In addition to the opportunity to hear from female hip hop activists, my favorite part of this conference is that is was co-created (and recognized that way) by a current Barnard senior, Ebonie Smith. Colleges often benefit from student participation in creating conferences, I am thrilled that this conference is promoted as not just a Barnard College event but as a partnership with Ebonie Smith.
When it comes to the subject of hip-hop, feminists are seldom at a loss of words. Some, like Tipper Gore, have come dangerously close to infringing on First Amendment rights in their zeal to make misogynistic lyrics simply disappear, while others, like Sarah Jones, set out to turn the genre's often troublesome take on women on its head. For them, the "bling bling, bitches-and-hoes formula that dominates hip-hop today" marks not only a fantastically adolescent digression from reality (and a hypermasculine digression at that), but also a refusal to acknowledge women's participation in and radical influence on a historically male-dominated corner of the music industry (/Ms./ magazine, Oct./Nov. 2001).
In "Your Revolution," a satiric corrective to the self-proclaimed bad boys of hip-hop who delight in treating women badly, Jones sings: /"your revolution will not happen / between these thighs . . . / because the revolution, / when it finally comes, is gon' be real."/
The Africana Studies Program, the Barnard Center for Research on Women and Gender and Femmixx.com join in sponsoring sponsoring this conference, developed in conjunction with Barnard senior Ebonie Smith, to address the very real ways in which women are carving out space for themselves and their projects within a traditionally male-dominated industry. Increasingly, women are working as producers, deejays, emcees, and sound engineers, effectively reshaping what has been a long-standing and important medium for chronicling urban life in America into a vibrant and, yes, revolutionary platform for women artists and technological innovators.
By bringing together scholars in the field of women's and music studies, female artists, and feminists activists, "Gender Amplified" aims to move beyond familiar discussions of misogyny in hip-hop to show how women are using technology to redefine the very boundaries of music-making, not to mention their own roles in the process. Whether you're in the industry and looking to network with like-minded artists, or a music aficionado who wants a more nuanced understanding of one of the country's most exciting art forms, this is a conference you won't want to miss.