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Brenda's Got a Baby: A Look at Teenage Prostitution

Posted Nov 25 2008

Using Tupac Shakur's "Brenda's Got a Baby" to examine the beliefs, causes, and solutions to female exploitation. I've used this video in a number of ways, in a number of setting, all with good results. This particular version appeared in The Hip Hop Education Guidebook: Volume 1 and portions of this lesson in action can be seen in the documentary Reading Between the Rhymes.

On page two I include some discussion questions I've used at times. Other popular songs that addresses similar topics are Runaway Love by Ludacris and "Girlfriend Sistagirl" by Mystic.

Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation
Examining beliefs, causes, and solutions to female exploitation

Author
Daniel D. Zarazua, Oakland Unity High School

Grades: 9-12
Subjects: Social Studies

Overview of Lesson Plan
Through video analysis, discussion, and a reading, students will examine beliefs, causes, and solutions to female exploitation, particularly as related to teenage prostitution.

Suggested Time Allowance: One hour

*Objectives:
Students will:
1.  Be able to define terms such as prostitution and exploitation
2.  Be able to list some of the main reasons that young girls become prostitutes
3.  Research and become familiar with organizations devoted to solving this problem

Resources/Materials:
-Copy of “Brenda’s Got a Baby” video by Tupac Shakur. Available on several DVDs including Tupac-Resurrection
-Lyrics to ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby,” available online at www.ohhla.com/anonymous/2_pac/2pclypse/brenda.2pc.txt
-DVD or video player and television
-Pens/pencils
-Notebook paper
-Classroom board
-Chalk or dry-erase board
-Copies of article titled “Law-Enforcement Officials Note Marked Nationwide Increase in Teen Prostitution: Trends” from August 18, 2003 edition of Newsweek magazine. Also available online at www.bridges4kids.org/articles/8-03/Newsweek8-18-03

Activities/Procedures:

1.  Warm-Up/Do-Now
Write down the following questions on the board:
1.  Why does prostitution exist?
2.  What are solutions to prostitution?

Have students silently write down their responses on sheets of paper. While the students do this, make two columns on the board, one for each question. After a few minutes, ask students to share their thoughts and write down student responses on the board.

2.  Show the video “Brenda’s Got a Baby.”

3.  Hand out lyrics to “Brenda’s Got a Baby” as a reference sheet and have students silently write down their initial thoughts about the video. While the students do this, make two more columns on the board. After a few minutes, ask students to share their thought about what factors led to Brenda’s choices. Write their responses in the first column. Then, ask students what are some of their suggestions on ways that Brenda could have been helped. Write these responses in the second column.

4.  Discuss with the students and similarities or differences between the lists of dealing with prostitution in general and with Brenda. Often times, student response to nameless and faceless prostitutes leans more towards punitive measures. The recommendation for Brenda often includes a call for more social services and a stronger family unit. The prostitutes are thought of as criminals while Brenda is seen as a victim. As a result, the discussion can revolve around the need to humanize social issues, such as prostitution, to get a more well-rounded view of the causes and solutions.

On the other hand, some groups of students will generate similar lists for both anonymous prostitutes and Brenda, usually following more on the treatment and service side of things than the criminal side. These pattern can lead to a discussion about why society isn’t doing more to combat this issue beyond criminalization.

4. Wrap-Up/Homework

Have students read the articles “Oakland police net 34 in prostitution sting” and “Law-enforcement officials note marked nationwide increase in teen prostitution.” These are available at http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20050604/ai_n15833736
and http://www.bridges4kids.org/articles/8-03/Newsweek8-18-03.html, respectively.
After reading these two articles students should write their thoughts on why young teenage girls are often targeted by pimps. Next students should write why many of these girls get drawn into this type of exploitation.

Further Questions for Discussion

1.  What images in popular media contribute to sexual objectification of women? Bring in a variety of magazines or other media and have students discuss how women are portrayed.

2.  What steps can young people make to combat this issue?

3.  What role do males play versus females? Is it different?

4.  Why has the word “pimp” used as a positive noun or adjective to describe people and situations?

Evaluation/Assessment:
Students will be evaluated based on participation in discussions, and thoughtful written responses.

Vocabulary
Prostitution, exploitation, gender, abuse, advocacy, juvenile, solicitation, molestation, psychological, esteem

Extension Activities
1.  Students should research how sexual exploitation affects girls and teenagers on a global scale, with a particular focus on why they are forced into this trade.

2.  Students should research organizations that deal with stopping sexual exploitation, generating a list of these organizations and the specific type of work that they do.

3.  Have students read chapter titled “The Myth of the Great Black Pimp” from Lyrical Swords by Adisa Banjoko and write a response to his critique of pimps.

4.  Have students view the Destiny’s Child video “Soldier (available on I Tunes)” and read When Will These Sisters Learn?” by Mark Skillz (available online)

5.  Students should watch the video and list how men are portrayed and what type of men that Destiny’s Child prefers. Then, have students read the Mark Skillz’ article and his critique of the

6.  Have students listen to the song “Love is Blind” by Eve and write their thoughts on how she deals with her friend’s abusive husband. (Note that there is both an album version and radio version. The album version has some swear words.)

Comments

1. Adrianne said at January 13, 2009 11:31 am:

As a high school student, I enjoyed this activity because prior to this activity I never viewed music as a direct political vessel. Critically watching this music video gave me an inside perspective of the hardships of being a prostituted and how they end up in this situations. Sometimes people make it seem as though these females choose this life style. “Brenda’s Got a Baby” reveals the truth of the situation in which many either ignore or deny.

2. kassendra gardley said at January 13, 2009 11:43 am:

I think that this video and song really spoke out to people because it had a good and clear message and we knew what tupac was saying. I believe that in this song he's not specifically talking about one person but to all those girls in that sitution and I believe that if one or more of those girls was to hear this song it would speak to their lives.

3. Melissa said at January 13, 2009 12:04 pm:

I'm a high school student as well... and i think that listening to his music video is a better way of understanding the lyrics. This was my first time really hearing this song. i have herd it before but never payed attention to what it said.

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