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The Women’s Resource Center is working to connect students, faculty and campus resources to address issues affecting women.
The WRC is doing this through its “Rumor Has It” program, which meets Tuesdays in the UMC, according to the WRC website.
The WRC held “Hip-Hop and Gender Violence Part 2: Connections?” Tuesday afternoon in the UMC, which was organized by Office Manager Hannah Wilks.
A handful of students and staff gathered in the WRC to watch a 30-minute video and discuss issues today’s hip-hop culture poses concerning gender and race inequalities.
Wilks said the “Rumor Has It” program is working to create a safe environment for open discussion.
“’Rumor Has It’ is a program that helps bring campus resources from all over campus into a centralized place where we can have discussions around difficult topics and in a safe environment where people can share their experiences and just learn some information,” Wilks said.
The video shown during the program brought attention to many of the terms used in hip-hop culture.
The room was silent throughout the film’s presentation, other than a few chuckles at the occasional joke. The film was made by Byron Hurt and is titled, “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes.”
Davian Gagne, CU’s gender violence prevention and education coordinator, presented the video. Gagne said Hurt addresses the impacts of various aspects of hip-hop in his video.
“He (Hurt) looks at all the different angles of how the hip-hop culture objectifies women or is really homophobic,” Gagne said. “There is a bunch of different issues.”
Gagne said Hurt is an activist who tackles issues related to violence, masculinity, homophobia, sexism and misogyny. When Hurt was asked to speak about the violence within hip-hop, he decided to create a film on the subject.
Speaking specifically about the women who appear in videos and other places in hip-hop culture, Gagne said their decisions to make such appearances may be the pursuit of power.
“How else are they given power with hip-hop culture? Well, through their bodies and through their sexuality,” she said. “If you come from a community with limited opportunities, getting in a video or selling drugs or whatever it may be, that’s your access to power.”
After the video ended, those in attendance discussed what they saw as reoccurring stereotypes of women and men in hip-hop culture, and how no one seems to want to step in and break the cycle.
Some students discussed how they think today’s artists are allowing record companies to define how their music and their images are presented to the public.
“(Hip-hop is) a culture that is being sold,” said 18-year-old Rebecca Conway, a freshman political science and English major. “Now, it seems like it’s based on violence and oppression and keeping people unaware and oblivious in a sense.”
The student discussion of the relationship between hip-hop and the term the group coined “hip-pop” addressed the decisions modern artists face between succumbing to the popular demand for racy music and derogatory lyrics or speaking out on controversial issues.
Students said it is a do or die situation for most rising stars in a culture where degrading women and using homophobic terms was not its original intent. “Hip-pop” videos make millions but perpetuate those negative notions, they said.
Conway said the discussion filled a need on campus.
“It’s just cool to have these conversations towards social awareness,” she said. “I feel like that’s kind of something missing on campus. So it’s nice to find that here.”
Gagne said the film and discussion are intended to provoke thought on the effects of messages hip-hop culture may be sending.
“Sometimes, when I show this to staff, they get a different message and are like, ‘Oh, I’m going to stop listening to hip-hop,’ but that’s not what I’m asking you all to do,” Gagne said. “I’m just asking for a deeper analysis about what this music is really proliferating. How do homophobia, racism and all these other issues show up. I want you to know so you can think more about the effects.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Carli Auran at Carli.firstname.lastname@example.org.