I adore you, from the peak of your perfection-is-perfected tongue down to the brick wall’s crevice where you paint a name, a saying, a love note and down to the way your body sprays across concrete, limbs collecting pebbles and broken glass like sacred childhood memories. I love the way you move, so seamlessly that it seems senselessly but you know and I know that everything—every beat against bass, every drip of spray paint, every time your body contorts itself into a new shape—has a purpose.People say I don’t know you like they do because y’all grew up together, ran together like two melting candles dripping into one glass. They say I met you when you were old and washed up, when you had said everything you needed to say, done everything you needed to do. They tell me stories about you; about the time Ice Cube had a good day, when Public Enemy taught us how to fight the power, about the time you physically separated an entire country in half and started your own war in the name of good music and pride, about the time when the United States Congress recognized you as an important social “problem.”You were reckless as a kid, Hip Hop, and I wish I could’ve seen that side of you firsthand, but the stories you tell today are just as riveting. Hearing your history has made me fall in love. I wanted to be you when I grew up—fearless, powerful, savvy—I wanted my art to move like yours. And even though you are dangerous, cruel, and sometimes even heartless, I don’t think I could ever want to change you.But for some reason, Hip Hop, you want to change me.
The other day I was listening to a relatively recently released song by upcoming rapper A$AP Rocky titled F**king Problems featuring rappers 2 Chainz, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar. A$AP finishes the first verse with “turn a dyke bitch out/have her fucking boys.” This line isn’t my first clue into the homophobia that exists in and permeates through your culture. Simply sifting through collections of A Tribe Called Quest, Eminem, and even your more politically and socially conscious stars like Common and Talib Kweli, homophobia is apparent, hostile, and violent. And this is, essentially, a well-known fact.
What I want us to talk about today Hip Hop, is the very particular way in which you both sexualize and demonize, in the same breath, women who sleep with, date, and/or love other women.
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When male hip hop artists speak vulgarly and sexually about women, it’s often been explained as attempts to appear (more) masculine, more sexually desired by women thus cooler/richer/more attractive. But, let’s look at A$AP Rocky’s aforementioned lyric—is this truly all about a misogynistic fantasy, strictly about sexuality? The use of “boys” suggests that, after A$AP and the woman finish, she will be so “impressed” and “sprung” that she will only sleep with men. Perhaps this would show some sexual “prowess” on A$AP’s part, but it also demonstrates a call to reverse the irreversible. We are attractive, in a sense, as wanted items but can only reach the height of our sexual-ness as a woman with lesbian “tendencies” or “histories.”
Similarly, in Eminem’s (who has long been known for his violent, sexist, misogynistic lyrics) song Bagpipes from Baghdad he raps, “In the bed with two…lesbians/I bet you they become heterosexual/Nothing will stop me from molesting you.” Again, the insistence on “altering” orientation alongside of a direct lack of consent. In We Made You,Eminem begs for Lindsay Lohan to leave her then-girlfriend, Samantha Ronson: “he does not mean to lesbian offend/but Lindsay please go back to seeing men/Samantha’s a two, you’re practically a ten” thus suggesting that queer women cannot be beautiful, that queerness is akin to “settling for less,” that attraction and sexuality and orientation are revocable. And in the explicit version of one of his more popular songs, My Name Is, Eminem says, “extraterrestrial, killing pedestrians/raping lesbians/while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’”
And, Hip Hop, don’t tell me they don’t mean it—don’t tell the same-old, same-old, that rappers and musicians just use homophobia as a way to prove masculinity. Don’t make excuses for them.
Then there’s Kanye West whose love (obsession?) with queer women goes unmatched. Kanye “would do anything for a blonde dyke,” travels with “dyke twins,” “after each and every show” has “a couple dykes in the van.” Kanye considers himself a connoisseur of queer women; he thinks he knows that “girls” who kiss girls aren’t really queer: “unless they use a strap-on then they not dykes.”
I want so much to love you endlessly but sometimes, it gets hard walking into a brick wall day after day, never being fully able to escape. As much as you confirm my existence and my struggles, you also erase me, ignore me, defile me. Sometimes you hate me so much that you keep repeating yourself over and over again and sometimes you want me so much that you can’t control yourself. And that’s not what love is supposed to be.
I think if we could hear each other’s voices, we could figure something out, bridge some gaps, make amends. We’ve both got our scars and stories; yours are beautiful, by the way.
“Time to heal each other.”
a girl who thinks the world of you
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Mick is a junior studying Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, African American Studies, and Creative Writing at the University of Connecticut. She likes good novels, good poetry, and good company in no particular order.
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