Multi-talented creative Janelle Monáe took to Twitter earlier in the month to express her frustration at the blatant misogyny in hip hop. In one tweet Monae wrote, “Y’all can’t wait to call women every bitch , hoe , discuss violent acts against women, etc for clout in rap, rock, and through out music history. Misogyny has NEVER been okay yet it has become normalized. Women didn’t create misogyny, y’all did. SO YOU DO THE WORK to ABOLISH IT.”
Y’all can’t wait to call women every bitch , hoe , discuss violent acts against women, etc for clout in rap, rock, and through out music history. Misogny has NEVER been okay yet it has become normalized. Women didn’t create misogny, y’all did. SO YOU DO THE WORK to ABOLISH IT.— Janelle Monáe, Cindi Mayweather👽🚆🤖🚀🪐 (@JanelleMonae) July 3, 2020
Indeed for most part, misogyny is rarely addressed by men in hip hop, rather it’s either brushed off or justified as truth telling. We reached out to Philadelphia-based, Indian America rapper Taizu reached who provided his thoughts on the matter in an open letter addressed to men.
Check it out below.
Janelle Monáe wrote a series of tweets that became the catalyst for this open letter. I’ve been feeling frustrated with the general ambiance and ubiquity of male ego for some time now. It’s something that’s bothered me within hip hop, with my cultural upbringing as an Indian American male with rapes being reported every 15 minutes in India, and the overall imbalance we as males have created in our organized systems of life, work, and play.
I write this piece speaking from the side of the oppressor. Admittedly, I’ve made jokes and comments in the past that undermine the pain of inequality feminist and LGBTQ movements have worked to erase. I am not perfect by any means, no man is, but it’s not perfection I am preaching or hoping to project, but rather progress.
We are in a moment of reckoning, and we can and should use this energy to educate, empathize, and evolve to create a future where all humans can stand with equity and feel safe and proud of their innate truths. A future where masculinity isn’t defined by five key buzz words rooted in hormonal rage. Let’s grow together…”
I really only ever wanna hear women rapping . The amount of misogyny from most of men in rap and music is infuriating . We need to abolish that shit too .— Janelle Monáe, Cindi Mayweather👽🚆🤖🚀🪐 (@JanelleMonae) July 3, 2020
Dear men: I’m writing this letter to you, to us, to myself, as a reminder of how we’ve shaped our identity and sense of self around our reproductive organs. How society from the time of the Ice Age has forced us into various roles: defender, protector, procreator and authoritarian. Before we had organized survival on a grand scale, our brute strength was an asset we relied on heavily for the success of our gene pool.
We’ve expeditiously climbed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs yet we move unenlightened. We took power through strength, and conquered through force. The perceived vulnerability of pregnancy is at the root of man’s dominance and initial understanding of normalized gender roles. Survival instincts that are no longer required in an age where hunting consists of entering a cubicle followed by the supermarket.
But in a time where woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers roamed freely, and conveniences we take for granted were beyond fantasy, we created roles based on sex that suited survival in that moment. Now that we’ve organized survival in a manner which would exceed our ancestors’ wildest imaginations, how have we evolved in our thought? What does it mean to be a man in the modern world?
Some folks won’t retweet anything about sexism and mysogyny and abuse against women for fear they may be called out. Reformation is possible tho. If you do the work now you don’t have to live in fear. Free yourself.— Janelle Monáe, Cindi Mayweather👽🚆🤖🚀🪐 (@JanelleMonae) July 3, 2020
“First, let’s understand the characteristics and qualities we associate with manhood. Physical strength, large penis, dominant attitude, deep voice, attraction to women, and emotionally stoic are some of the common misconceptions we carry and perpetuate as truth. We are taught from a young age not to cry, that pink is for girls, and physical strength is power.
These ideas from adolescence structure our minds around outdated norms. Introduce sexuality and the plot thickens. Let me share my thesis before I elaborate: procreation is binary, sexuality is quantum. Ask a man if he’ll suck his own dick and he’ll say “that’s gay,” but the same man will go on Pornhub and give himself hand jobs daily. The idea that two men being together is not manly defies the very definition. We are conditioned from an early age that to be manly one must f*ck women. And I use that word intentionally, not LOVE women, but F*CK women.
Romance, emotional intelligence, and vulnerability are considered feminine traits though we all know masculinity itself is birthed from the feminine. If a woman sleeps with multiple men, she’s a harlot. If a man sleeps with multiple women, he’s a hero. This is the insecurity of male ego in full form. A man can cheat on his girlfriend with justified impunity but if his girlfriend returns the favor, it’s a moment of anger, chaos, and possibly violence. This is the assumed privilege that comes from millennia of dominance and unchecked testosterone.
This fear of judgement and perceived societal norms has not allowed us to fully explore our sexuality which in turn manifests into loathing oneself and others. Homophobia arises from ignorance and confusion. Having only understood a small piece of the sexual spectrum, homophobic men move with a cruel confidence only the ignorant can exude. Not to mention some of these same homophobic men would have no issue watching two women playing with one another, ohh the idiocracy.
Pairing knowledge and awareness requires introspection and any man moving with hatred in his heart needs to have a conversation with the mirror. The fact one carries poison in their mind based on who others choose to love or fuck speaks volumes on their discomfort with their own sexuality. To care so deeply how others express their sexuality highlights the self-care that is desperately needed and the generational ignorance we’ve yet to come to terms with.
These stereotypes are given new life and are seamlessly packaged and passed down to younger generations through art. Rappers repeated use of words such as f*ggot or bitches highlights the devaluing that has been taking place in hip hop for decades. So many harmful stereotypes that fundamentally alter children’s perspectives and understanding of the relationship between a man and a woman, and a man and another man.
If this is what we continue to feed our youth, what do we expect to come out on the other end? Society has put boxes around the idea of what it means to be a man. Religions have built empires on the bodies of homosexual men, women, and children while denouncing them as outcasts and unfit in the eyes of “he who made them.” Oh the irony.
All of these factors from a young age mold our outlook and understanding of sexuality. The fact we are taught perfection by imperfect people speaks to the epidemic of blind faith. We must unlearn these toxic views of what it means to be a man. Love, compassion, morality, altruism, understanding, awareness should form our compass for the future. The age of the barbarian is coming to an end. The age of enlightenment requires a different set of tools and an evolved understanding of humanity.
Men, it’s time for us to speak up. To be honest with ourselves and those around us. Our relationships with women have empirically been one of control and dominance, we are therefore responsible to clean up the mess we have made.
The stigmas of homosexuality should be relics of the dark ages, yet they cast a shadow on the light of tomorrow. We cannot allow this. We must confront our inherent trauma of a testosterone-fueled manliness, and tribal instincts that made sense at a time when the world was flat. We must adopt a more rounded perspective and a more grounded approach.
Speak out when your bros degrade women or anyone from the LGBTQ community to stir up a cheap laugh. Adjust your vocabulary and remove terms of endangerment which minimize the value of women and those from the LGBTQ community. Proactively observe your behavior and privilege when engaging with anyone who is a non-hetero male as this boy’s club mentality and perverse locker room talk can lead to violence and the perpetuation of ignorance and hatred.
We cannot remain silent any longer. Let’s grow together and elevate the standards within our communities and cultures. We created the structures of oppression, it’s our duty to now tear them down. It all begins with a simple shift in paradigm. Look deeper. Think harder. And love fully. We are in this together.