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"Pimps Up, Ho's Down" By T. Denean Sharpely Whiting

1101 words - 4 pages

I was intrigued. "Pimps Up, Ho's Down" is quite a name, and it instantly grabbed my attention. I imagined tales of back alley beat-downs, fur coats, canes and hundred-dollar bills rolled up to snort big lines of "blow". Then I read the sub-title"Hip Hop's Hold on Young Black Women" and realized that, far from a recounting of a real pimp's true-life experiences, this book was on a rather serious subject matter. Overcoming my disappointment, I proceeded to see what the author had to say on this matter.T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting (which I must say is an incredibly difficult name to type) is, according to the liner notes of this book, a Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies and French at Vanderbilt University. She was also a runway model during her graduate studies at Brown University (which she makes mention of, and seemingly apologizes for in the prologue to this book). In the prologue, she explains her relationship with academia, the modeling industry and hip hop, and states her purpose for writing this book. "As a member of the hip hop generation, I am continually intrigued by the ways in which hip hop sets the tone for how women--myself included--think and act. I have written this book as a way to explore how and why we women do the things we do, what hip hop has to say about it all, and what we have to say back."Although not a huge fan of hip hop music, I am (technically) a member of the male gender and therefore always willing to listen when a female says she's going to talk about how and why women do the things they do. It was in this frame of mind that I read the introduction and then embarked on Chapter One.Adequately titled "I See the Same Ho", Dr. (I think) Sharpley-Whiting, offers evidence that there exists a direct correlation between consumption of hip hop videos and sexually-transmitted disease, drug and alcohol abuse, and number of sex partners among girls. This correlation has been alleged before regarding popular media, particularly with violence on film and on television. Sharpley-Whiting cites evidence for her claim, and continues by describing the female beauty aesthetic now evident in the male-dominated hip hop culture which glorifies the "fairer-skinned, ethnically mixed, or of indeterminate ethnic/racial origins, with long, straight, or curly hair". She seems to be making sense when she enters into a prolonged description of Brazilian women, the Brazilian sex trade, and how both have come to play a huge role in hip hop music and culture. I was, admittedly, a bit confused. Finally, Sharpley-Whiting explains that this phenomena has imposed yet another seemingly impossible standard that young black women feel forced to try and conform to. I was relieved, because until that point I wasn't exactly sure why I was reading so much about Snoop Dogg in Rio de Janeiro and the girls of Brazil.In the next chapter of her book, Sharpley-Whiting discusses a subject which has been touched on but never really discussed fully, the...

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