Monday, February 16, 2009

best intentions gone horribly awry

it's president's day, gorgeous out (but probably cold enough to freeze my nose hairs) and i am home! bwa-ha-ha! (non profits may not have much in terms of salary, but they really give you all the holidays they can.)

so i'm sitting here, with all this free time to write, and i'm wondering what my monday post should be. after all, i have the opportunity to really fisk the hell out of some current event, or reveal my life's convoluted inner contradictions, or at least pound out a few snarkily condemning paragraphs on something. i even have time to draft my Awkward Sermon draft for the Geez contest i'm entering.

there's so much going on!
OctoMom and the vitriol her story has inspired (this post by Twisty is nifty for it.)
Chris Brown's domestic violence issues (Jay Smooth's interview with Elizabeth Mendez Berry is making the rounds so check it out here.)
Black History Month and the ongoing conversation about whether it's still necessary (yes, it is.)
The shenanigans in DC and whether our expectations of Obama need to be dialed back a bit (do you really wanna give our first black president a stroke??)

so, yeah. i'm sitting here, the day spread out in front of me like a delicious blank page and all i want to do is head up north to LTF's place, hang out, watch horror movies, read a graphic novel or two and frolic a bit.


No Nonsense said...

Go go go to LTF! The day is blank page right?

ding said...


Orange said...

Obama's helicopter went right past me on the way back to O'Hare. This is way cooler than when Bush visited a school a few blocks from me.

Did you read Mendez Berry's long note in the RSS feed version of that post? I don't know why it wasn't in the Ill Doctrine post. Here 'tis:

A conversation with Elizabeth Mendez Berry, who wrote the Vibe magazine's 2005 Love Hurts feature about domestic violence within (and without) hip-hop. She also passed along this note, on the question of how hip-hop and pop culture's influence factor into the whole thing:

The problem with conversations about culture's impact on behavior is that they're so extreme they don't make any sense: either Marilyn Manson caused Columbine, or he's just a poet reflecting the world around him. The defenders of these stark positions usually have a vested, often financial, interest in one or the other (Tipper Gore? Russell Simmons?). As a hip hop nerd who's memorized an embarrassing number of lyrics, I know music affects me-- that's why I keep coming back to it-- but I would never use Ghostface's "Run" or MOP's "Ante Up" as a defense in a court of law. You can quote me on that. Our culture-- from government to sports to video games on down-- teaches us that violence is an appropriate response to conflict. Hip hop is not alone in reinforcing that idea, and if anything, the vast majority of the victims of lyrical violence in hip hop are men. But if you listen to a song like "Ante Up," it won't make you go out and rob somebody. It's just another contribution to a broader climate that normalizes violence and a particular brand of bravado. It's like if all your closest friends are giving you the same advice (and you know some of us listen closer to our favorite rapper than we do to our best friend). That doesn't make you do something, but it can make it seem like a reasonable option. When it comes to violence against women, I think that hip hop has been an unusually frank advocate. There are plenty of beloved rappers, from Notorious B.I.G. to Snoop to Jadakiss to even Big Boi who brag about hitting women, and very few people in hip hop critique that. So again, I think it's contributing to a climate where "keeping bitches in check" physically is another acceptable part of the cultural wallpaper. And those rhymes are just "entertainment," part of a persona? Not necessarily, because then you find out-- as I did about several rappers including Biggie-- that he actually beats up women outside the vocal booth too. Keeping it real, right? So like men everywhere, some rappers are straight-up woman beaters, and they have a platform to promote that, and a community that mostly turns a blind eye (or a sharp tongue: "I'm sure she hit him first," "I heard she cheated"). But most rappers aren't abusers and they don't talk about hitting women, and most hip hop isn't violent against women in a smack-that-bitch-up kind of way. Instead there's a casual "bitch this" "ho that" dismissiveness that shrinks women's humanity and emphasizes their orifices. How does that affect attitudes in a broader world that already belittles and sexualizes women of color? It definitely doesn't help. Constantly dehumanizing a group of people can sometimes make it easier to mistreat them. Imagine that. That's why some female hip hop heads move away from the mainstream as we get older and less patient with 18-year-olds bragging about supermanning us-- and with other women whose response is always "he's not talking about me," when the dude is pointing right at them (or at their daughters). Personally, I'd love to live in the world of hip hop all day everyday, but the position I'm offered there is just too uncomfortable (ass up, face down), and I don't have health insurance. In the end, I'm more concerned about the acceptance of nonstop sexism in music than I am about references to abuse of women. As with violence, hip hop didn't create sexism, but it can amplify it and set it to a voluptuous beat that you can't get out of your head. You might not be able to get it out of your bedroom either, which is what Chris Brown and Rihanna's generation seems to be learning the hard way.

Jay Smooth is adorable, ain't he?

ding said...

he is! (even though i'm not into hip hop at all and never know who it is he's talking about.)

thanks for her comment; i'll check out the thread again and see what the reaction has been.