Violent Sexual Wordplay In Hip Hop Doesn't Bode Well for Young Consumers

There was an all-female peer education program on my college campus that challenged students to consider the terminology that we use for sex.  They would ask audiences to identify common vernacular for sex and audiences would inevitably come up with words such as screw, bang, and fuck.  The presenters would then note how many of these words required an aggressor and somebody on which the act is done.  They believed that this language undercut sex as a mutual act and reflected a rape culture that normalized hundreds of thousand of annual sexual assaults.

If there be any truth to what those women believed, then this does not bode well for Black men and boys as many of us have adopted words for sex that are even worse than those listed above.  So many of the words that we use both reflect an aggressor-target mindset and are outright violent.  For example, it’s not uncommon to hear words such as slay, cut, and smash in conversation with men.  Then there’s the growing phenomenon of using violent language directed at female genitalia as best illustrated by Lil Wayne’s apology for lyrics in which he talked about beating up the pussy like Emmet Till.  I actually don’t hear folks use this particular language too often in conversation but I do know that it’s rampant in hip hop and I write shortly after listening to a song in which another artist talked about beating up the pussy like Rodney King.

The power of words is a constant source of debate and I’m not going to settle it in this brief space but I do fall into the camp that believes that words matter.  Words are only words but it’s not insignificant that the euphemisms for sex that work their way into casual vernacular consistently reflect violence and aggressiveness.  New phrases that reflect mutual consent, enjoyment, and initiation just don’t penetrate culture in the same way.  As much as we might like to think that sexual violence is a problem of the past, our own words betray us and remind us that violence and sex still interact all too often.

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