This Stanley Crouch article is good to see: more women are beginning to stand up to rap music.

The most successful black women's magazine, Essence, is in the middle of a campaign that could have monumental cultural significance.

Essence is taking on the slut images and verbal abuse projected onto black women by hip hop lyrics and videos.

The magazine is the first powerful presence in the black media with the courage to examine the cultural pollution that is too often excused because of the wealth it brings to knuckleheads and amoral executives.

This anything-goes-if-sells attitude comes at a cost. The elevation of pimps and pimp attitudes creates a sadomasochistic relationship with female fans. They support a popular idiom that consistently showers them with contempt. We are in a crisis, and Essence knows it.

I've long wondered how women I know and respect can listen to and enjoy music that so completely trashes them for profit. Good, Christian women just shrug it off and say they don't take the lyrics seriously. The songs are singing about other women, not them, so who cares?

Well, I certainly wouldn't patronize an industry that held men in contempt. I think many women underestimate and misunderstand the way men view them as sexual objects to be dominated and penetrated; when women give their tacit approval to things like rap music they also demonstrate to the men around them that they accept their designated sexual role as well. Which, of course, maybe they do.



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