The title “Hip Hop Generation Feminist” may seem hard to grasp for some, but Dr. Treva Lindsey wears this title proudly. Dr. Lindsey’s PhD is in History, but she came to her current department—Women and Gender Studies—and her cultural role as a “Hip Hop Generation Feminist” by applying a historical perspective to the images she saw every day in pop culture. She is intrigued by images that continue to be reproduced in generations of pop culture and how they evolve in response to social changes.
On November 20, 2013, as part of a series of educational events on American music, Dr. Shonekan hosted the event Hip Hop 101 at the Blue Note. The event included performances of spoken word poetry, spinning, hip hop music, and freestyle rap.
Dr. Shonekan’s current research examines how African youth have made musical hybrids by incorporating elements of American hip hop. Dr. Shonekan examines how this process influences the identities of young Africans, and discusses a concerning trend towards emulation.
Here, Dr. Lindsey talks about the struggle to escape the objectification of the female body without disengaging with sexuality completely. Not every sexual performance necessarily plays into objectification, but seeing a woman creating her own sexual narrative may be something that many viewers of hip hop artists are not yet comfortable with.
Dr. Lindsey tells us how her education as a historian has informed her work as a “Hip Hop Feminist." As a woman who grew up listening to and loving hip hop, Dr. Lindsey feels that because of her love for the genre, she is a necessary voice in its critique.
Dr. Lindsey’s newest project explores the prominent use of alter egos by those involved in Hip Hop culture. Dr. Lindsey even actively engages different alter egos of her own depending on whether she is in an academic or personal setting.
One of the things Dr. Lindsey finds so fascinating about hip hop is how it “holds a mirror up” to the issues in our society as whole. It was one of the first genres to talk about sex, sexual health, and societal issues directly, and hip hop continues to be a genre that reflects the cultural problems faced by every social group.
The controversy about Chris Brown’s violence towards Rihanna was re-ignited recently by his appearance and awards at the 2011 Grammys. Dr. Lindsey is disturbed by the way Chris Brown has been accepted back into the community without putting forth a concerted effort to change, and how, conversely, Rihanna has been criticized for her behavior with little consideration of her as the victim of an abusive relationship. This is a concentrated, publicized example of the unfair treatment and nonchalance towards relationship violence on the larger scale in the young, marginalized communities that Hip Hop connects with.