Archives for posts with tag: racism

Today I want to discuss the rapper Macklemore. Specifically, I want to talk about his song “Same Love.”

Now, when I first heard this song, I loved it. I thought it was brilliant and amazing and basically perfect in every way. It gave me chills. Parts of it still do.

Then I started seeing some critiques of it -very important critiques that I think need to be more talked about.

If you have never heard the song (where have you been?) you can listen to it here.

You can read the lyrics here.

The first critique that I have heard about this is that Macklemore (a.k.a. Ben Haggerty) is heterosexual. He is not gay, or queer, or bi, or any other form of a LGBTQ identity. This is not inherently problematic in and of itself, obviously.

The problem is that he has now become an icon for the LGBTQ activist movement because of this song.

Instead of listening to actual queer rappers (and there are plenty), people have instead decided that a heterosexual man can accurately rap about the difficulties of being gay even when he has never experienced those difficulties himself. As one article wrote, “Whether it is intentional or not, Macklemore has become the voice of a community to which he doesn’t belong in a genre that already has a queer presence waiting to be heard by mainstream audiences.”

There is also the issue (second critique) of his whiteness, because along with whiteness comes White Privilege. (Macklemore discusses his White Privilege in a song titled “White Privilege”.) The same article cited above talks about how Macklemore conflates LGBTQ rights with Black civil rights. He completely overlooks his White Privilege as well as his Heterosexual Privilege throughout the song.

For example, the first line of the second verse is “If I was gay, I would think that hip-hop hates me”. Hip hop specifically emerged from Black communities in New York as a response to White suppression and dominance. In this one line, Macklemore is attacking an entire genre of music -as well as the Black people who created and sustained it -for being homophobic.

He continues to critique hip hop (and Black people) with the line: “A culture founded from oppression, yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em”. This is even more problematic than the first line. It completely erases any queer person of color -especially queer rappers/singers of color -who are involved in LGBTQ activism, and it shoves more blame on people of color who are homophobic than White people who are homophobic. “This line of argument suggests that homophobia perpetrated by people of color is somehow worse because they should have known better as people who are also oppressed. Furthermore, when white people are homophobic, it is less condemnable because they don’t know what it is like.” (x)

Basically, this song is full of “microaggressions” against people of color (mostly Black people) as well as LGBTQ people. “What?” you say, “Same love doesn’t demean gay people -it’s all about equality!” The biggest microaggression against LGBTQ people is when Macklemore decided to drop the word “f*gg*t” in the second verse, even thought it is an extremely offensive and homophobic slur. That is not okay. It will never be okay.

Just because Macklemore is “standing up” for LGBTQ equality with the song “Same Love” does not mean that he can’t get things wrong and/or make mistakes. Just because he has a song called “White Privilege” doesn’t mean that he will always recognize it when it appears, or that it just suddenly disappeared when he wrote the song. No matter what, he is still a white heterosexual male and while that is not inherently bad, it is something that needs to be remembered when he’s rapping about hip hop and homophobia.

Upholding him and this song as an icon for the LGBTQ community activism is not okay. People who are actually LGBTQ rappers should be heard over him -people who have actually experienced homophobia or other types of cis-sexual/heteronormative aggressions. Again, you can find lists of them here.

I’m not saying that heterosexual people can’t talk about homophobia, or that white people can’t talk about racism. However, I am saying that when people with privilege talk about oppression that they do not experience themselves, they need to listen very intently when people talk who do experience that oppression. That is the only way we will learn -by listening, by reading, by talking with other people who are different from us and trying to recognize our own privilege.

There are parts of “Same Love” that are great -I love his critique of religion/religious institutions, and his mention of LGBTQ bullying and suicide. But this song is not without its problems, and people need to realize that.

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I do not know how to start this post. I am angry. I am tired. I am tired of being angry.

There is often a lot of discussion surrounding ‘privilege’, at least there is on the Tumblr community. Privilege is what people in positions of power have in society. So, there is male privilege, which allows men to access things (capital, in the Marxist/Bourdieu-ian sense)  more easily than women. There is also white privilege, which allows white people to access better capital than people of color. There is cis privilege over trans* people; heterosexual privilege over LGBT*Q; and so on and so forth.

For examples of male privilege, see here or here.

Now, it has been my absolute honor to come across an article claiming female privilege.

Let me now explain how this article is complete and utter bullshit.

1. I’m allowed to be far more open about my sexuality than a man is. In fact, if I’m bisexual, it’s encouraged (both male and females encourage it funnily enough). If I’m hetero, I’m allowed to make comments about how hot men are, compliment men without others thinking it’s harassment and generally can make lewd comments about any person, be them male or female, and it’s considered ok. I can say “I fancy him so much I’d  even rape him” or “I need to pull him into the storeroom and show him I mean it” or “He is mega hot” about any male whether  he is seventeen (I am forty) or seventy. I can sit in a Twilight movie and drool at Jacob (for instance), and not be seen as a dirty old woman.

Women can only be open about their sexuality when it is approved of BY MEN. If you didn’t notice, she did not mention lesbianism, which only involves women. If a woman identifies as a lesbian, she will be told that she only likes women because she hasn’t had a good dick or a good fucking yet. In fact, even porn with “lesbians” in it is made for the men who watch it, and not for actual lesbians, which can be shown by the heavy emphasis on vaginal penetration. Bisexuality is only acceptable when she eventually settles down with a man, because then she will be seen as “really heterosexual”.

She is also completely erasing the Madonna/Whore complex. If a woman has sex before marriage, she is seen as a slut and a whore and deserving of any sexual assault that befalls her. Meanwhile, if she doesn’t have sex, she is a prude or a stuck up bitch or an ice queen. So tell me again how women’s sexualities are not controlled by men and how women are so free?

2. If my partner and I were in a domestic dispute and both violent, or both shouting, and I hit him … if the police were called, my male partner would still be the one far more likely to be taken into custody for the night. If my male partner tried to report domestic violence, it would be harder for him to have the charges laid, than if I did so. In fact, while there is a charge of Male assaults Woman in my country, there is no Woman assaults Male. That would be classified instead as General Assault.

Perhaps the male partner would be arrested, but let’s talk about what happens afterwards. The average prison sentence of men who kill their women partners is 2 to 6 years, while women who kill their male partners are sentenced on average to 15 years. This is despite the fact that 86% of female offenders kill in self-defense, while males are most likely to kill out of possessiveness (82%), abuse (75%) and during arguments (63%). Women are eight times more likely than men to be killed by an intimate partner.

Also, let’s talk about the fact that men are only allowed to show two emotions: anger/rage and lust. This is EXTREMELY harmful to the men in our society, and it is (one of) the reason(s) why men are disproportionally the one’s who commit assault (sexual assault, general assault, and domestic violence), have road rage, and commit murder. This is a problem and it needs to be fixed! THIS IS PART OF FEMINISM.

3. If my relationship with the father of my children was to break up, I’m far more likely to get the kids. And if I want a child, but don’t have a partner, I can do that too. I get to choose whether I have the baby or not, I get to choose whether the father’s name is on the birth certificate or not (and if he queries it, he’s the one who has to pay for the DNA test) and if he’s named as the father, he then has to pay child support, whether he was aware I was trying to have a child or not.

Yes, the reproductive rights of women are absolutely brilliant right now. No, really, it’s great.

Left out of her claims are the following facts:

1 –there are currently 31 states where a rapist can sue for custody of his child born from the rape. Also, let’s not forget that this happened

2 –the reason why women are often given custody is because of the sexist idea that women are better with children and more nurturing while men cannot be tied down that way because they have to be able to move to work

3 –working mothers lose more custody battles than they win

Also, are we just going to completely ignore the fact that if a woman does not want kids, people think there is actually something wrong with her? If a woman says that she never wants children, people will try to CONVINCE her that she actually does want kids, or that she’ll change her mind, or that kids are such a blessing. Are we just ignoring that? I guess we are.

4. I’m allowed to be as education- and career-driven as I want to be, and push for the top, seeking equity and equality in everything. But when it comes to dating and relationships, I’ll want the dates paid for, the doors opened, the bling bought. And if I want to choose to not be career-driven, and be instead at home, and not work, then I can far more readily choose that option too than a male partner could.

Women are “allowed” (by men) to be educated and career-driven, but it will cost them in many ways. Women are “allowed” to be career-driven, as long as they somehow figure out how to work and still do all of the house work and childcare. Women are “allowed” to be career-driven, as long as they are okay with never making more than their male peers and never being in a position of authority over them. Women are “allowed” to be career-driven  as long as they work above and beyond their male companions in order to even be noticed, and even then their achievements will probably be awarded to the men they work with.

Also, if women do well in academia or in the work-place, then they are immediately suspect. Claims are made that they “slept” their way to the top, because CLEARLY a woman cannot get into any position of power without having sex. This accusation has been leveled on me before, because I graduated with honors and won academic awards before moving on to date one of my previous professors.

In regards to the second part of her statement: the idea that men should pay for everything on a date is sexist and it comes from the idea that men are the breadwinners in society and women don’t/shouldn’t work, so how could they pay for anything? This is also a problem in society, and it needs to be fixed, but I’m not convinced it happens epidemically.

5. If I write an inflammatory comment, or a blog, or article, and a man questions anything in it, all I need to do to shut the conversation down is call him a bully, or say he’s a privileged male. I can also make disparaging comments about his sexuality, his economic standing, the size of his penis, and his ability to do pretty much anything in return for him disagreeing with me. I can do this, because when I do, I KNOW there will be a bunch of other women who will stick up for me. Because as a woman … I now have privilege.

Sure, a woman can try to “shut a man up” by calling him privileged or a bully. Want to know how to shut down a woman during an argument? Claim she’s on her period. Or, wait, no –just say she’s a crazy bitch who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Or, I’ve got it, this one’s good –say that she is being a typical woman and over-reacting. These things are called “gaslighting”, and they are all a form of mental abuse that happen all the time. So, let’s be honest, it is MUCH easier to silence a woman than a man during an argument.

Any notion of “female privilege” is either bullshit or is perpetuated by different strains of sexism and patriarchy. I will accept, however, that cis women have more privilege than trans* women (also due to patriarchy and trans-phobia). I will also gladly take responsibility for and accept my white privilege, because I definitely have that.

I refuse to accept that I have any form of female privilege that is NOT directly perpetuated by sexism and/or patriarchy. Just because patriarchy and sexism can backfire and hurt men as well as women does not mean that women have any sort of dominance or privilege over men. Period.

Someday I will actually write something that is not a response to something else that is completely wrong, but today is not that day.