A few weeks ago, I watched a Dispatches documentary on Channel 4 called Rape in the City. You can still catch it here on 4OD but you only have 12 days left, so hurry. Basically, journalist Sorious Samura was investigating the horrific 'trend' of teenage girls being gang raped by groups of young men and he specifically highlighted that it is becoming more and more common within the black community.
There were many interesting insights revealed by the documentary but what I picked up on was the lack of respect that the young black boys interviewed had for females. Yes, there is the argument that a girl should respect herself first before she expects respect elsewhere - this argument was attributed to the instances where girls initially agree to link a group of guys but then try to back out when they arrive and see 25 guys waiting for them! But there were also instances where rape was used as a form of punishment for snitching or simply because the guys deemed a girl unattractive and wanted to humiliate her. So my question here is when did these young guys lose respect from the female species.
Naturally, Samura brought up the excuse that is used time and time again - music and hip hop's negative portrayal of women is polluting the minds of our youngsters. I am usually one to stand up and argue against this theory - I watch violent films, I listen to hip-hop but I have my own mind and have never acted in a way because a rapper told me to... but is that true? Beyonce had me shaking my booty in the clubs doing the uh-oh dance and Flo-Rida has me dancing provocatively while getting low low low. So can you really say, the things you watch, the music you listen to and the media you expose yourself to doesn't affect your actions and your thoughts, even subconsciously.
What is the feeling about video vixens, glamour models and even the entertainment industry in general where for females especially, sex is how you get ahead. In Hollywood, as an actress your career has a direct correlation to your ranking on Maxim's top 100 Sexiest Women list. Even Beyonce, with her booty shaking and 'make sex with the camera' videos is contributing to the 'male gaze' ideal where women act in a way that makes men want to get physical with them and females want to be the girl that men want to get physical with. Is this culture ruining the way that men see women and therefore the way they respond to them? As previously mentioned, in the words of one of the teens interviewed in the documentary, a guy isn't going to respect a women if she doesn't respect herself. Over the years, females in the entertainment industry who have been described as using their sexuality to promote their career have argued that they are not being exploited at all. That it is a form of empowerment, being sexy is natural and they relish the feeling of making guys succumb to them. But isn't this slightly delusional. Are these women still not submitting themselves to the sexual fantasies of men and therefore not in as much control as they convince themselves to be? With these ideals, then can you blame young men seeing girls as sexual objects first before anything else?
I am not judging here, but putting the thought out there that there is a correlation and that our present culture is to blame for some of the negative things within the community. Some may argue that, its not just the black community, that it's the way the world is, sex sells and even in the days of Marylin Monroe, it was the same. Some females may argue that well if they are getting paid and no-one is forcing them to do anything then what is wrong with that. But clearly something needs to change because I think as the years go by, values that some people may call old fashioned but which I consider to hold together the moral fabric of society, are slowly being unwoven.
And as if it was meant to be, FantasyRide has been invited to 'You're Beautiful, Woman', an event put together by some fabulous ladies including Ronke Adeyemi over at The Musings of Ondo Lady blog. This annual event celebrates black female beauty inside and out and aims to motivate and inspire women to recognise their own self worth in every avenue of their lives. There will be seminars and workshops covering topics such as styling, fashion, natural hair and beauty, relationships, fitness, financial advice and inner beauty. It takes place on Saturday 15 August at Highgate Newton Community Centre. Tickets are only £5 so see the website for more information: http://www.yourebeautifulwoman.com/. Hope to see you there!