During a student panel titled “You Do It for the Culture: Discussing Rape Culture,” participants spoke of their personal experiences with rape culture and criticized urban culture’s failure to remedy issues perpetuating the matter. Hofstra’s NAACP chapter presented the event on Thursday, April 6 in the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center. The presentation was comprised of segments analyzing how aspects of urban culture such as language, music and entertainment contribute to the current cultural climate.
Sophomore Genesis Rivera, a political science and sociology major, as well as a Hofstra NAACP and panel member, presented audience members with ground rules for the event and cautioned event members that the discussion would be difficult, covering subjects such as sexual assault and harassment. However, she emphasized that it is an important conversation to have and introduced counselors from the Joan and Arnold Saltzman Community Services Center who would be there to provide support for students over the duration of the event.
The panel contrasted societal views of women and men as portrayed in the media. One student noted the double standard for men and women on social media, with the latter often accused of being “provocatively dressed” as opposed to confident. Students also shared their outrage and placed responsibility on the shoulders of traditionally “male-controlled” institutions such as education and several students shared their concerns that dress codes in schools are misogynistic.
For some audience members, it was difficult to draw a distinction between the art and the artist. The panel recited lines from songs by Usher, DMX and Robin Thicke to highlight the mainstream objectification of women. They did not shy away from holding the more innocent seeming songs responsible including “Kiss the Girl” from “The Little Mermaid,” and the holiday classic “Baby, it’s Cold Outside,” both of which imply non-consensual sexual advances. It was stressed that consent must be blatantly affirmative between both individuals and both of these songs suggest otherwise.
One song in particular, “U.O.E.N.O.” by Rocko, drew the most criticism. In it, he details a flagrant account of sexual assault and raps, “Put molly all in her champagne/She ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that/She ain’t even know it.” Panel, audience and community members were taken aback by these lyrics and discussed their inability to separate Rocko from his art.
Joy Jones, a senior journalism major, said that urban artists and music as a whole is “extremely sexist, and even racist depending on the song.” She noted that while hip hop and rap culture are at fault, the genres are not exclusively to blame.
“Statistics state that 80 percent of Top 40 songs have sexist undertones,” Jones said. She explained that, on occasion, she will stage her own personal protest to draw attention to this problem plaguing the entertainment industry.
“If I disagree with a song’s basic principles, I will intentionally stand still to make sure everyone around me can see that I am uncomfortable with the song and I don’t agree with the messages of the song.”
Rivera spoke about changing the language when discussing those who have been sexually assaulted. She urged audience members to avoid calling the assaulted “victims” and to refer to them as “survivors” instead.
Rivera said, “Survivors still have their life. ‘Victim’ re-victimizes people.”