“We don't really see a problem in music because that s**t makes you want to dance”: Reflections on possibilities and challenges of teaching gender through hip-hop
Hussen, Tigist Shewarega
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Hip-hop culture has been criticised as sexist and misogynist. It is also condemned for being exploitative of black women’s identity and for perpetuating gendered and sexualised assumptions about female musicians. This perspective explores pedagogical possibilities and challenges of using popular culture, such as hip-hop music performances, in a gender studies course. We critically reflect on our experiences of working with second-year students exploring gender performances in music. We encouraged students to analyse music of their own choice within the hip-hop genre, interrogating gender performances beyond simplistic good/bad or right/wrong body and sexual conduct. Data collected in online chat rooms on the teaching and learning platforms show students’ enthusiasm in engaging with hip-hop as subject matter. However, in their analysis quite often students struggled to move away from the dominant narrative of hip-hop as sexist and misogynist, their critique focusing on the exaggerated femininity and hypersexuality of female hip-hop artists. Students struggled to critically explore other counter-narratives and counter-representations of the performances. We reflect on the possibilities and challenges of using hip-hop as subject matter in feminist pedagogy.