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Let’s be clear: misogyny in music isn’t new. But 2013 has introduced a new kind of misogyny, a deliberate and task-oriented degradation and objectification of women that’s far more disturbing than the casual, inherent misogyny of generations past. In the last few months alone, men have released songs about raping women (Rick Ross' "U.O.E.N.O"), knowing women “want it” (Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines") and sticking dicks in our mouths to shut us up (Kanye West's "On Sight").

This isn’t satire, post-post irony or freedom of speech. This is war. 

Ross thought it was totally fine to rap about drugging and raping a woman: "Put molly all in her champagne/ She ain't even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that/ She ain't even know it."

The outcry and backlash about the verse Ross contributed to Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O” was deafening, and rightly so, but a few weeks later when Robin Thicke released the music video for “Blurred Lines,” all anyone seemed focused on was the full frontal nudity, the goat and its kickin’ beat. It’s a catchy song, but that video, which has been described as rape-y by a number of women recently (including me), is a disturbing wonderland of male privilege, with Thicke whispering in a naked woman’s ear, “I know you want it,” over and over and over again. The censored version is actually more disturbing, wherein the women aren’t naked but wrapped tightly in clear plastic wrap like the disposable dolls Thicke thinks they are.

The obvious difference between Ross and Thicke is that while “U.O.E.N.O” outright condones rape, “Blurred Lines” takes its winking, self-satisfied title and runs that euphemism into the ground. Ross apologized, albeit only after he lost a lucrative sponsorship deal, but Thicke took a different approach, telling GQ:

“We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, ‘We're the perfect guys to make fun of this.’ People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I'm like, ‘Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I've never gotten to do that before. I've always respected women.’”

All the problems in the world exist in these few lines. The idea that it’s a “pleasure” to degrade women after a lifetime of respecting them is ridiculous. That it’s somehow funny or something he’s allowed to do because he’s happily married with children is the thinking of someone completely deluded, who has lived his entire life in a bubble of entitlement.

Which brings us to Yeezus. At this point in time, there are few rappers more entitled than Kanye West. Even as his new record has been decried for its misogyny, it’s also been heralded by male and female critics alike as brilliant, moving and bold. Most of the fawning reviews focused on Yeezus’s potential sacrilege and scathing indictments of racism; few called out his abhorrent attitudes toward women.

“Took her to the 'Bleau, she tried to sip the fountain/ That when David Grutman kicked her out/ But I got her back in and put my dick in her mouth.”

That’s a lyric from Yeezus’s first track, “On Sight,” which seems to make direct reference to West’s girlfriend and mother of his newborn child, Kim Kardashian, and her close relationship with Grutman, who’s one of the head people at Miami’s Fontainebleau hotel. That would mean he wrote this lyric about the woman he supposedly loves. West was raised by a single mother, whom he adored. He was raised by a feminist, even if his mother never named it that or identified as that. She was a strong woman who raised an artist who is both genuinely inspired and totally, boringly, willfully sexist.

That’s the worst part of what’s become glaringly obvious the last few months: these are not old men caught up in old ways of thinking; these are younger men who were, more often than not, raised within feminism and to respect women, but who still feel it's their right to degrade and debase them. It’s as if a deeply subconscious panic has set in amongst certain male musicians — and some women, for that matter — that patriarchy is in its last gasps and the only way to stave off equality is to remind women they are merely a collection of body parts, flesh and orifices.

In doing it under the guise of music, there’s a built-in excuse that this is about creative expression. But, calling out misogyny doesn’t take away one’s right to creative expression; rather, critical thinking and discussion is the expected and necessary counterpart to that kind of freedom.

When I say this kind of deliberate, chosen misogyny means war, there’s not a clear-cut gender divide or a battle of the sexes to be waged. There are many men fed up with misogyny in music and have stated so publicly, including rapper Talib Kweli and singer-songwriter Ben Gibbard. There are some amazing and wonderful musicians, like Lupe Fiasco and Joel Plaskett, who are outspoken against sexism and who abhor violence against women.

But “Blurred Lines” sits atop the charts and Yeezus is one of the best-reviewed albums of the year. I sort of understand why. Sonically, they’re strong pieces of music and there are a lot of fans — male, female and otherwise — who genuinely hear nothing wrong with these lyrics, who think these words are funny or sexy or street. But there’s only so long I can keep on separating the music from the words, the song from the intention, appreciating the art and sacrificing my self-worth.   

Most women have to learn self-esteem; we’re not born with an ingrained entitlement about our place or space in the world. We fight for it all the time. Ross, Thicke and West are men who should know better, who admit to knowing better, but they choose to see women as less than. What a choice. 

Follow Andrea Warner on Twitter: @_AndreaWarner.

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Misogyny makes a comeback: Kanye, Robin Thicke and degrading women

Let’s be clear: misogyny in music isn’t new. But 2013 has introduced a new kind of misogyny, a delibe…

Comments

Lauren Burrows
#1 posted by
Lauren Burrows
on Jun 24, 2013

Rick Ross and Kanye West are obviously atrocious. What bugs me about the Robin Thicke track is that it's so innocuous. I called it terrible (and awesome, cause Pharrell's beat is amazing) and sort of got called out by some DJ friends. Lots of people don't see anything wrong with it.  

TheIceman
#2 posted by
TheIceman
on Jun 24, 2013

TheWeeknd puts out some atrociously misogynistic lyrics, and yet he is wildly feted.

camperchristo
#3 posted by
camperchristo
on Jun 24, 2013

I don't think these people hate Women. Their use of misogynistic lyrics is a means to a financial end.  This is a sad reflection of what sells, and it does sell. And the controversy created by it further enhances the marketing and interest in the material. As stated in the opening sentence of the article, this is nothing new.  Lest we forget the Eminem era, where he describes different ways to murder his wife, or Master p explaining how to manufacture and sell crack cocaine. We as a society spend hundreds of millions of dollars watching Iron Man, Bat Man and Man of Steel save us all from evil.  We have made our bed, and now we have to sleep with the apathetic, misogynist alpha male hero we created.

plymouthshallowgrave
#4 posted by
plymouthshallowgrave
on Jun 24, 2013

I don't think anyone could argue that the Kanye album is particularly friendly toward women, and that it's fairly frustrating that Kanye is seemingly looking for credit for the social commentary in his music whilst peppering his songs with casually sexist lines. I do, however, think you've read more into the line than the context of the song suggests--the inferences that the lyric is about Kim K, and that the reference to oral sex is about "shut(ting) us up" are logical leaps. It doesn't excuse that line or the numerous other sexist lines on the album, but a criticism of what he wrote rather than what you speculate that he meant is more powerful, in my opinion. 

Lexxis Nexxis
#5 posted by
Lexxis Nexxis
on Jun 25, 2013

I do actually think that for these so-called musicians all women are 'biatches'. But that's US gangbanger music.. that's what it always was about. Look at other genres. Nowhere else to find. A sad way to sell and make money.

boders
#6 posted by
boders
on Jun 25, 2013

Great article. Thanks.from #3: "I don't think these people hate Women. Their use of misogynistic lyrics is a means to a financial end." I can agree with the latter part but I don't think that follows from the former. Creating and expanding cultural space where violence against women is an entertaining notion seems like misogyny to me. Doing for profit makes it that much more insidious...

JCadorette
#7 posted by
JCadorette
on Jun 25, 2013

I have an 8 year old boy who loves pop music and there are so many songs that I have to turn the dial on because they are so overtly sexual and degrading to women. I've explained to him what is degradation and we talk about that - but the white elephant in the room is WHY some men would act in a way and create music about degrading women. Why? How on earth do I explain that to him? It breaks my heart. And that's just listening to music on the radio - you can imagine the fun we have watching his beloved video count down show on Music Plus. Thank goodness we watch it taped and can skip all the nudity, the scores of big breasted bimbos sucking their fingers and guys grabbing their crotches.

DrinkerOfDecaf
#8 posted by
DrinkerOfDecaf
on Jun 25, 2013

Things like this make me ashamed to be male. :(

Andrea Warner
#9 posted by
Andrea Warner
on Jun 25, 2013

I really appreciate all of your feedback and thoughts. Thanks for reading and talking.

awesomeblueberry
#10 posted by
awesomeblueberry
on Jun 26, 2013

i guess it's all going bad for him NOW that the Kardashian wants to exclude him from getting involved with his daughter. he also was 'caught' cheating on her which went public as a surprising news; as if he never did that before. makes you wonder you know..

DRUMCHAN
#11 posted by
DRUMCHAN
on Jun 28, 2013

Why give this so much attention?  If it's the debate then post it somewhere else that's not stealing space from the tons of great music and many hard working bands that could be benefiting.

Jim King
#12 posted by
Jim King
on Jun 28, 2013

Good.  We need to see more of this.  We need to take back the ground we've lost.

rubymadre
#13 posted by
rubymadre
on Jun 28, 2013

Thanks for writing this good piece.

Damn. my mom was a fighter for woman's rights, and now she still wages the fight for the sake of her grand daughter. What a waste of talent for these privileged men to have such nasty mouths, and sour attitudes. Too bad they don't seem able to rise above ignorance and anger. They sure aren't adding to the goodness in the world. oh well, lets say a prayer for for them to grow & learn, and be done with them.

RFawkes
#14 posted by
RFawkes
on Jun 28, 2013

Very well written. As a father of three young daughters... I hope they do grow up with a sense of entitlement (that may sound wrong... but I honestly hope they do), a strong sense of self and the confidence to know that a man (or the crap they hear on their ipods or see on YouTube) doesn't define them and should not affect their identity. At the very least, should they encounter something that does demean them in some sense, I hope they take a stand, like Ms. Warner.

I bet your parents are very proud.

Llewen
#15 posted by
Llewen
on Jun 28, 2013

I'm trying to fathom why anyone is surprised.  This kind of violent, pornographic objectification of women, and glorification of the abuse and sexualization of women (and the lgbt community as well for that matter) is the logical conclusion of what has been happening in "hard core" rap music for years.  And it's the same thing that Rob Reiner made fun of in "This is Spinal Tap".  Hard core rap became the new 80's style heavy metal at the turn of the millenium.

Don't get me wrong, there is still hard hitting, intelligent hip hop out there, but an awful lot of it has become over the top, corporate, self indulgent excrement that I guarantee you will become the punch line for a lot of bad jokes in the not too distant future.  Which is exactly what happened to the heavy metal of the 80's.

But just as is the case with heavy metal, the poetic heart of hip hop will keep beating.  It won't be main stream anymore.  It won't be used to sell "bling" anymore but there will be a hip hop core that will continue, and will continue to remind us of what was best about it's culture, in spite of the horrible damage done to it by the current crop of corporate rap thugs.

Does anyone recall one of the final scenes in Animal Farm where the animals looked around while they were all seated at the table, and at least one of them understood that the animals looked just like the masters they had revolted against?  That is what has happened to rap music.

Gianni Bugno
#16 posted by
Gianni Bugno
on Jun 29, 2013

I always thought Elvis's gyrating hips to be very misogynist.  I'm glad we're finally taking on this issue now.

 

september
#17 posted by
september
on Jun 29, 2013

It's perfectly obvious that Thicke has never respected women, he just always pretended to.  And how he's happy very because he feels that he doesn't have to pretend to respect women any more. I seriously hope this man does not have daughters.  What a horrible father man to have as a father.  Even if he doesn't, I really resent him for helping to make the world that MY little girl is growing up in into an even more violent and dangerous place.  Perhaps one day he will come to regret his words here, but I hope that no one close to him has to suffer in order for him to understand the harm he is sowing. 

KaKaDoDo
#18 posted by
KaKaDoDo
on Jun 30, 2013

Unfortunately, some women degrade themselves.  Women have rights in society and if they support these artists, it means they accept their messages.

joenopride
#19 posted by
joenopride
on Jun 30, 2013

If you look at Kanye's work as his understanding that he is hurting himself and others with his action the misogynistic lines take on a a new meaning. I've seen a few people present a reading of Yeezus as such. That being said, it's totally possible Kanye is a savant and had no idea he was presenting this.

redmix
#20 posted by
redmix
on Jul 01, 2013

Here's the thing, young modern women need to own some of the new misogyny too. I have seen many young women who have, through some twisted logic sold by truly misogynistic means, bought into the belief that taking full control of their own sexuality is to treat it like a commodity for sale to men. Many young women now, apparently, think that by taking part in these videos, reality shows, girls gone wild, and even in songs sung by women that selling her body is "her" choice. That she empowers herself by "choosing" to dress and behave in a manner that was once dictated by men in private but now openly in full view. Because when women do this in public its okay? Some will say that a woman dressed provocatively by choice is no excuse for men's bad behaviour in response.

Take two women one chooses through religious piety to wear a birka, another through secular feminism chooses to wear the least amount of fabric the law will allow in public. They pass each other and both think poor girl she's so oppressed and objectified by men. Two extremes but, guess what they're both right.

Feminism is the right of every woman to be as sexual she chooses, even to place that sexuality up for sale and objectification, because that choice is her right in a fully equal world. Real feminism is to understand just because you have a right it does not automatically mean you have to exercise it the point it where it ceases to be empowering and becomes surrender instead.

BeanaSward
#21 posted by
BeanaSward
on Jul 03, 2013

@Andrea Warner Thanks for speaking up about this. It's brave to do this on the internet these days. Mention misogyny and you get a swarm of dudebros telling you how it really is or why it's really women's fault (KaKaDoDo & redmix). Or you get flks like DRUMCHAN who take time out of their day to tell you your article is a waste of space. I ask you, DRUMCHAN, why comment? Why read it at all? Just move on, bro. 

Brava Andrea! Keep calling them out!

samsonbrown
#22 posted by
samsonbrown
on Jul 07, 2013

A comeback? Thicke may have dragged it far beyond the walls of hip hop and r&b, but misogyny in those genres has never gone away. If anything, Kanye and Rick Ross only stand out as (not so) extreme recent examples because rap and r&b fans have become largely desensitized to its prevalence in those two styles of music.

Gormley8
#23 posted by
Gormley8
on Jul 25, 2013

I read the article, and I'm inclined to comment which means I have some interest in the subject.  But I have to say I'm more in agreeance with redmix because as much as some women complain about men's actions women are not always in the right either.  Living in a big city I see it everyday.  Women dressing for attention, giving off attitude like if you stop to talk to them you're doing something wrong, giving out their phone numbers and then not responding, showing up to bars without wallets and only owning up when they want something.  It comes down to entitlement ...sorry RFawkes, but it seems that women think they are entitled to more than they deserve.  I'm all about being as much as a gentleman as I can, and so are my friends but it feels like sometimes it doesn't make a difference.  We all know that women flock to where the money is and are in constant competition with getting the most ...but they'll never say it!  As for men, sure, some can be crude and some can be idiots but seriously, do you think our DNA of wanting sexy women is ever going to change.......?

But oh yes, the subject on hand ...music!  I think making a big deal about this is pretty much nonsense.  Its music.  Its a song.  Its a form of art.  If someone (Kanye and Thicke) feels like being creative and wants to try to make money from it then let them.  They are totally free to do so.  And if you don't like it, then don't listen to it.  If that doesn't make sense, then here's another example:  I was in a bar last week in a VERY affluent part of Toronto.  Blurred Lines came on and EVERY girl got up on a chair and started dancing to it.  As much as they "hate" the pretty models in the video, deep down inside they also want to be them. 

That just showed me that the majority of people out there don't really care about what a song is saying. 

 

 

 

     

Shah57
#24 posted by
Shah57
on Jul 26, 2013

What is wrong with whispering in a naked women's ear "I know you want it'? Are u suggesting a naked women does not "want sex"?  The problem with Anglo - American culture is that it values Sex and sexuality only if it can sell it to make money or increase ratings!!!! I suggest the author of this blog to travel to Eastern Europe, Middle East and Continental Europe to learn how to have fun with sex and sexuality! Also why is that when Lady Gaga sings about "bad Romance" and makes a crazy video she is praised as an artist but when Thicke makes a sexy video with naked women who "want it" his actions are analyzed, his video called Rape-y and he is accused of seeing women as "collections of boobs"! Lastly breasts are great and when I an a man see a woman I look for things that erect my curiosity!  Males from my generation love women who are not afraid to admit they are sexual (women that know they want it), are smart and capable of taking control!

pgryc3
#25 posted by
pgryc3
on Jul 26, 2013

This article is absolutely fantastic and I admire the stand it takes! I also can't help but acknowledge the brilliant caption on the photo attached. The public needs to start holding artists and celebrities accountable for degrading material they distribute. A good beat and a catchy tune should not distort and excuse the derogatory message being sent. We need more articles like this one!!

eniveld
#26 posted by
eniveld
on Jan 01, 2014

How sad to read man-hating articles like this (or mysandry, if you want to use a big word for it).  To quote the a phrase from the opening paragraph of this article:

"In the last few months alone, men have released songs about raping women (Rick Ross' "U.O.E.N.O")"

 

Have you even listened to this song or read the lyrics?  This song is most definitely NOT about raping women.  There is one line in the whole song about dropping molly in champagne but you're taking the whole thing out of context.

Way to miss what's going on in music!

Sean Barrette
#27 posted by
Sean Barrette
on Jan 17, 2014

One line out of context, eniveld? Bullshit. I took your advice and read the lyrics. I wish I hadn't - it makes me grieve class, good taste, and simple human decency. So, now I know that the rest of the lyrics are all about bitches, guns, shooting people, and how much more money they have than anyone else - in other words, still all substitutes for their dicks. All mixed in with the dumbest hook imaginable. (And paid for by idiots who think it would be cool to be just like that, I guess.) Even if it's only in fantasy land, it isn't misandry to say so - it's the simple truth...and you don't even know it. (barf)   

cnshalom
#28 posted by
cnshalom
on Jan 17, 2014

"He was raised by a feminist, even if his mother never named it that or identified as that."An important part of feminism (in my view) is supporting the right to self-determination of identity. If she didn't identify as a feminist, she wasn't one. Sentences like the above are dangerous because they suggest a right to supplant a person's self-described identity. :)

Dropping the ball
#29 posted by
Dropping the ball
on Jan 27, 2014

I get the point of the article but I do have a problem when quotes are taken from article without showing the context in which it was given. When that quote started circulating across the web I was surprised that Thicke would say such a thing. I decided that I would wait until the article came out before passing judgment (you know the old adage: don't believe everything you read). I felt a little better after reading the article and finding out it was a joke on set but not that much better. I didn't find the joke funny at all. Then I began to read other interviews, some from the video director- Diane Martel, and started to get a better understanding how that (Joke) can about. A video that was suppose to be corny and pretending to be old men catcalling women turned into a different beast when Diane started throwing in all these different props yelling do something with that. Women always say men don't listen. This guy listened to his spouse, female director, and female friends when it came to the making and release of the topless video and he has taken all the upheaval.

Now I have said all that to get to what I believe is a persistent theme when it comes to the females sex. We come together to voice our outrage when we fill women are being degraded, misused, or abused but where are we before it gets to this. I hear a lot of people saying it's 2014 and things have changed, meaning for the better. Yes, some things have changed but not entirely for women. Many mothers are still intimating to their daughter's that to be seen as a complete woman you must marry and have children. They are not stressing have a career. There is a disconnect there. I remember being in high school and being forced to take a home economics class because all girls must learn to cook, clean, sew, etc... so ,that you can run the house once you're married. Such teachings only lead to dependence on a man. 

 Feminist fought hard to get women rights and how have we used those rights. Yes we do continue to protest when it comes to women's right when it comes to our body's but what about the right won for education. To combat the degradation of women, I believe we should have school  classes starting in the 5th to high school that teach young girls their rights, independence, empowerment, choice, that they as a person have value,  etc.. There should be more programs for young women geared toward higher education and entry into the work world. Strong women are a power to be reckoned with, which I believe in turn will limit or eradicate degradation.     

hannahkhan
#30 posted by
hannahkhan
on Mar 05, 2014

Agreed. I wrote something about this recently http://wp.me/p3S9bY-6Q  

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