Recently, one of my friends sent me a link to the blog post, “The Opposite of Sexy,” and he asked me what I thought about it. When I began reading I found myself nodding my head in complete agreement.
The essay, written by frequent Clutch contributor Jamilah Lemieux, took a look at the ways in men (especially rappers) talk about sex. And how a lot of the time, it sounds more like abuse than lovemaking.
“Hip-Hop is, as usual, one of the most guilty spaces. The titillating sexy suggestions of LL Cool J and the naturally seductive voice of Rakim have given way to a bunch of goons that promise to bust your pussy open and beat the stuffing out of it, after they see ‘what that mouth do’. While rough sex is certainly a fan favorite for many folks, there is still much to be desired when so much of our music centers around sex acts that almost sound hateful or abusive.”
As a hip-hop fan I have found myself cringing on many occasions when a rapper discusses his sexual prowess in ways that sound like he’s aiming to do harm to a woman, rather than pleasure her. While I don’t knock people who enjoy rough sex (hey, get your kink on!), I don’t want to feel like a man is trying to beat anything, especially my body, into submission.
I know some will write this type of talk off as just another example of the misogyny within hip-hop and say, “Well, I don’t listen to it, so I’m cool,” but we cannot pretend like what happens on wax isn’t trickling down to real life.
I’ve met plenty of men who have uttered such things—bragging that they could “beat it up” if I wanted—and they weren’t rappers. They were regular men who felt like “beating it up” was a come-on.
I briefly relayed my thoughts to the friend who sent me the link, and while he saw where I was coming from, he also questioned if it was a bit one sided. He wondered, if in my zealousness to amen Lemieux’s assertion, I let women off the hook for being complicit in such a vulgar exchange.
Our conversation reminded of the bit in Chris Rock’s show “Never Scared” in which he commented on his inability to defend rap music even though he still loved to listen. Rock discusses many of the questionable, anti-woman lyrics, and discussed his uneasiness with the songs (and his love for them). He then goes on to comment on women and rap music, adeptly summing up the ways in which many of us give rappers a pass for their questionable lyrics. He says, “Women that like rap, don’t give a fuck. If the beat’s alright, she will dance all night.”
I admit, I’m guilty. Even though I would describe myself as a feminist, I also love some of hip-hop’s most misogynistic songs. I’m often reminded of this whenever I hear Dr. Dre’s classic, “It Ain’t No Fun,” in which Nate Dogg sings of sharing a woman—excuse me, a “bitch”—with his homies.
I ask myself, how can I on one hand demand more from the music and brothas in real life if I’m effectively co-signing this school of thought by listening (and dancing) to the music?
Ladies, when we complain about the misogyny in music and say we want men to do better does this also mean we also have to begin to do better by not supporting artists who constantly talk of “beating it up” and treating our bodies like objects to be discarded after use?
What do you think, are women co-conspirators in the “beat it up” line of thinking that’s so prevalent today? Or should men just stop saying such things?
Let’s talk about it!