Life + Arts

Film probes sex topics

The Women’s Resource Center invited anti-sexist activist Byron Hurt to screen his movie Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes in honor of April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month on Thursday.

After the screening, the award winning documentary filmmaker led a discussion in which audience members were able to ask questions or provide comments.

Hurt began by discussing how he came up with the concept of the movie.

‘The first movie I made was I Am a Man, and I tried to get the movie on to PBS, but it was rejected,’ Hurt said. ‘After that experience, I got a regular job and focused on how to make a better film.’

Hurt was part of the Mentors of Violence Prevention Program when he learned about race and gender issues. He decided to challenge his own views and changed his relationship with rap music and hip-hop culture.

Hurt wanted to make a film addressing topics such as masculinity, misogyny and homophobia.

‘Either I was going to be a filmmaker or I wasn’t going to be a filmmaker,’ Hurt said.

Six years later, Hurt had completed Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes.

Hurt said while hyper masculinity is easy to see in rap music, it happens outside of the hip-hop culture as well. Rap music is only one place where masculinity is learned and taught. Hurt also asked how manhood is portrayed around the world.

Hurt also addressed the issue of male privilege. Male privilege refers to how men don’t have to question their maleness and the advantages they have simply because they are male.

‘Just like there is white privilege, heterosexual privilege and all other different kinds of privileges, there is also male privilege,’ Hurt said. ‘It will take time (to learn and do something about the issues) – no one will give up their privilege easily.’

Hurt also talked about homophobia and used a current event as an example. When an 11-year-old boy hangs himself because his classmates chastised him about being gay, Hurt said, it is proof that masculinity and homophobic issues are everywhere.

Hurt has shown his film to many people around the nation, from elementary children to students in college.

‘I use personal stories as much as possible. I am not just talking about the issues, but I have been through these things,’ Hurt said. ‘I believe one of my skills is being able to connect with people.’

Hurt said it is never too late to take time to understand and do something about the issues he talks about in his documentary.

‘Some people may take longer to understand the issues than others. It’s about learning and understanding that you don’t have to put on an act to be accepted,’ Hurt said.

Hurt’s film is used as an education resource around the country. More information about Hurt and his movie can be found online at or

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