Mobile Media

Rap & Cancer… What do they have in common?

And why couldn’t social media help?

While web 1.0 email services and basic Internet chat rooms revolutionized how people communicated in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it wasn’t until the inception of Networking Sites (SNSs) in 2005 and 2006 that the Internet played a vital role in engaging audiences with social movements (Ellison, 2008). While all groups of social networks, including Twitter, Facebook and Google+ in addition to the many others exist can and do support existing relationships are a critical campaign connecting people who connect with a stranger online for some provided aspect of their life. (Ellison, Steinfeld, Lampe; cited in Ellison, 2008) SNS’s. I’ll discuss how social media today has connected people who otherwise might not have connected. The first of these blog entries will through the lens of a 2005 “Bring Back The Music Campaign” before social media could be used as a tool for connecting and communication and compare it to the 2011 “Slut Walk” movement primarily promoted through social media, which became an international movement. The additional component of social media largely contributed to the Slut Walk’s campaign, with networks shared interest in the controversial movement from every end of the globe. Ellison explains, “Most sites support the maintenance of preexisting social networks, but others help strangers connect based on shared interests, political views, or activities” (Ellison, 2008 p.210).

Hip-Hop is infamous for its objectification of women’s bodies. Black women, in particular. Fashion and Beauty Editor Michaela Angela Davis of Essence magazine, whose key demographic black women, she explains and a NPR interview are notoriously underrepresented in Western pop-culture, and are further misrepresented in hip-hop lyrics, music videos and advertisements. Misrepresentations include the assumed unrealistic body type, a challenge women of all ethnicities face. But further than the unachievable perfect figure, the hip hop music industry has taken it several steps further dressing black woman provocatively, often salaciously dancing around a hip-hop star.

In 2005 Nelly, the famous hip-hop artist star released the song, “Tip Drill” … lyrics below, along with a music video featuring women in colorful bikinis giving the male musicians lap dances. The lyrics are almost inarguable offensive, however the “beat” isn’t bad, which some like Jennings say, Chris Rock even says hip-hop hasn’t been called out by larger audiences, joking in a comedy performance, “It is hard to defend I got holes in different area codes.”


You looking good in them shorts but they look better on the floor
Cause yous a tipdrill, cause yous a tipdrill

[Murphy Lee:]
Now ya see I wanna let you ride but the rubber might slide
Yous a tipdrill, girl you a tipdrill

Around the same time Nelly’s sister was also diagnosed with leukemia. What do these two have in common? A woman named Asha Jennings.

A former alumnus of Spelman College, now lawyer, Jennings led a nonprofit party to raise money for cancer. She reached out to the hip-hop artist Nelly, who offered to attend to bring additional exposure to the fundraiser. However, when Nelly’s controversial release “Tip Drill” was brought to Jennings and the other organizers’, and they warned Nelly’s agents of a potential protest, so he cancelled the event.

In a NPR interview , Jennings explains Nelly’s hypocrisy. She tries to understand how he could exploit the female body through represented misogyny in hip hop and yet, try to protect the image of his sister by helping with cancer awareness. She explains, “The issue was simply to raise the issue. If you feel it’s important to save your sister’s life and your sister is represented in society.”

Jennings in collaboration with Essence magazine created the campaign “Bring Back the Music” where they brought hip-hop that wasn’t exploitative to the public eye. Davis explains that misogyny in rap culture is a problem that has only been growing since the late 80s, that its degrading messages are outnumbering the rappers who had positive messages. She says to NPR, “The profits and identity that are intertwined in misogyny are a multi-layered problem that require a multi-layer solution.”

However, the solution only lasted a year or two and for the most part on the Essence website itself. There was a small amount of press coverage during the cancer fundraising debacle, a longer article found in CNN archives. However the hype was short-lived. The primary outlet of the 2005 version of social media was conversation between black women on magazine lived on the now defunct magazine message boards. Shanara R. Reid-Brinkley researcher found, “Much of the debate surfaced on the “Scribble boards” (Brinkley, 2008, p.238). While this “communal dialogue” produced revealing and often intimate frustrations that equated to a as Brinkley calls the message boards, a “safe space” that document the painful experiences women have when continuously being subjected to such misogynistic images, however these message boards have failed to launch a campaign with measureable changes. Today if one were to Google “Take Back the Music” an Indigogo crowdsourcing appears, there is a leftover Facebook page with the ghost of a presence and no twitter account to be found. Any remnants of a campaign are found in the bowels of archived CNN and other mass news organizations websites.

And the forbidding Error 404 on the Essence website.


boyd, d. & Ellison, N., (2007) Social Network sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13, 2010-230.

Reid-Brinkley, Shanara R., (2008) The Essense of Res(ex)pectability: Black Women’s Negotional of Black Femininity in Rap and Music Video.


Standing at group function I began chatting with a lovely woman who was talking about her daughter. The two husbands stood and we talked about the weather and travels and their careers and tehn avoided the obvious looming question to the wives, “So what do you do?

Women don’t generally like answers, “I’m a mom.” As that can be perceived as negative and lacking ambition towards a career. Fortunately I told her I was a former magazine editor and now finishing graduate school and she revealed that she has a masters in public policy and worked for the government. Then the next question, which the four of us avoided as well was the topic of childcare. In a world where grown adults are tippee-toeing around conversation regarding babies in fear of offending someone, why is it that employers seem to have no problem discriminating against pregnant women.

The woman who I assumed had worked in public policy her whole life later told me about how she was made redundant after she returned from her pregnancy leave. I asked her about laws that protected women from awful scenarios, but she shrugged her shoulders saying that it didn’t really matter, many of her friends experienced the same backlash. OnePoll conducted a study in 2013 that revealed, One in Seven women was removed from their job while on maternity leave.

She said that legal fees were astronomically expensive and they figured she’d find a job sooner or later. There were in fact laws that protect women who are pregnant, but often defending them comes with a high price tag.

Upon further study, she isn’t the only one who has experienced this atrocitiy. In 2013 two women who worked for Virgin Australia two women who worked for Virgin Australia were made redundant after one returned from pregnancy leave and the other had just announced she was pregnant. The settlement landed them $70,000 each, but still without a job.

Lawyer and columnist, Aleecia Murray who is a principal Lawyer at AM Legal wrote an op-ed piece for the ABC. She wrote a compelling piece both explaining why laws enacted by the government are critical to protecting women from discrimination, as well as why companies are struggling economically, often making redundancy a very real and honest reason for letting a dedicated employee go. Often however that employee is deemed unsatisfactory and does not meet the productivity needs that a small company needs to stay competitive in the professional landscape.

She explains that there is one alternative that isn’t viable or acceptable in her mind, acknowledge that women can’t have it all, a mantra started by feminist and author Anne-Marie Slaughter, wrote an opinion piece in The Atlantic whose work I’ve admired since becoming interested in this topic in America. Her commentary ends noting that the answer is changing the attitudes toward pregnant women, it is unfair to compare the productivity of a pregnant woman to that of a man.

One woman Joanne commented on Murray’s piece on 23 Oct 2013 by saying, “I suffered from anxiety, depression pre eclampsia as a result of the pressures placed on me by the bank to resign or accept a reduced role….A number of friends later confessed they had had the same experience with their previous employers.

This is commonplace and employers rely on the fact that new mums have a lot of pressure on them in coping with life changes that they will just drop it as I did.”

This is a sad reality for many mothers who face the stress and terror when they should be experiencing the joy of bringing a new life into the world.

A popular blog and media phenom, Mia Freedman’s site, has documented several mothers who experienced redundancy upon the birth or pending birth of their first child.

Journalist Emma Sorensen writes wrote about her painful experience hearing from her boss that her position was made redundant along with several others and she hoped she could “pop” by the going away party later that day.

Ultimately the most important question both employers and employees must ask is, “What is the goal?” Is the goal to create a fundamentally safe and productive workplace, or is the goal to let go of any future employees that show risk? What some companies need to realize is letting go of potentially risky employees means they’re at risk for breaking the law.

September 16th, 2014

The Internet has transformed many industries that handle the intimate details of a person’s life. Whether it is personal banking, genealogy, or health records people are continuing to aggregate the pieces of their life into a consolidated place: Their computer. However, more and more they consolidate personal information on their phones. Luckily Apple and other cell phone makers have created even fingerprint safety measures to protect people’s information. So while we outsource our personal information, people are also outsourcing their love lives.


The Internet used to play a large role in connecting people via or eHarmony. Both websites which used anonymity to connect people in their thirties or forties or fifties, people who were seeking a partner but had outgrown the weekend binge drinking scene or were no longer in environments that cultivated that dialogue.


With the extreme popularity and growth in both Internet dating and Facebook, a new dating phenomenon has emerged. Tinder. Tinder has taken advantage of the cell-phone obsession that most people have. Apple has enormous statistics about its popularity and to capitalize on that Tinder has taken a new angle and uses several mobile features, as well as modern relationship management pieces as well.


People are always on their phone and usually they’re most on their phone when they’re out and about. Tinder reenergizes the opportunity to meet someone face to face for the first time. Tinder filters people through the friends of friends, and most impressively Tinder has managed to become “cool”… and so people aren’t ashamed to have their Facebook image “pop” up on some strangers screen who happens to be having a cocktail a few blocks away.


Tinder is just one example of how mobile culture is drastically changing the most intimate aspect of our lives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.