Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Powerful letter about violent and demeaning media

Today I got a very powerful email from my friend N. Amongst a tiny bit of catch-up was a letter from Marilyn Doucette-Robinson. It is so powerful, it is worth your reading.

Let me know what you think,

An Open Letter to Cornell "Nelly" Haynes, Jr., et al
Published in the St. Louis American
March 18, 2004

Dear Nelly, et al:

When artists develop a Arap, it conveys a message. When artists create a video, the intent is the same. More important, for whom is this message intended? In your genre -- Hip Hop -- the target audiences, most unassailably, are our youth. Ample social science literature links pornography to violence against women and girls. Media images and sounds are a form of social influence -- socialization.

Socialization has been defined as the process of "fitting or training for a social environment" or "to organize group participation in." Think about socialization as a marketing tool, to get consumers to buy what you are selling or to shape an audience's behavior to act in a particular way. Tip Drill, the video, is that tool. It targets our children and our teens. Hence, why I write:

I understand. Tip Drill is designed to be shown after hours -- after whose hour? Teens and children, not their parents, are more likely to lie awake late nights for "Uncut" or "Derrty" video versions. Parents would be responsible for intentionally exposing their children to materials and images that are considered age-inappropriate. Most are not intentional. The reality is that no parent -- regardless of race, class or creed -- can design foolproof barriers to the media's pervasive intrusions.

Ulester Douglas, Director of Men Stopping Violence, Inc. says that "this society has contempt for women." Miami Herald Columnist, Leonard Pitts, said that the University of Colorado's head coach, Gary Barnett, expressed near "Taliban-level of contempt for women."

Does this society feel contempt for women? Do male Hip-hop artists find all women contemptible or just the women who party-up for a spot in their videos? How do men decide which women to debase and which to humiliate?

I ask the latter question, because society would like to blame violence against women on women: on how she dresses, on how she behaves or on how she positions herself. Violence against women happens to women whether clothed from head to toe -- or not, whether aged three months or 92.

Rape and serial killing of women is at an all-time high in our communities, armed forces, college campuses and homes. The men who are responsible for rapes of women and girls are men who refer to any woman as a bitch or a 'ho. They are men who sit silent as other men dishonor women during conversations. They are men who carry out the actual commissions of rape, domestic violence or any other form of sexual assault. They are men who construct venues and create art forms for the purpose of objectification, humiliation and degradation of women. They are men, who boast about "big pimpin'."

But in Hip Hop, booty shaking women are not the only ones getting "pimped" for a buck by the media moguls. Whom else do you see? And, who was it that said "hey, it must be the money?"

Peace & Love,

Marilyn Doucette-Robinson
Senior Program Coordinator
The Leanne Knot Violence Against Women Prevention Project
Tulane University, Southern University at New Orleans and the University of New Orleans Consortium
6823 St. Charles Ave.,
New Orleans, LA 70118

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