Why isn’t Kanye West a gay icon? [MTVNews]
What porn and wrestling have in common: a lack of unions. [In These Times]
Image via Netflix.
On the heels of Brie Larson’s Best Actress Oscar nod for Room, I wrote about her character’s attachment mothering. [Bitch Flicks]
I wrote about whether the Legends Football League has a place in the revolution of women’s sports.
I’m also at Feminartsy writing about Barbie’s new body and body image.
Cults, women and pop culture. [Bitch]
Why don’t men show up to hear women speak? [Daily Life]
For more feminist rants from Australia and New Zealand, check out the latest Down Under Feminists Carnival. [Opinions @ BlueBec]
In my first piece for The Vocal, I explain why the Kardashians are better than you.
The Grammys hates black women. [Kevin Allred]
Is Deadpool pansexual? [Fusion]
Shonda Rhimes’ shows are depicting abortion in groundbreaking ways. [RH Reality Check]
And enough with all the feminist in-fighting: we should be asking men to speak up about Kesha. [Junkee]
And now for the Hillary Clinton portion of the program…
ICYMI: In the wake of Gloria Steinem’s comments about young women not voting for Hillary Clinton because we’re more interested in who boys are voting for than radical activism, I just had to write in defence of millennials.
Don’t let anyone own you: how to start a Fuck Off Fund. [The Billfold]
The militant ranchers who’ve occupied a national wildlife building are destroying the very land they’re looking to take back from the government—which isn’t theirs to give in the first place. [Feministe]
My dark, twisted fantasy: playing house. [The Cut]
The slow progress of Disney princess films. [Daily Life]
The Oxford dictionary is sexist. [Medium]
Kanye West’s obsession with Amber Rose. [Jezebel]
This article was originally published on TheVine on 5th September, 2012.
Earlier in the year a rumour was circulating around the interwebs that Jay Z had shunned the age-old method of addressing women in rap and hip hop—“bitch”—after the birth of his baby with Beyonce, Blue Ivy, had made him realise the error of his ways. Alas, the poem in which Hova allegedly “curse[s] those that give it [bitch]”, turned out to be a fake, but it did raise some pertinent issues about calling women “bitches” in the rap game.
More recently, Jay Z’s bestie Kanye West revealed he wrote his song “Perfect Bitch” about Kim Kardashian, who took it as a compliment, showing how one person’s misogynistic insult is another’s compliment.
Rapper Lupe Fiasco’s latest track and accompanying video ask is “Bitch Bad”, using children to show the different ways we internalise the term. Again, one person’s put down is another’s feminist manifesto, like Bitch magazine, Missy Elliot’s “She’s a Bitch” and “Queen Bitch” by Lil’ Kim.
Perhaps in response to Fiasco’s request to start a dialogue on the “destructive” and “troubling elements” of bitch, Kanye has taken to Twitter to add to the discourse. He asks, perhaps in relation to “Perfect Bitch”, “is it acceptable for a man to call a woman a bitch even if it’s endearing?” To those who tend to towards “yes”, he asks, “would we refer to our mothers as bitches?”
A similar question comes to mind as the one brought up when the Blue Ivy poem, “Glory”, was released: why did Jay Z only shun the word after the birth of his daughter, as opposed to when he wed one of the most desirable women in the world, Beyonce? Is she not good enough to warrant not being called a “bitch”? I guess in this case, baby trumps baby mama.
But supposing that because women are addressed as “bitches”, “tricks” and “hos” in rap music they must automatically be viewed as such (and, really, what is a bitch or a ho? Someone who speaks their mind? Someone who gets some action between the sheets? If so, sign me up!) IRL is to subscribe to the outdated “hypodermic needle” theory of media studies. Certainly, though, popular culture does infiltrate other aspects of daily life so it’s important that Fiasco and West are contributing to the unpacking of this word that’s so inherent in rap and hip hop.
This is hardly a new phenomenon, though. 2Pac “Wonder[ed] Why They Call[ed] U Bitch” on his 1994 album, All Eyez on Me, concluding that having unprotected sex, getting paid for it, looking and moving a certain way and abusing the welfare system are all reasons why someone might “call you bitch”.
Eighteen years on, “bitch” is still “so prevalent in our culture right now,” says Fiasco. Because, as mentioned above, “bitch” is most certainly a derogatory term for many in the hip hop industry, as evidenced in “Bitches Ain’t Shit” by Dr. Dre and Too $hort’s pertinently titled “Call Her a Bitch”, but also in wider society to address a woman who doesn’t conform to femininity norms: mouth shut, “legs closed, eyes open,” from 2Pac’s abovementioned battle cry.
But, alternatively, as Busta Rhymes’ “I Love My Bitch”, Ja Rule’s “Down Ass Bitch” and Kim’s reaction to “Perfect Bitch” will attest, it’s also a term of endearment.
In a rare moment of clarity, Kanye Tweets, “Perhaps the word BITCH and N*GGA are now neither positive or negative. They are just potent and it depends on how they are used and by whom.”
Indeed. So while friends and lovers might use the word in passing affection, those who want to stifle independent women or ones who’ve scorned them, it’s still very much a problematic term.
“… [The Kardashians] also exhibit an attitude toward their bodies that can only be called revolutionary. Women have long asked for fair vagina representation in media, for their vaginas not only to be sexual objects but to smell and bleed and pop out babies, and on their show, Kardashian vaginas do all that and more, which is very different than other pop-culture vaginas.”
Speaking of Kim, is she becoming more political? [Fusion]
How SlutWalk Melbourne has evolved in the past four years. [Spook Magazine]
HIV on HTGAWM. [This Ain’t Livin’]
“I Feel Bad About My Nose.” [Broadly]
“When asked if racism existed outside of Compton by SPIN magazine in 1990, Eazy-E replied, ‘The black police in Compton are worse than the white police. Chuck D gets involved in all that black stuff, we don’t. Fuck that black power shit; we don’t give a fuck. Free South Africa; we don’t give a fuck…We’re not into politics at all.’” [Talking Points Memo]
In praise of gender-neutral public bathrooms. [Daily Life]
Women can be pedophiles, too. [Broadly]
Why we find the sexualised violence of #BBHMM so disturbing. [HuffPo Women]
The Supreme Court of the United States’ landmark decision to legalise marriage equality nation wide is great, but the freedom to marry should also mean the freedom not to marry. [The Cut]
Has Kim changed… or just the way we think about her? [Daily Life]
“My hope is that going forward we can have a Pennsatucky Test for rape scenes much like the Bechdel Test. Is the victim’s point-of-view shown? Does the scene have a purpose for existing for character, rather than plot, advancement? Is the emotional aftermath explored? As long as sexual assault continues to be a scourge of our society, TV shows ought to mine the subject; it’s important we keep the conversation going. Just take care of your characters. Don’t rape ’em and leave ’em. They deserve to have their trauma acknowledged. They deserve to have their stories told.” [Vulture]
Grief in the time of social media. [Kill Your Darlings]
To celebrate U.S. series UnREAL‘s renewal and debut on Australian screens on Stan, read about how the show flips the reality TV script and how it’s pushing the boundaries of female masturbation. [Vulture, TV Tonight, The New Yorker, HuffPo Women]
Mums with guns. [Jezebel]
Magic Mike XXL was released this week and I wrote about the original here. [TheVine]
The latest Down Under Feminists Carnival has much more Aussie and Kiwi feminist goodness to keep you satisfied. [A Bee of a Certain Age]
Word length and the amount of syllables therein were factors in pushing a song over the edge from unintelligence to intelligence. From the study:
“Country music is full of words like Hallelujah, cigarettes, hillbilly, and tacklebox. Add to that long place names like Cincinnati, Louisville, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and [c]ountry has a serious advantage over the competition.”
Country music coming out on top as the most intelligent genre is laughable; this is the inherently sexist genre that brought you such gems as “Thank God I’m a Country Girl” and Taylor Swift before she found feminism. Just because country originated in parts of America with really long names don’t mean jack. (I tried my hand at some country-esque parlance there.)
Though you wouldn’t think it from the flashy and oftentimes nonsensical rap styles of Pit Bull and Snoop Dogg phoning it in on tracks like Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”, rap and hip hop were spawned in some of the poorest and most downtrodden parts of major cities where their primarily black and Hispanic residents were oppressed and discriminated against and where drugs and crime were rampant. In his younger days, Tupac Shakur rapped about police brutality (“Trapped”, “Changes”), slut shaming, sexual assault and STDs (“Brenda’s Got a Baby”, “Keep Ya Head Up”, “Baby Don’t Cry”), and drugs (“Changes”), while N.W.A. produced songs with similar content.
As is evident in the popular music that the study chose to… erm… study, the rap that makes it to the top 40 charts isn’t necessarily an accurate depiction of the genre as a whole. Take, for example, Kendrick Lamar. I’m not super familiar with his work but I do know that the most commercial success he’s seen came with his recent cameo in Taylor Swift’s (of country music origins) video for “Bad Blood”. And while we all have an opinion on Kanye West, he raps intelligently—although this study would seek to disprove that—about fame, money, racism. (His inclusion on Katy Perry’s “E.T”, making it one of the past decade’s smartest songs, while Perry’s “Wide Awake” with no obligatory rap interlude makes it the 10th dumbest song of the decade should be indicative of rap’s—or at least Kanye’s—value.) This is not to mention the copious amounts of underground and unreleased rap out there.
When it comes to women, Mariah Carey (“We Belong Together” is finally getting its due as one of Mariah’s more artful arrangements) and Nicki Minaj (again, her unreleased stuff is far more sophisticated than “Anaconda” and “Starships”) are topping the intelligence scales while Beyonce makes an appearance in both intelligent and unintelligent lists. That the biggest and best artist in the world today could be described using the word “unintelligent” is a crime. It just goes to show that word length alone doesn’t demonstrate the myriad aspects that go into creating music.
It’s also interesting that many of the artists who rank high in intelligence are appropriating the music of other cultures, ie. Eminem and Macklemore. (My mother recently said she thought Eminem was the best rapper, despite the high rotation of rappers of colour on my and my sister’s CD players in our youth.) On a related note, Iggy Azalea is nowhere to be found in this study.
Sure, songs like “California Gurls” and “Tik Tok” may indicate our lowering intelligence as a culture (though, having said that, these are two of my favourite songs to get down on the dancefloor to, so do with that what you will), but artists like Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Taylor Swift (despite what the study says!) who are changing the game would suggest otherwise.
What do you think? Do you agree with the study’s assertions or would you counter them like I have?
The title of this piece comes from my friend April, who once summed up my life as blogging, jogging and True Blood(ing).
Four years later and True Blood is off the air, I’m focusing more on freelancing than the vitality of this blog and I’ve given up jogging the streets of Melbourne for the elliptical machine inside the four walls of a gym. My life can probably better be summed up by the three W’s, as my mum recently coined it: work, writing and wrestling. It still ticks many of the same boxes that April’s analogy did, but it shows how much I’ve changed and where my priorities now lie.
I’ve come to the realisation that many of the things that I thought defined me for the past five, ten and even fifteen years I no longer identify with.
For example, last month I had a story published on TheVine about my disillusionment with past heroes, specifically Mia Freedman, who had been my life role model for a good ten years.
Also in recent months, I’ve started to warm to artists such as Taylor Swift and Kanye West who I thought were overrated and obnoxious in the past. (More to come on this.)
And a few weeks ago I was listening to Triple H, who’s long held a place in my heart as my favourite wrestler, on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast and his ignorant words about gendered double standards in World Wrestling Entertainment blew me away. (More to come on this as well).
These pop cultural points may seem frivolous, but they inform larger changes. Where once I would defend Freedman to the death and damage friendships over my hatred of Swift (more to come on this), I just don’t think those convictions are worth it anymore. Furthermore, as a single woman who’s only accountable to herself, I always prided myself on being someone who wouldn’t do things she didn’t want to do, but now I find myself sticking out predicaments that aren’t necessarily making me happy as a means to a much more satisfying end, but I just wish that end would come sooner. (Again, more to come on this.)
Of course this is all just a part of growing and changing as a person but it is giving me anxiety akin to a post-quarter life crisis that makes me want to pull a blankie over my head and tune out the world. (I’ve already had a pre-quarter life one so I can recognise the all too familiar feels.) I know I’m not making perfect sense here, but hashing these issues out on the page helps remind me why I consume and produce.
Tavi Gevinson talks about the “pop culture tools” that aid her in crises like mine but what happens when everything you had in your toolbox don’t quite fix things like they used to? I don’t necessarily have the answers yet. I’m taking comfort in reading short stories, personal essays and memoirs, for example; an inkling that wasn’t there before.
I think the main take away from this identity crisis is that I really want to consume things I can relate to or that can enhance my view of the world. It just so happens that those things and that view has skewed so that what I once held dear no longer cuts it.