UW-Madison Professor speaks on misogyny in hip-hop

UW-Madison Professor continues the conversation of hypermasculinity across music genres at a Men Against Sexual Assault meeting.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Alexander Shashko, a lecturer in the Afro-American Studies department at UW-Madison, spoke to students about misogyny and hypermasculinity in hip-hop at a Men Against Sexual Assault meeting Wednesday evening.

At the event, which took place in Grainger Hall, Professor Shashko discussed the history of hip-hop and its formation, along with other genres of popular music and American culture as a whole.

“All around the world, hip-hop has been valuable to those who are oppressed,” Shashko said. “But with anything you love, you must be willing to talk about the limitations.”

Shashko said he tries to listen to new releases, even from controversial artists, so he can have conversations surrounding misogyny with others, a conversation that is more prevalent now than ever before.

He said that popular music and figures within it, such as country music and Elvis Presley, had always contained violent and misogynistic content, but hip-hop has found a reputation for overt misogyny, particularly within the gangsta rap subgenre. With gangsta rap, Shashko said, the voice that hip-hop supplied to marginalized black males in America would lash out against other marginalized people.

Colleen Whitley, president of MASA, wanted Shashko to speak at a meeting after taking one of his classes.

“With Men Against Sexual Assault, we try to explore and create a safe space for men to not fit into that box of strength or violence as their only valid emotion and to become individuals,” Whitley said. “In his class, the way he expresses himself shows that individuality and shows that men can talk about these issues and stand up against misogyny.”

While Shashko is no stranger to lecturing, he said there were differences between being a guest speaker and teaching in his class.

“[Lecture] is a more effective space to weave the tension between hip-hop’s strengths and limitations,” Shashko said. “[As a guest speaker], it is more like giving a disclaimer: ‘here are all the reasons gangsta rap is important, and now we’re going to get to the topic at hand.’”

Whitley said she was pleased with Shashko’s speech and hopes to continue this conversation on a broader scale.

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