Podcast, Pop Culture, Race & Politics

Why Ashley Judd Was 100% Right…And 100% Wrong

They're raping everyone out here

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or one of Big Baby Davis’s boobs, you’ve undoubtedly been made aware of the negative comments Ashley Judd made about hip-hop in her upcoming memoir, “All That Is Bitter And Sweet

“Along with other performers, YouthAIDS was supported by rap and hip-hop artists like Snoop Dogg and P. Diddy to spread the message…um, who? Those names were a red flag.

As far as I’m concerned, most rap and hip-hop music — with it’s rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as ‘ho’s’ — is the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny.”

Predictably, these remarks set off an internet firestorm. There were reluctantly pro Ashley articles, pro-Ashley articles, Ashley for president articles, reluctantly anti Ashley articles, anti-Ashley articles, all white b*tches must die articles, and all black n*ggers must be castrated articles. As of 11:05pm EST Wednesday night, googling “ashley judd hip-hop” returned 3,620,000 results.

It’s been a little over a week since these comments were made public. In the time since, after apparently receiving death threats from everyone from Diggy Simmons to Andrew Bynum, Ashley has “clarified,” stating (from her interview with Russell Simmons on Global Grind):

…My intention was to take a stand to say the elements that are misogynistic and treat girls and women in a hyper-sexualized way are inappropriate. The male dominance that is displayed, and the reinforcement of girls’ and women value and identify as primarily sexual, is not helpful in any artistic expression, in any cultural form, whether its country music or in television story lines.”

She even gives a shout-out to hip-hop’s richest and most notable nihilist.

“As for the artists themselves who I mention, I write about being friendly with and enjoying Curtis Jackson’s company, then being confused when on stage his .50 personae comes out.”

(I just have to say that I’m absolutely tickled that she referred to Fiddy as .50.)

As far as whether Judd’s initial comments — particularly the “rape-culture” remark — hold water, let me share something with you.

I originally was going to title this “25 Reasons Why Ashley Judd Was Right,” and, instead of creating my own reasons, I planned to just take “rape-sympathetic” lyrics from 25 different songs made by uber-popular artists in the last two or three years and list those instead. Each genre of rap — from the South and the mixtapes to the “conscious” and the club — would have been included.

Yes, rap is much, much more than running trains, putting p*ssies in sarcophaguses, and bruising esophaguses, but no with a working brain and even one working ear can deny that hip-hop is EXTREMELY misogynistic. You can argue and debate exactly why it’s so women-hating, but you just cannot ignore the fact that it is, it has been for (at least) 20 years, and it’s getting worse.

With that being said…

I haven’t read Faith Evans’ “Keep the Faith: A Memoir.” I also haven’t read Janet Jackson’s “True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself.” And, although the cover looks nice, I’ll probably never read Victoria Rowell’s “Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva.”

But, although I’ve never read any of those books, I’m 100% certain that none of them contain any disparaging remarks about country music, grunge, metal or any other genre of music where popular artists have been accused of being misogynistic. While every person obviously has a right to speak up about injustices, I’m not so certain that hip-hop needs a country music scion to police it.

Yes, these statements were published in her memoirs, and (good) memoirs are basically published diaries — completely naked accounts of your life and your thoughts –but that’s actually my point: Why did she even feel the need to go there? I mean, when I eventually write my memoirs — “The Passion of The Deez” coming in July of 2031 — you can be certain that I’m not going to devote an entire paragraph to my feelings about Billy Ray Cyrus or Johnny Cash or Boris Yeltzen or anyone or anything else I really have no business writing about.

This isn’t a race thing either. If a white person with a bit more of a relationship to hip-hop or even a pop culture critic like a Chuck Klosterman made these remarks, fine. But, an actress whose two most notable claims to fame are A) coming out of Naomi Judd’s vagina and B) rooting for a college basketball team?¹ Miss me with that.

Anyway, people of VSB.com, what you do think about Judd’s statements? Do you think she had a valid point? And, even if you think she might have a point, how do you feel about someone like her publicly expressing it?

The carpet is yours.

¹To her credit, Judd does have a very extensive and very laudable history of women’s rights advocacy. I was told about this after I posted the entry, and this knowledge has softened my stance quite a bit. Still, I prefer my hip-hop critics to have a bit more of a connection to hip-hop culture, though

—The Champ

If you haven’t purchased the paperback or the $9.99 Kindle version of “Your Degrees Wont Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime” yet, what the hell is stopping you?

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Starita34

    SECOND Yup, that’s how I-I-I-I do ;-)

  • Femster

    Oooh first?!? *grabs crotch and moonwalks*

  • eazy

    she went there for the publicity.

  • CMG = Not a Hip Hop head or serious fan. CMG = not a Jay-Z fan. However, CMG is a fan of eloquence, history and pop culture, so I’m currently reading Jay-Z’s Decoded. I have to say… reading his book has completely changed my reaction to Ashley Judd’s comments. I probably would have been a reluctant supporter of what she said, because the misogyny in hip-hop is ridiculously grotesque at times. However, learning where hip hop comes from, its diversity, and the danger in putting in all in one box marked POISONOUS RAPE CULTURE! doesn’t fix the problems rooted in the communuties where hip-hop is derived from.

    So I said all that to say, read a book, Ashley Judd. Preferably Jay-Z’s Decoded. (Even though I still think he’s an agent of the devil)

    Crystal Marie
    *insert shameless plug for http://www.awordorthree.com here*

  • SouthernQT2DC

    All you have to do is watch ANY video on BET after dark, and you’ll see she has a valid point…

    *drops down to get my eagle on*

  • max

    I’m mad I even know about this Ashley Judd foolishness, but the fact that there are less than 300 comments on this post right now compels me to add one of my own.

    This is nothing more than a classic case of people speaking out of school. She has a lot of influence and her initial remark was – if not exactly 100% untrue – completely unnecessary and irresponsible.

  • Corey

    First Deez and then second deez. She spoke on it because in all honesty who’s really going to contradict what she put out there? Most male dominated stuff is at a minimum mildly misogynistic. Even groups of men just choppin it up. On the flip side, music is an artform and art isn’t always about when you’re happy and in love prancing through a meadow of sugarplums while unicorns play harps and carebears ejaculate glitter on everyone. Art reflects reality (whether its yours or someone else’s).

  • P.

    The last time I heard Ashley Judd’s name in reference to something other than Kentucky basketball was… I got nothin.

  • IsOurChildrenLearning?

    ” I’m not so certain that hip-hop needs a country music scion to police it, and I’m definitely not certain why she even felt the need to go there.”

    I feel like her comments on rap were a couple of throwaway sentences that had little bearing on the main thesis of her book. Someone just got ahold of those words and made a bigger deal. Honestly, who gives a f*ck? I feel like people in our community sometimes prefer to get up in arms over perceived slights rather than getting up in arms about the real problems we have. This whole “nobody can say ANYTHING about ANYTHING that is perceived to be a part of our culture EVEN IF THEY’RE RIGHT isn’t helping the image of the community at all. Hit dogs holler.

  • Asia

    While she has a valid point I have to agree with Champ on his assessment on whether she should have been the one championing this point. I know when I heard about this on some hip hop station the first thing that came to my mind is “Ashley Judd listens to rap music”?. I find it hard to take her comments seriously especially if she hasn’t allowed herself to be exposed to all that hip hop culture has to offer.

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