Domestic Violence Illustrated in Hip Hop Videos

As an avid listener of hip hop and rap, I am pretty familiar with the different types of vulgar statements and crude comments towards opposites sexes. Most hip hop and rap songs are about sex, love, money, drugs, and other things paired with catchy, head bopping beats. I don’t really watch the music videos to the songs I listen to, but as I was writing my last blog, I was decided to listen to a song by a rapper I have been listening to named Kevin Gates on youtube. Kevin Gates is a 28 year old rapper from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is pretty much an up and coming rapper, and he was named to the 2014 XXL Freshman Class- among the rest of the top new rappers and artists who have bright futures ahead of them. I was really in the mood to hear a song of his called Satellites, and to understand why the song is called Satellites I had to do a little thinking beyond the lyrics. I thought, what would being torn between his girl and his hustle have anything to do with a satellite. Well, being that a satellite is an outside object controlled by something it once was attached to, Kevin Gates is being controlled by his hustle because he depends on it, but his girl wants him to stay home with her.

I decided to take a little break in my writing to decompress myself and I watched the music video. As the music video progressed, the situation between Kevin Gates and his girl worsened as he got deeper and deeper into his hustle. My reason for writing this post is because of one particular scene where he wakes up in the middle of the night, when he gets a call from a client in need of whatever it is that he deals. He wasn’t going to deny easy money, as any successful hustler would tell you, and he went to get up from bed and do his business. However, his girl woke up in this process and she was visibly upset. The expression on Kevin Gates face said that he was tired of her trying to control him and tell him what to do, and he looked frustrated. As she gets up to make him stay, he grabs her and throws her rather forcefully back onto the bed. As he gets ready to walk out the door, the negative physical contact between the two continues. As soon as I saw this, the idea of domestic violence came popped straight into my head. Although no one was really hurt during this little altercation, what makes it okay for a rapper playing himself in a music video to grab a girl forcefully by the shoulders, shake her, and then throw her onto the bed? I am very sure that kids younger than I have seen this music video, and what if they see it and think that it is okay? Have a look, skip to about 1:35

My mind started going into gender studies mode, and I started to wonder if maybe domestic violence was a pattern in his music videos. Just like I had thought, domestic violence is depicted yet again in his music video for a song called ‘Posed To Be In Love. In this song, he raps about the girl he is supposed to be in love with, although they broke up, and how she she left him to be in the terrible relationship she is in now. When his ex girl comes home late at night, her new boyfriend is up drunkenly waiting for her, and when he sees her, he gets mad and beats her. She is seen thereafter in the bathroom crying with a big bruise on her face. Is Kevin Gates trying to show us something here? We all know that beating a woman is bad, and is a cowardly thing to do as a man. Instead of hiding from it, Kevin Gates is not afraid to show that domestic violence exists in everyday relationships. I personally feel a little bit uncomfortable watching a woman being beaten, so I wouldn’t want someone younger than me to watch a music video like this one. What do you guys think? Possibly he grew up in a situation like this one in a rough childhood in New Orleans. Do you think it is okay to broadcast such actions when he knows possibly millions of people will see the video? Let me know! Here’s a link to the video by the way, skip to about 1:20!

Final Reflection: A Post on Society & Sex

Upon being asked the question of what the most important and influential concept to understanding the relationship between sex and society covered in this semester, I began to think about all the different concepts talked and read about in class. When thinking about everything, I began to see connections between different terms that came up throughout the semester that were discussed that I had never seen before. The concepts are all fairly different, yet are all still related in some ways because of the manner that society has been formed over the years. Agents of socialization, sex education, social constructions, and heteronormativity have all become interconnected, creating an environment of hostility towards people who do not identify as heterosexual.

The agents of socialization people are exposed to impact their views on everything in life. However, their views on sex are affected more so than some other aspects of life are. The socialization of sex and sex education has a more prevalent impact on how a person forms their ideas and views on sex. The environment a person was raised in, their religion, schooling experience, family, friends, and the media all heavily influence the formation of what sex means and should mean to a person. But, this can be dangerous- with the amount of societal constructions (such as what “good” or “normal” sex is, gender, etc.)  that exist today, it is easy for the manner in which a person was socialized to negatively affect their views on sex or gender. For example, many religions do not condone homosexuality, so if someone is raised in that environment, it is likely they would judge and discriminate anyone who is homosexual.

SInce gender is a social construction, it easy to stereotype and discriminate against those who do not fit into the gender binaries that exist today (boy and girl). So, those who appear as  lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual, or transgender are easily stereotypes and judged. The heteronormative ideals that are held by the majority of the people in this country also lead to stigmas and discrimination. When people who have other sexual orientations other than heterosexual, they are often mistreated by society and can even be susceptible to violence, sexual violence in particular (as seen in the video of the transgender man who used the bathroom of a New York McDonald and was beat for it by the manager, yet was charged for a misdemeanor when in actuality he was the victim ).

Over the years, this problem has perpetuated. It has become easier for discrimination and violence to occur without any repercussion on the perpetrator. The connections between these terms and these societal constructions and manifestations all lend to why society is as it is today and why people discriminate, act violently toward, and outcast nonheterosexual people. Having a good understanding of all these terms allows for a person too see the interconnectedness and understand why these horrible things occur. It allows for people to be aware of  the problem and not lend to it or be an enabler.

What’s Sex Got To Do With… The NFL?

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you most probably have heard about the assault charges that have been brought against NFL player Ray Rice.  Almost a year ago, Rice was caught on camera knocking his now wife, then fiancé, unconscious on an elevator and then carelessly dragging her lifeless body out the elevator. Continue reading

Spotlight on…Magdalene House and Thistle Farms

In 1997, the Magdalene House was founded by Becca Stevens, a priest from Vanderbilt’s campus.  Magdalene House and Thistle Farms both work hand in hand to provide a safe and helpful community to women who have survived sex trafficking, prostitution, an abusive relationship, and/or addiction.  Magdalene House and Thistle Farms work together to help the lives of these women, but specifically Magdalene House is the residential community and Thistle Farms is their “social enterprise” (


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The connection between domestic violence, mental health, and “the escape”

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and any other factors. In this essay, I plan to analyze it as being especially detrimental to women’s health, both mentally and physically. This approach yielded more details because the reported prevalence of women being victims of domestic violence is higher than men. I am not trying to make a claim that men do not experience domestic violence, but with the ideologies of hegemonic masculinity and the pressure to maintain a tough image, it makes sense why men fail to report their own cases of domestic violence.
Before delving deeper into the topic, I think it’s beneficial to get some exposure to the statistics surrounding this issue.
• 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
• Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults.
• Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men
• Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
• Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner.
• 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
• Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults.
• Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men
• Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
• Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner.
Domestic violence is more common than one may think. It is a issue that a person may have found others in once or twice, but loosely placed themselves into the victim’s shoes. As we look around and see this issue occurring in everyday life, it’s difficult not to ponder a few questions: What truly defines domestic violence? Why do the women who face domestic violence stay with their abuser? How does this issue tie into identity as a whole? Is this a women’s health issue?
For those who don’t have a full grasp on the meaning of domestic violence, it is noteworthy that the term is a mosaic of negative acts; there is no single act that encompasses the entire definition.
The US Department of Justice defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
From this definition alone, it’s easy to see why domestic violence is such a common issue.

Moreover, Tyler Perry is a producer who explores the mental and physical detriments of domestic violence. In all of his movies, there’s always at least one woman experiencing abuse. His productions, in essence, follow a formula, where he presents a timeline of how women escape from this physical and mental abuse.
For example, in his production Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Perry presents the audience with two characters: Helen (the protagonist so to speak) and Charles (the antagonist). Helen had the marriage that most women aspire to have. She was a stay at home wife, lived in a luxurious mansion, drove only expensive cars, and was married to a prestigious lawyer. Beforehand, the couple experienced an unbreakable love and their 18 years of marriage was a testament to this. When Charles started having intercourse with a mistress, his relationship with Helen started to become less than ideal. He would dodge the love of his wife, leaving her alone most nights. He would five her little attention, often treating her like a pet rather than spouse. He would say things to break her down mentally, often leaving her distressed and pondering what she could do to save her broken marriage. Helen is eventually beaten and dragged out of her own house, later to find out that she has been replaced by her husband’s mistress.

During a conversation with her Aunt, Helen seems immensely bitter with her own actions rather than her husband’s actions. She explains that her husband has stripped all her ties with her family, repressed her true identity, and developed her into someone who resembles a leech. She has no money, she has no clothes…All of her possession are essentially gifts from her previously loyal husband. She has never had a job, and doesn’t have substantial education to jump into the workforce. This ultimately causes Helen to experience mental distress, and she later shows obvious signs of depression.
(I will not spoil the entire movie, but if you enjoy empowered endings then please go watch this film!)

This movie highlights one of the many reasons women feel they can’t escape their abuser and even depicts the overall effect of domestic violence. In this particular case, Helen did not escape because of financial reasons. Throughout her 18 years, she has always had financial security. This is something that has never been a struggle for her, and the thought of having nothing gives her extreme anxiety. Other reasons women may feel escaping their abuser is farfetched are fear that the abuser will come after her and her family, fear that their children will not have the experience of a full household, or fear that that no one else will “love” them like their abuser (which is ironic but it’s something that is actually said alot). All of these things have something in common, they all stem from fear itself.

This movie also illustrates the pivotal role domestic violence has on identity deconstruction. Like many other women who experience domestic violence, Helen lost her true self. She started to see her issue as something that was initiated by her actions, and this caused rising confusion about her role as a wife and a woman. Women start to analyze their self worth and purpose amidst the catastrophe and this does lead to a great deal of distress (as seen in the film).

So is domestic violence a women’s health issue?
It is in my own opinion. It’s an issue that can lead to mental distress and eventually mental disorders. Domestic violence is not discussed enough, and this becomes problematic when women are experiencing the abuse. The world must loudly speak out, discuss the resources for the victims, and show that victims are not alone. This approach could help a victim or two who feel they’ve had enough but have no recognition of what to do next.

In your opinion….
What are some strategies the nation could take to ease the cases of domestic violence? Do you think cracking down on the laws would help? Do you think longer sentence time would get abusers attention? But I’m also interested to know…Do you think this is a women’s health issue?

“Enough”…is enough

In America, many people are living a life where they are sadly abused by their significant other.  Many who are afraid to leave, which could be for many reasons like they do not know where they could go, they do not know if they could find someone else who could and love and provide for them, or maybe they are just simply scared of getting themselves or their family hurt.

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i Am unbeatable

Donna Ferrato is a photographer who is well known for her determination to end domestic violence. Her photographs have been published in The New York Times Magazine, Life, Time, USA Today and many other magazines and articles. She tells stories through pictures focused on women who get out of abusive relationships and free of their abuser. She takes photographs that express abusive violence from all perspectives: the victim, the abuser, the audience.

On September 12th, she displayed her first exhibition of her series, “I Am Un-Beatable”, in Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery in Cohen Memorial Hall. “I Am Un-beatable” is a documented photo collection about a girl name Sarah who made it out of an abusive relationship. She met her boyfriend at a very young age. He was 18 and she was 13 when they started dating. He saw how vulnerable she was and used many tactics to make her think he was the one for her. He got her pregnant and made her move in with him and his family. Leaving behind her life, he persuaded her into thinking they will be a happy family. Her fairytale story didn’t turn out to be much of a fairytale. He started mentally, physically, and emotionally abusing her. This isn’t the life she had expected. The moment he broke her jaw was the moment she feared staying with him more than leaving him. She eventually broke free him and moved out on her own with her two kids.

The argument of “I Am Un-Beatable” is that the US needs to stop making domestic violence part of culture. About 25% of women in the US are in an abusive relationships. If kids are involved, 75% of the boys will begin to participate in domestic violence at age 12. These statistics from the exhibition help to show why domestic violence is such a big issue in the US. Females are the easiest target in our society, especially when it comes to sex and getting raped. Donna is trying to empower women to take back their power and stop allowing men get away with hitting them. Male dominance is shown through most her pictures and the males seem to always break all their limits. Males use different tactics into making the female think he loves her. After he has her fooled, it when he changes. The males are violent towards their girlfriends or wives because they feel the need to be a man. The definition of being a man is being in control of what he needs or wants. In most cases, he wants to make sure he has access to sex whenever he wants. Our culture seems to value the male orgasm.

I connected Donna’s photo documentary exhibition to Kristen Barber “Sex and Power” article on heterosexuality and power. Males use sex as a way of having power over many females. Majority of domestic violence is sexually related. The expression of masculine traits such as aggression, power, and violence during sex shapes the meaning of sexuality both for men and women. (45) The female role in sex is to be the submissive and say “yes” to sex. It is all based off what the men desires. When the male doesn’t get what he want, he gets aggressive and very demanding. Sex is viewed as a social power. The male and female get so used to the social constructs society has formed that it becomes part of culture. Females are used to being powerless and males are used to being the aggressor. As a result, many domestic violent situations aren’t reported until it is death threatening because both genders are used to being in these type situation. Females don’t leave their abuser either due to fear, family history or dependency. Women may have less freedom to explore, discover, and play with their own desires and pleasures, but they are not completely powerless. (45) Females need to get back their dignity and demand more control or power.

The Ray Rice situation is a great example of a heterosexual abusive relationship.

As you can see in the video, a heated argument escalated, caused Ray Rice to hit his fiancé. A male hitting a woman is looked down upon in our society. He was knocked his wife unconscious in an elevator as if that is normal. He didn’t call for help or try to see if she was okay. The most ironic part about this situations is that his wife didn’t leave him after being beaten. She asked the public to stop being cruel toward Ray Rice. She isn’t thinking about how embarrassing the video looked, but rather the NFL not cut Ray Rice’s income.

Domestic violence is so common in the US. Sex, power, and relationships may or may not have some correlation between each other. Which sex should control the relationship? Does it matter which sex control the relationship? If the person who is has more control over sex have more power in the relationship? When involved in an abusive relationship, is sex a reason the victim (female) stays in the relationship? After answering these questions, if a male was being sexually abused by a female, would he be considered less of a man, or a “punk”?



As a class we went to this gallery on campus were we looked at Donna Ferrato’s photography which looks at domestic violence. Ferrato’s pictures and event in the gallery is called “I AM UNBEATABLE”. Ferrato started “I AM UNBEATABLE because it aims to educate through photography to understand the dangers associated with domestic violence. To recognize the warning signs. To know that love has nothing to do with violence.”( This video above shares many of the photographs taken by Ferrato and shares some stories and statistics about domestic violence.

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After attending this class event I thought it would be a great opportunity to write an engaging assignment on it because I took a lot from it and also took some neat pictures from this gallery. This event called “I AM UN-BEATABLE is about everyone having the right to live free from violence. Our society today we hear a lot about domestic violence happening between relationships and married couples. This class event we looked and discussed domestic violence through pictures and a short video clip that was presented. This mission of I AM UN-BEAT-ABLE is to raise awareness, educate and prevent domestic violence against women and children through real stories of real people (


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