Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Social Conservatisms

Ta-Nehisi Coates observes that, for all the controversy over Common coming to the White House, hip-hop actually has pretty strong socially conservative roots. Of course, TNC isn't the only one who has observed this. But it did register something interesting: social conservatives don't like social conservatism -- when it's done by other people. Their social conservatism is good and salutary. Other people's social conservatism is reactionary and barbaric.

I might have first noticed this during "Islamo-fascism Awareness week", "that magical time of year when Republicans briefly pretend to care about gay rights." Iranian social conservatives want to stone homosexuals, while their American peers merely went wild over abolishing lengthy prison terms for them. And remember all the hell Dinesh D'Souza took when he forthrightly noted that part of the reason reactionary Islamic movements hate us is for our, well, freedoms? Yeah, that went over well.


Anonymous said...

I'm willing to grant that rappers are often pro-life. But by claiming that hip-hop is therefore socially conservative, you have to overlook the more salient fact that hip-hop glorifies sexual promiscuity. I don't object to casual sex in principle, but this sort of glorification must've contributed (in perhaps only a small way) to the collapse of the black family and the steady rise in out-of-wedlock birthrates in the black community.

The black out-of-wedlock birthrate is around 70 percent.

For blacks who finish high school and keep a job without having children before marriage, the poverty rate is less than 6 percent.

The overall rate is 24.7 percent.

A widespread embrace of sexual responsibility would do more to alleviate poverty in the black community than anything the government could dream up.

I like hip-hop, generally. But it stands in the way of this sort of embrace.

David Schraub said...

Obviously, many hip-hop songs do glorify casual sex. But there are plenty that don't (TNC mentions Goodie Mob's "Beautiful Skin", I'd add Ciara's chart-topping "Goodies" as another clear example). Moreover, even the more promiscuous themes in hip-hop tend to have strongly patriarchal overtones -- very attuned to the virgin/whore dichotomy -- which certainly have their place in conservative gender ideologies.