Alumna Dr. Pough sheds light on Hip-Hop Feminism

Courtesy of Priscilla Ziskin

Courtesy of Priscilla Ziskin

Priscilla Ziskin, Staff Writer

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Dr. Gwendolyn Pough, Dean’s Professor of the Humanities and Chair of the Women and Gender Studies Department at Syracuse University, gave a presentation on Apr. 2 in the Atrium auditorium on hip-hop feminism’s role in America’s current political movement.

Her lecture discussed how hip-hop feminism plays a role in our society and how many people do not take the time to realize it. She first provided some history of hip-hop music and how there are many significantly influential women in the industry such as Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliott, Remy Ma and more.

“Women have tremendously contributed to hip hop culture and still contribute to hip hop culture,” said Pough.

According to Pough, hip-hop reigns in popular culture, but white supremacy is on the rise in other segments of United States culture. Pough argued that the world would have a very different outlook on life without hip-hop feminism and it should be considered a global agenda.

Cardi B was used as a prime example because she is known for using her platform to address political issues. She also confronts biases on sex work and uses her music video for “Money” as a tool to do so. Cardi B does not try to remove herself from her past as a stripper, but instead embraces her history and past struggles. She opens the door to having conversations about sex work in America.

Pough showed two Instagram videos of Cardi B, one attacking President Trump for the government shutdown and another of her description of what a true feminist is. Cardi B’s message was that true feminists are respectable to all females and fight for equal human rights, but nowadays there is a misunderstanding of what they truly stand for.

“In this political movement, we can’t afford not to protest,” exclaimed Dr. Pough. “We are protesting and still starting movements to save our lives and everyone else’s.”

When an audience member asked her opinion about the recent controversy about Cardi B drugging men and robbing them, she responded that “it is definitely wrong, but she is not the first rapper to have a criminal past, and a lot of rappers rap about their criminal past.”

Then, another audience member called out “that is such a double standard,” and they ended up debating for a few minutes, resulting in a tense moment during the presentation.

Pough later provided an analysis of what it means to be a darker woman in the music industry, stating that women who fit eurocentric beauty standards are more focused on. Pough observed that it seems the darker the artist’s skin, the less they are taken seriously, and that this has been an ongoing issue.

Another audience member brought up Jamaican dancehall recording artist, singer and songwriter Spice, who posted a photo on Instagram in October, appearing to have her skin bleached. Although she did not actually go through with the surgery, she was creating awareness towards colorism to show how people of different skin tones are treated, and how women with her skin tone are discriminated against. Spice claims colorism is being swept under the rug, and that we need to stop degrading our dark skin women.

“Colorism is real,” said Dr. Pough. “It should be dead, but it’s not.”