inequality. The message portrayed by the black popular entertainment media disrupt everyday practices as well as creating a certain low-class standard associated with African American men and women within the culture. 

Gender, sexuality, and racism take precedence in terms of the media because of America’s heavy reliance upon women being seen as simply “video vixens” being controlled by men and creating social inequality. Mass media repackages the concept of slavery regarding black women, making women out to be hyper-sexualized slaves towards men, relating back to African American history. 

In the research done by Richardson, she collected  African American female participants, ranging in age from 17-19, with middle-income and average urban area backgrounds to help explain and give their opinion based upon today’s hip hop and commercial media. Richardson provided rap videos for the women to view, while being taped, asking their opinions and thoughts pertaining to their thoughts regarding their own values and social practices. In her study, she paid close attention to how the young women viewed the video, as well as their interpretations of the song lyrics.

In one video, Richardson discusses the content revolving around the differences amongst the men and women within the media, showing them to be, “…a strip club anthem replete with signs of carnality and status, attractive pulsating young black women wielding their power signs – their beautiful shapely bodies – backsides, breasts, lips, tongues, fly hairstyles, varied brown skin tones, stylish, if very little, clothing, heels, nails, vivid colors; virile men flashing their black men’s power signs – cash money, hard body posturing, gold, jewelry, fine cars, strong drinks, urban apparel.”

In relation to this video, Richardson produces a main thesis regarding, “How do young African American females negotiate stereotypical representations of African American culture, gender, labor, and sexual values in rap music videos?” In her study, she finds that most the women find the videos to be patriarchal and sexist, while they also feel obligated to speak, think, and act in particular ways because of the discourses associated with the practices of social media.






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