Profiles

Misogyny: Do women get a bad rap in hip-hop?

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BIANCA MIKAHN

Bianca Mikahn is no stranger to being one of few women in a boy's town. Another woman with a rapping brother (Cameron Shaw), Bianca earned her stripes in the rap world by being the only woman MC in the band Paradox. Prior to this movement, though, Mikahn was smashing sets all over Denver and beyond with her raw poetry that, no doubt, contributed to the hard-hitting rhyme structure she's become known for as an MC.

Misogyny, according to Bianca, is almost as powerful as an unspoken behavior as it is a blatant act of disrespect. Her debut album, Left Fist Evolution, is her true stance as an independent woman in the hip-hop world, and even then, she says, her womanhood remained a topic of discussion in the decision making. Bianca speaks to the heart of striking that balance.

Westword: What exactly drives misogyny in hip-hop?

It's something that I've been having a lot of conversations about with so-called good dudes, who play their part into uplifting the Queens and things like that. There are a couple of angles to it. Hip-hop started with such a male base in a male-dominated society, and trying to work that out and get people used to having female MCs was hard. Even from things like the cadence: Our voices are different, and it draws up a different preference. From the scientific part of that to your crew being concerned about how you're dressing.

That's a conversation that I had with a producer recently, who said, "How naked can you get?" Conversations about whether or not I was going to put my picture on my CD -- that was a battle that I had to win because I didn't want to put my face on my debut album. I wanted the art to just ride. I have all these aspects of me, and I have all these sensual moments, you know? I'm a woman. I have my love songs and my making-love songs, but you have to make strong decisions. You can be the "earth mother" or you can be the "concubine."

And the key is to find the balance?

To also take a stand and say that I'm a regular person, who works a regular job, and I'm involved with my community. It's easy for a woman to sound preachy when you go into anything beyond the most basic topics. A lot of guys know that your movement moves faster when there is a woman around. I've heard dudes say that "we've got a lot of work; we need more chicks." That's because a woman will do a lot of the grunt work and be at the heart of your movement, and they capitalize off of having one of the most powerful parts of the movement and not having the accolades represent that.

What's the solution?

You have to fight for your space without looking like you're fighting. When you're fighting, you're called a bitch and this and that. It's a tricky thing. There are a lot of things that I can say that many of my partners can't say. It makes you a politician depending on how you want to do your business. If you boss up in the traditional ways, they'll stop inviting you to the meetings.

[laughs] Which is funny, because then you run into your counterparts, dudes, who are more emotional and less professional than many women in the scene -- and they will never be called to that because they're men. It reflects the gender relations that exist in the grander world. It's all that confidence and knowing exactly what you want from the situation because they'll try and make you know what you want before you even know what's going on. It's a slippery slope.

Click through for a Q&A with Billie Jean

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Ru Johnson
Contact: Ru Johnson