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MC Lyte Lyrics Spark Debate About Double Standards, Gender, And Sexualization In Hip-Hop

Her 1991 song lyrics about being attracted to teenage boys have sparked a controversial debate about double standards in hip-hop.

MC Lyte’s 1991 song lyrics about being attracted to 17-year-old boys have sparked a controversial debate about the double standards existing in the hip-hop industry.

On “The Culture Report,” host Ray Daniels questioned why there wasn’t more backlash to Lyte rapping, “I’m into little boys that are about seventeen,” Hip Hop Dx reported. The debates around gender and sexual assault in the hip-hop community brought to light that some people view Lyte’s lyrics as normalizing the sexualization of underage boys. Some say there’s a troubling double standard where female predators are often not taken as seriously.

He compared it to the sexual assault charges that came about against men in the industry like Russell Simmons, saying, “I want the same anger and the same vigor” for Lyte’s 1991 lyrics.

Some people defended Lyte, noting that she was a teenager herself when she originally rapped the lyrics. People also pointed out that it was a different time. But others argued that there’s a double standard when it comes to protecting girls more than boys from sexual assault. One commenter wrote, “Culturally, we don’t protect our sons … Protecting them makes them ‘soft’ … We’ve been conditioned to believe that [sexual abuse from a woman] makes them tough, and that makes them a man.”

Despite the controversy, Lyte has continued advocating for women in the hip-hop industry. She said the genre wouldn’t be the same without female influences, according to the site. “Everybody has their own relationship with hip-hop – it’s almost like a person. We do know that it has inspired all of us in one way or another.” Lyte said there’s now “room and space” for women in the industry. “It feels like the importance of where and when you entered hip hop doesn’t matter. We all contributed. Period.”

The debate has uncovered a reality that re-examining hip hop’s past can raise sensitive issues around gender, power, and accountability.

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