To be a woman who loves hip hop at times is to be in love with your abuser. —Ava DuVernay
I’m a woman who loves hip hop. I’m pulled in by the energy, the irreverence of some of the lyrics, the sense of being so alive in its beat. And yet, as a woman, I also cringe at some of its messages.
Hip hop is full of misogyny, words that spew anger at women, that marginalize women, that view women more as objects than as humans. But in these ways it is actually much like the rest of our society, only clearer, and with a great beat that makes you want to dance even as you are hurt by what it says.
The Double Bind for Women
This is the societal double bind for women. We love men who hurt us, and we excuse them. Why? Well, we tell ourselves, because they are men, and that’s how they are. We go forward even if our self-esteem is in tatters.
- How often have you loved someone who hurt you and then excused this because this is just the way men are?
- How many times have you forgiven him?
- How many times have you forgiven the next him after that?
Are women victims? No, but we are just finding our voice and learning to speak up and challenge the internalized, societally informed notion of women that I have named girly thoughts that say be quiet; good girls don’t make waves, they understand, they love, they forgive.
This is why I applaud writer Allison Davis, who wrote an essay on The Cut and was interviewed on NPR about the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta of Compton. I urge you to listen to that interview, where she gives voice to her feelings as a woman while also praising the critically important contributions of the film Straight Outta of Compton.
Where You Draw the Line
After hearing Allison Davis, I’m encouraging all of us to say:
Just because what you are saying is important—even revolutionary—doesn’t mean you get a free pass to continue to oppress me.
Would this have made for a more complicated script for the film? Yes. But so what? If this film’s creative group couldn’t get it right, maybe the next one will.
View Without Your Toxic Girly Thoughts
Will I see Straight Outta Compton? Yes, but I won’t be sitting there with my girly thoughts excusing how women are exploited. And I suggest you don’t either.
Maybe if we can start speaking up about what’s in our entertainment, we will feel more comfortable in speaking up in our lives, and maybe we’ll stop listening to our toxic girly thoughts!
Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power
Patricia A. O'Gorman, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice. She is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and amusing presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations across the country in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O'Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from director of a rape crisis center to clinical director of a child welfare agency, and director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). She is a veteran of numerous television appearances, including Good Morning America, Today, and AM Sunday and is the author of eight books including: The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan (2014), The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013), and Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting (2012) 12 Steps to Self-Parenting.