By Anna Merlan
By Roy Edroso
By Carolyn Hughes
By Chuck Strouse
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Weinstein
By Tessa Stuart
En route to the June 11 Puerto Rican Day Parade, a willowy young woman looked down her nose at an amateur photographer who'd been trying to film her backside as she disembarked from a subway car in Manhattan. Several hours later, the woman, whose name is being withheld, would become a victim of the most vicious mob-style sexual assault since the 1989 Central Park jogger attack. As she recalls the ordeal, she launches into a tirade about homeboys and "hotties" and the ill-fated attempts by "sistafriends" like her to combat the sex crimes of the hip hop generation. These crimeswhich she describes as intimidation, coercion, emotional abuse, groping, sodomy, and consensual sex leading to gang rapeare the scourge of the 'hood and el barrio.
For some, the rampage in Central Park conjures images of bold encounters with so-called "booty bandits," homeboys who ogle, claw at, and jam their fingers into women's genitals. The worst offenders are the "serial buttfuckaz," the "trife-livin' " sexual predators who brush up against females, "rubbin' them with an erection." They have fantasies of these women responding like the " 'hoe" in hardcore rapper Akinyele's 12-inch riff "Put It In Your Mouth": "I'm always sprung once I feel your tongue in the crack of my ass, just eatin' me nigga."
On his best behavior, the booty bandit is a lecherous voyeur casing dancehalls and nightclubs with a video camera in search of "y'all bitches 'n 'hoes" to star in his XXX-rated home movies. The alleged victim of the Central Park sex assaults, who was interviewed by the Voice, bumped into a bandit upon leaving a Manhattan nightclub early one morning.
"Don't get offended!" a young man said as he thrust his camera in her face, then panned down to her chest. The woman said she "politely" blocked the camera and walked away.
"You African bitch!" the bandit shouted. "You ugly, nappy-haired African bitch," he repeated. Words, she says, "just to put you down because you don't want your chest on his video camera."
Ironically, it was photos culled from amateur videotapes that detectives obtained from TV stations and private citizens that led to the arrest of suspects in the Central Park assaults. The videotapes show the horror and the quickness of the attacksgirls and women surrounded by men dousing them with water, then grabbing and pushing them. Victims are seen crying, trying to cover themselves as they walk away.
As embarrassed black and Latino community leaders began investigating the motives behind the assaults, some blamed the influence of hip hop culture for the criminal behavior.
It all started with "the touching," a witness to the sex attacks recalls. And it quickly got out of hand when some frolicking young men began squirting bottles of water at women, trying to see whether they were wearing thong underwear. "These cheeky little bottoms," as one writer describes the thongs, are the rage among young Latinas and black girls. When a thong showed up under a wet miniskirt or stretch pants, "booty lovers" began shouting, "Tha-Thong-tha-thong-thong-thong," that salacious, tongue-twisting hook in Sisqó's MTV hit, "Thong Song." It was then that the booty bandits took over, mauling the women. Some of the marauders chanted "Whoa," the title and chorus of rapper Black Rob's chart-topping single. One of the suspects told The New York Times it was "an innocent water fight that got out of hand."
The alleged assaults come on the heels of a complaint by Philadelphia-based activist C. DeLores Tucker, who reignited the controversy over gangsta rap on May 18. She slammed Time Warner, the world's largest media and entertainment company, at its annual stockholder's meeting for the violent and sexually graphic lyrics of New Orleans-based Master P and the West Coast's Snoop Doggy Dog.
As stockholders filed into the historic Apollo Theatre, where the meeting was held, members of Tucker's National Political Congress of Black Women showered them with leaflets, urging them to block Time Warner's proposed purchase of EMI Music Group, "which distributes gangsta rap/porno music by Master P and others." Amid a firestorm of criticism in 1995, Time Warner sold its 50 percent stake in Interscope, the label that was behind some of the most controversial rappers, including Snoop and the late Tupac Shakur, who was convicted in 1994 in the gang rape of a fan.
"It is our position that some of the music that EMI distributes is vulgar, violent, and vexatious," Tucker says in a statement. "Their music glorifies anti-social behavior. It denigrates, defames, and dehumanizes African-American women, and encourages disrespect for them. . . . Based upon the powerful and seductive messages that get communicated to our children through this music form, however, many young peoplecertainly not allbear true the saying that 'Life imitates art' by the behaviors they exhibit."
Tucker claims that such behavior is reflected in "incidents of domestic violence, [which] have reached alarming proportions" in African American and Latino communities. Consider the whuppin' "thug girl" got from EMI artist Snoop: "She wants to take the ring off my finger so I slapped the bitch up like we was on Jerry Springer." Tucker cites the misogynistic theme in "Hot Boys and Girls," by Master P: "I'm the nigga that fucked all the hoes . . . the first nigga on the block to make yo' Mama Deep Throat."