Thursday, July 02, 2009

make her say



EDIT: i'm all conflicted on this song now. check this story out if you're interested in tackling some feminist analysis.   i won't get too deep, but having gone over the lyrics, I an agree that it does not in fact have anything it it that is particularly respectful or venerating of women.  do i have any thoughts?
  • this is about common and kanye potentially abusing their status as "conscious," and so its inaccurate to conflate all conscious hip hop with this sort of analysis
  • the article consistently conflates oral sex with sexual violence, using as its point of departure the use of the word "brain" and assuming that its implies actually inserting penis into someone's brain, which i would argue is a too literal interpretation.  what about "head" and "blowjob"?  are there not folks who actively use the phrase "blowjob" and yet do so not in the context of sex work or thinking of it as a chore?
  • she states "Nor does it really help to free any individual woman; women who agree to this kind of abusive sex are frequently used, by men, to pressure those of us who admit to disliking it into doing it anyway."  This is a form of victim blaming.  Its "sex-negative" if you will.  This argument could be extendedto saying that anyone who enjoys BDSM relationships is effectively contributing to sexism.  I would argue that this is close-minded, anti-feminist and hurtful to those who practice such behaviors or who explore potentially "violent" scenarios in loving, caring relationships.
  • She does respond to this critique, somewhat extensively, but I think by the crux of her argument that we have fundamental differences around this piece ... i'll try to quote a particularly telling phrase:  "Thinking critically about issues of power inequities or asking difficult questions about sexual violence could threaten to put a damper on this “sexiness parade,” and yet, it is precisely such eroticizing of power and powerlessness that keeps traditional, patriarchal constructs of gender and sexuality afloat."  This is just so opposite from what I've witnessed in folks who explore BDSM, or "[eroticize] power and powerlessness".  The biggest piece in most(/healthy) BDSM relationships is trust.  Boundaries are carefully mapped out, established and maintained.  This is something that for some people outside of the BDSM community never do, and yet almost all BDSM relationships have it.  To be glib, in BDSM relationships the person with the most actual power is always the "bottom" or "submissive," because they have the safeword that stops anything else from happening.  
  • I can agree wholeheartedly that the endless, ubiquitous use of "bitch" simply equating with "woman" is misogynous, sexist and needs to stop.  That's not my argument.  
  • There's an unwillingness to negotiate some of the material that I find unsettling (although at same time understandable, considering that the author describes finding the song personally traumatic at the beginning), but when she interprets these lines, "I’m hopin’ she a rider / When it’s said and done / And she spit it up and swallow now" she writes, "There is no doubt in my mind that this song is describing an oral rape; specifically, it describes a group rape of one woman by several men. Any intelligent adult could draw the same conclusion from even a casual listen to these lyrics."  I don't necessarily draw the same conclusion.  It might be a vocabulary issue for me, but when I hear "rider" I think of someone who likes to be on top.  But I'm writing about this here instead of over at her site because I don't really want to harsh her and her like-minded people, but I have a hard time with someone who says that any who doesn't read/analyze lyrics the same as they do is not an intelligent adult.
That's it I guess.  Summary:  I partially agree with the author.  Song makes me uncomfortable, I probably will not to listen to it any more, but I have a problem with the across-the-board condemnation of BDSM/roleplaying relationships and perhaps the assumption that the only kind of sex women should be having is the kind that this author doesn't think brings down the gender.  And I think that we should work strongly to avoid a culture of both victim blaming and the "othering" of sexual practices we find uncomfortable but have been established within loving, caring relationships.  
Thanks for listening.  I'd love to hear other people's thoughts.


1 comment:

  1. i think when cudi says he hopes she's a "rider", he is saying that he hopes she conforms 100% to his dominance fantasy ideal of a woman who wants to please him by performing oral sex on him, despite any inhibition or moral repugnation she might have. "gangsta" rap lingo has permeated most hip-hip to a certain extent, and in this case, cudi might be wondering if his partner is "down to ride" for him and his fantasy in a "gangsta" sense.

    i agree that the whole brain thing is misconstrued in the essay. "brains" is simply one of the many euphemisms that have cropped up over the years. i'm not defending it or anything, just saying that i don't think anyone wants to hurt someone elses brain when they're getting oral sex. unless they're really sick and twisted.

    is the whole coercion/violence/rape aspect even all that prevalent in the song? i agree that its there, BUT is a valid interpretation that these usually "conscious" (and implicitly women-respecting) rappers are stating "tonight, as a sexually confident human, i'm out here trying to find someone who understands that i'm interesting only in meeting a physical pleasure desire... forget about whether or not i've been labeled as "conscious" in the past... i don't WANT that to matter to tonight... i just want a sex act... take it or leave it!" i know i can find some lil' kim lyrics to put on the other side of the scale here. in fact, i think i can find some lil' kim lyrics that contain a far more blatantly violent and coercive aura than what's being felt in the poker face song.

    Another interesting point here: I don't know about anyone else, but after a 2nd and 3rd listen to the original "poker face" song by lady gaga, I definitely picked up on an intentionally soft "p" sound in her pronunciation of "poker", so as to make it sound like something else. listen for it, you'll hear it. what's with that? its probably just meant to foment scandal and sell more records, but its interesting that a woman is involved at the root of the issue here.

    please pardon the fact that my lack of experience and eloquence in discussing these types of matters might make my comments sound like an ignorant defense of dangerous, misogynous rap songs. it is not my intent to make such a defense, but instead i simply want to consider the topic from other angles.

    ReplyDelete

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