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Rapped around our fingers

It may be rap music with some rather serious sexist overtones, but it’s as dangerous or safe for character-building as Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2008 23:08 IST

The next time you’re worried about your children actively nodding to a bodacious buzz that describe a [unprintable] or an [unprintable], don’t fret. It may be rap music with some rather serious sexist overtones, but it’s as dangerous or safe for character-building as Wagner’s Ring Cycle. The word is out that it’s “unlikely” that listening to lyrics creates attitudes that did not previously exist. This is not a statement from Dr Dre or the Slim Shady but from researchers in a study rather unrhythmically named ‘Ambivalent Sexism and Misogynistic Rap Music: Does Exposure to Eminem Increase Sexism?’

In other words, when 50 Cent sings about ‘put me in your [unprintable] and [unprintable] [unprintable] [unprintable]’ (Baby If You Get On Your Knees) or, for that matter, early 20th century Delta bluesman Robert Johnson, sings about [unprintable] [unprintable] till the [unprintable] runs down my [unprintable] (Travelling Riverside Blues) chances are you’ll pick up the sexism if you’re already a sexist. This was confirmed by the experiment in which three groups — those who didn’t listen to music, those who listened to the Beastie Boys’ non-misogynistic classic Sabotage, and those who listened to Eminem’s no-hold-barred Kill You — reacted in the same sexist way when listening to any kind of rap.

Which suggests that the genre of rap music itself, with its mythologies and baggage evokes a certain behaviour. So what if Baba Sehgal does his version of a Meera’s bhajan? The mind boggles.