I’ve had a lot of thoughts bouncing around on this. let me start by saying that i completely understand the thought process that supports the entire message of this song/video. i do. had this been released five years ago, i would’ve been a staunch supporter because I was pretty much freebasing patriarchy. i understand that the acceptance of this message is a socialized thing that is bigger than the song/video, bigger than Lupe, bigger than hip-hop, and bigger than music in general. It’s symptomatic of a societal problem that’s been in place for centuries.
That being said, here’s my (mostly) full critique, itemized to keep my thoughts straight.
- Immediately, the song establishes a hierarchy among women. The first words Lupe utters in the song are “bitch bad. woman good. lady better.” In this way, it lays out a clear, simple message: LADY > WOMAN > BITCH. What do each of these words mean, though? What classifies someone into any of these categories? WHO classifies them? In this case, Lupe himself is the one who sorts them out. Also, the all-inclusive term “woman” is not good enough. She has to be a LADY. Bitch is immediately dismissed. “Bitch”, in my opinion, is loaded and personal. Every woman has the right to decide their stance on this word, how and if they choose to use it, and how and if they wish to reclaim it. To have Lupe immediately take what might be a part of a woman’s personal identity and trash it is disrespectful and not his place. Furthermore, his assertion that “woman” hangs in the neutral space between “bad” bitch and “better” lady is completely disrespectful due to its nature of once again trying to define a woman’s identity for her.
- The first verse infers blame on the mother. The little boy is apparently in a single-parent household and his mother is singing along to a song on the radio and asserts that she is a bad bitch. The little boy is watching and enjoying the music with her and begins creating a schema of “bad bitches are women like my mother”. This strips away the tons of other images and concepts that the boy is bombarded with on a daily basis as well as the possibility of conversation with his mother about any of what he takes in. In short, everything he knows about bad bitches has been learned through his mother.
- The second verse infers blame on the little girls. The girls are watching internet videos alone and see a rapper and a video actress playing their respective roles in whatever video. Without parental guidance, they internalize this other “bad bitch” concept and create their own schema of “bad bitches dress sexy (according to what men want) and are desired”. They start to mimic it. Again, other images and concepts that they face are left out and there’s no possibility of anyone speaking to these girls about what they’re seeing OR of them critically thinking about what they’re seeing and doing. They simply internalize and that’s it.
- The third verse creates a highly unlikely scenario that places blame on the little girl who grew up and the video girl.The rapper is really only blamed in the video (via his crying while removing blackface makeup) and not in the song. The little girl and the little boy grow up and meet. The little girl, having internalized the images of the “bad bitch” (apparently ONLY from those videos) is dressing “provocatively” in shorts, a tank, heels, etc. It is stated that she’s smart DESPITE these things, even though dress and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. The boy who has grown up to think that bad bitches fit his mental archetype of his mother, is repulsed. She doesn’t dress or act like his mother and she isn’t desirable. This message isn’t the full story. True, women are rejected by men for their dress due to stereotypes (i.e., you can’t make a hoe a housewife and if she dresses like a hoe…), but it’s not due to what they think a bad bitch is. The “bad bitch” stereotype tends to play itself out in young men as the objectification of women and a demand/desire that they be sexy, sultry, cater to their sexual fantasies and desires. The rejection of this image only comes when it’s not about sex and it becomes about “wifing” her.
- Internalized issues about patriarchy are ignored and all the blame is misplaced. Really, the issues Lupe are talking about stem from oppressive patriarchy and white supremacy. The oversexualization of women that goes hand in hand with slutshaming is a direct result of a patriarchal society that wishes to define women in order for them to be what men want. The hypersexualization of Black women in general comes from white supremacist ideology that’s been internalized since chattel slavery. The blame, in this case, falls on the video girl, the single mother, and rap music, even though the issues Lupe is describing would exist without any of those factors. The only nod to issues of white supremacy comes with the rapper and video actress putting on blackface (which is not fully unpacked in the song or the video) and the white man counting money outside the theater that the video is set in (who is NEVER acknowledged in the song).
- The phrase “I’m killing these bitches” is repeated. I’d like to give Lupe the benefit of the doubt here and say that what he is inferring is the “death” of the “bad bitch” stereotype that he believes is detrimental. However, it also alludes to violence against women, either physically or in their assertion and creation of their own identity.
Overall, the issue becomes one of reinforcing patriarchy by making it a man’s place to “protect” a woman by defining her. The surface message is that Lupe is trying to elevate his Black sisters by teaching them to be beyond reproach and more than a regurgitation of what they’ve seen. However, what it really does is place significant blame on women for ever internalizing these images while ignoring patriarchal issues like the men who support the internalization of being hypersexual by women while simultaneously shaming it.
Lupe had a great opportunity to be profound and completely missed the exit from jump.
according to a fauxminist in my ask box. Just letting you know. I was previously unaware.
So, not racism, misogyny, institutionalized oppressions, or rape culture…oh. I need dumb motherfuckers to stay silent.
I got this question, in addition to a link (here) and a suggestion that I have internalized misogyny. Okay, mom.
lemme reblog so i can read your response and commentary. people stay trippin. rap is to blame cause men black men. rawr.
When one of these faux allies manages to address the racism & misogyny in country, rock, or metal lyrics? Wake me. Until then I’ll be over here drowning them out with Jean Grae.
Nelly stood in the first aid aisle of the CVS, holding two boxes of bandages. One was Band-Aid, and the other was the knockoff CVS brand. He held one in each hand, looking back and forth at the boxes.
He knew for sure that the Band-Aids were high quality, but they were expensive. He had four dollars in his wallet, and the Band-Aids were $3.99. The CVS brand seemed okay, but it was a risk. Sometimes offbrand bandages were too flimsy, or stretchy, or came unstuck when he sweated. He wasn’t expressing solidarity to his imprisoned brother if his bandage fell off in the street.
He thought of his brother, sitting alone in a small cell, his body thin but wiry from long prison workouts, the prison uniform loose at his waist and tight across his shoulders.
Nelly hadn’t written a letter in two weeks.
He put the CVS brand bandages back on the shelf and walked to the checkout counter. He set them down firmly, but gently.
“Just these,” Nelly said.
The girl at the counter scanned the bandages. She smacked her gum. “Four twenty-eight,” she said.
Nelly had forgotten about tax.
“Oh no,” he said quietly to himself. He began rummaging through all his pockets, searching for change. “Oh no, oh no, oh no.”
I was just discussing today how mainstream white media always likes to push out rap and hip hop as the most misogynistic and homophobic music to ever exist on the planet. White feminists have also joined in on this racist ass bandwagon, completely ignoring how many rap songs are indeed philosophical and have a deeper fucking meaning.
Prescriptive white feminists don’t want to hear the philosophical musings of Bone Thugs N Harmony about death, dying, religious faith and coping with loss.
They don’t want to hear about how Nicki uses her voice as a beacon because she is fighting for her own voice to be heard, and not some sexed up bullshit that men want her to be.
And they SURE AS HELL don’t want to remember how Tupac WAS MORE FEMINIST THAN THEIR ASSES EVER WILL BE.
They will gloss over the sexism, racism and homophobia of their classic rock superstars, focusing on the oh so bad black men who say “bitch and hoe.”
They ignore the fact that Eminem’s whiny ass advocated violence against the women in his life for the first half of his damn career, talmbout how he “redeemed” himself after he wrote songs about his daughter.
They claim that black men are the most sexist men on the planet while appropriating their culture and styles.
Ignorance is bliss for these folks.
When I point out that the primary consumers of the most violent rap are young white men I’ve had white women get incredibly defensive & insist that they aren’t the problem. It’s all those scary scary black men leading them astray & I’m like “Who do you think the execs are at these labels who pick which acts to back & which ones to ignore?” which never ends well because they point to Jay-Z or Dre & ignore the scores of rappers with mix tapes that sound nothing like their final product who can’t even get in a room with Jay-Z.
Ja Rule had just gotten home from his shift at Fashion Bug. He’d taken a part-time job to help finance studio time for his next album, but more and more it seemed like he would have switch to full time at the store. They had said he was Management Material, and it might be nice to have something stable for once, instead of having to put his hopes and dreams on the line every time he went into the studio. He’d tried so hard to get Jennifer Lopez to record “I’m Real, Part II” with him, but she’d stopped returning his calls. He wondered if she was his friend any more.
He got out his phone and started typing a text message to DMX, but then decided it wasn’t worth it. DMX had been venturing out of the sewers less and less these days. There was no way he wanted to record tonight. Besides, it was late.
He opened his fridge. Things were bleak. Eggs that had gone bad two months ago. A little bit of orange juice. Some salsa. And that was it.
Just as he was about to close the door, he saw it: nestled behind a gallon of milk was a bowl half-full of Easy Mac that he’d made the other night but had been too depressed to eat. But now he was too hungry to even be depressed.
He grabbed the bowl and went over to the microwave and heated it up for a minute. It tasted terrible, but it would get him through the night.
After finishing his Easy Mac, he grabbed his coat and headed to the studio. His stomach hurt, but he told himself it was just his exhaustion catching up to him. Besides, he thought to himself. Pain is love.
Halfway through his studio session, he threw the Easy Mac up. His stomach loved him so much right now.
OH MY GOD.