We cannot reduce the ignorance of people like Mourdock and Akin to sound bites or place it in the category of election-season inanity. Their statements are the toxic runoff of our culture’s failure to prevent and address sexual violence in all its forms. The statistics stun: The high estimate of the number of women raped each year in the United States is 1.3 million, 54 percent of rapes are unreported, and a woman’s chance of being raped is one in five. The president’s elementary stance is nice but won’t fix anything on its own; what must change is the culture itself.
Given its well-documented and inexcusable problems with sexism, hip-hop might not seem a wise place to look to start making that change. But that fact actually makes the medium more ripe for reformers. Moreover, as one of the dominant, storytelling-driven art forms consumed and made by young people, rap provides a way for survivors and allies to testify, argue, and change hearts and minds. And as a song released this past week by the promising young rapper Angel Haze proves, rap’s potential as a weapon against rape culture isn’t merely academic.