Words By Marky Mark
After doing my normal Sunday routine, which consists mostly of me screaming at my television and wondering why the Giants can’t make it easier on themselves for their sake and mine, I watched a video of a very emotional Amber Rose at her first-ever SlutWalk. Now for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, the SlutWalk is an event Amber put together to combat slut-shaming, sexism, and the double standards we have in our society when it comes to how men and women are viewed when it comes to sex.
By most accounts, Saturday’s event was powerful and inspirational to the women in attendance and that’s a great look. Her telling her story in the video, explaining what inspired the event, giving some broad strokes of her relationships with Kanye and Wiz, explaining why their words hurt her, and saying that she forgives them is also a good look. She said, “I want to forgive Kanye for what he said about me. I want to let all of that negativity go.” For Wiz, she was even more personal. “As you can imagine, him being the love of my life, regardless of us going through a separation or not it was extremely hurtful,” she said. “I also forgive Wiz for what he said. Wiz actually apologized to me already, so I have forgiven him.”
But here’s my question: Now what?
We can get into what her event and the seemingly national conversation on gender equality means to society as a whole but for right now, what does it mean hip-hop culture? This is a culture that a lot of us eat, sleep, and breathe, and we know it backwards and forwards, meaning we know that it’s always been a boy’s club. In fact, hip-hop is almost the He-Man Woman Haters Club from the Little Rascals. It’s run by a bunch of guys who make their own rules and very rarely do women get to be a part of it and when they do, they better know their place, or else. Hip-Hop and gender equality haven’t always gone hand-in-hand and that’s obvious when we look at the number of prominent male MCs compared to female MCs or just the content of the music itself.
Or, we can just look at Amber’s situation specifically and question what is it about our culture that let’s one cat think it’s cool to say to a national audience that he had to take 30 showers after being with her and another to call her just “a stripper” when she’s the mother to his child. Why is it that our music celebrates guys who call women “bitches,” “thots”, “sluts” or anything else outside of their name and feel like the guys who don’t are soft or simps?
If this is indeed a man’s world, as James Brown would have me to believe, then the only way for any of this to change is for men to decide to act differently. It’s a sad truth but it’s still a fact that no matter how many SlutWalks, SlutMarches, or SlutSit-Ins Amber or any like-minded female does, there’s always going to be that sign outside of the club that says “No girls allowed. Unless…” and that’s sad. Women have powerful voices but in hip-hop, it doesn’t even out.
As a guy raised by a woman, I’ve always had this inner-conflict when it comes to listening to and loving this music that I know moms wasn’t a fan of specifically because of the way its artists treat women. Chris Rock said it best, “I love rap music, but it’s hard to defend ‘I got hoes in different area codes’.” But, when it comes to how I treat women or think of women, the music never made an impact on me. That’s just me. What about the next man? What about the very impressionable kid who can get music so much easier now than I could when I was a kid and sees that these cats are rewarded for calling a woman a slut because of what she’s wearing, who she’s having sex with and sometimes, who she’s not having sex with?
I’m glad Amber did this, I hope others listen to her message, and that it helps a young woman who may be feeling like crap all because she decided to wear something revealing or, God forbid, had sex. In our culture, men are the ones that really need to have these conversations with each other and decide that maybe, just maybe, we should get rid of that “No girls allowed” sign entirely, grow up, and stop being little rascals.