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Khan, U. (2017). Fetishizing Music as Rape Culture. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 18(1):19-30.

(2017). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 18(1):19-30

Danger Talk: Sexual Error, Boundary Crossings, and the Limits of Thought Panel

Fetishizing Music as Rape Culture

Ummni Khan, S.J.D.

The concept of “rapey music” has recently emerged as a social problem in feminist and mainstream contexts. Rapey music references songs that critics perceive as artifacts of “rape culture” because they allegedly perpetuate sexual violence, misogyny, and rape myths. This article draws on the concept of “fetishism” to analyze accusations that certain songs are rapey and argues that such songs can be recuperated through a kink lens. In the first part, I review the burgeoning category of songs that have been condemned in feminist media analyses and the weak evidence that connects certain songs to sexual coercion, arguing that the terms “rapey” and “rape culture” operate as negative fetish concepts. I then analyze the disproportionate and more vehement targeting of Black performers, contending that a racialized fetishization underlies this phenomenon. In the last part, I defend music branded as “rape culture” by suggesting that its pleasurable dynamic can be understood through a non-normative kinky fetish framework.

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