Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Not So Sexy

Sexism, patriarchy, misogyny, call it what you want but they are all related though not quite the same.  Austin and I spent the weekend in Pennsylvania to celebrate his sister's wedding.  We had a wonderful time and were not ready to leave.  At one point we're driving to one of the many parties and playing DJ in someone's technologically savvy car looking for some good hip-hop to dance to.  We found a variety of stuff: some pop, some more hardcore rap, some reminiscent of our dirty south favorites and every single one ripe with men shit-talking about bitches and hos and all the nasty things they do to them.  Side note* I don't think it is a coincidence that these songs also include manic rantings about money, cars, drugs and violence.  Somehow they are all correlated with patriarchy.  I know this topic is not new.  Really, it's as old as patriarchy, which as most know, is just about as old as time.  Or since men were able to whip it out from under their loin cloth and pee anywhere.  So we ask ourselves two questions.  First, where is the feminist hip hop?  Some suggest such female musicians as Lil Kim, MIA, Eve, Queen Latitfah, etc.  Now I am not any sort of expert on hip hop at all so please excuse my ignorance or at least share any of your insight about these mainstream artists.   But most of the time it seems that female music artists are joining the damn club and talking about the same shit men talk about, sounding just as violent, shallow, and hateful. That is NOT feminism.  Feminists don't want to be like men, especially the men who abuse them.  People have said that there is feminist hip hop, so the question is why doesn't it get promoted or played on the radio?  The next question we ask ourselves then is what do you do about the music available to you?  No doubt some of these artists are talented!  They can mix amazing beats and they can sometimes spit the most creative lyrics and rhymes off the top of their heads.  And they might even have an amazing voice behind all that synth.  Sure there are some great artists that rap about political and social issues but very often it seems these fall more into the spoken word category rather than club tunes.  So what do you do when you want to shake your ass (or pop it) at a club or with friends?  Do you decide that filling your head with garbage is not a price you're willing to pay for this particular activity?  Do you turn it off when you're at parties and stand up to expound on its evil?  Do you only listen to it with people you think are aware of its problematic nature?  Is it even possible to know the far reaching impact of hearing words like this (even for those of us who fancy ourselves aware of the potential)?

On a related note.  We are all sitting around after the day after the wedding, mildly exhausted, full of love for family and friends, and there's a lot of chit chatting going on.  Many of these folks have known each other since the early days of elementary, middle or high school so there's a level of comfort and acceptance that is nice to see.  But it also allows for moments that are somewhat regrettable.  One kid is recounting a story about a past party and a very drunk girl.  I'll spare you the details, but say that the worst part of the story is not the outcome but actually the way the guy is telling it. Everyone is clearly getting uncomfortable and one person even tries to gently say maybe the story should come to an end.  But as usual the type of person who says these things isn't one to pick up on subtlety.  The problem was two-fold, good guy but he's just plain being mean.  (Preamble* I have this memory problem that when moments are emotionally intense my brain is so busy analyzing the situation that I can't remember many details, like exactly what the guy said about this girl)  But I had this distinct feeling of disgust in response to what I perceived as misogynistic, like he had brought this element of sexuality to the story.  What do you do in this situation?!?!?  You're at someone's parents house.  You're around all these people you barely know.  This guy is not speaking for the group.  Someone just got married, it's their special weekend.  Say nothing?

Just to bring it into perspective and get off what may look like a high horse.  Today back at the farm, I'm eating lunch with some of my female friends, asking for an update from the weekend including the event at Full Belly Farms called "Hoes Down."  I ask one of them if they laid any hoes down or something like that.  Funny?  To some.  PC? Nope.  Right speech?  Doubt it.  It's embarrassing that my super feminist friend had to remind me that women are not ho(e)s.

Three different layers.  Many feelings.  You can only imagine the fear I have to be part of a study group about discrimination when at any moment I can say something highly embarrassing.  Goes to show I still have a long way to go.

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