I am not a big fan of cultures be it in music or conversations that belittle the dignity of women. By refusing to buy into these cultures I hope to do my part, no matter how small, even if only for the benefit of keeping a clean conscience, in protecting women, my girlfriends, sisters and mothers from these harmful cultures. Surprisingly though, I am often shocked to find that the women I am trying to protect do not share my concerns.
When I used to hear a song objectifying women, promoting their subservience to men, I used to think that the women wouldn’t dance to it. Well not only do they dance to it, they also promote it to their friends. And I am not referring merely to explicit content cos that’s fine by me so long as it’s to an appropriate audience and there is mutual respect between the parties involved. Rather my issue is with the fact that this music is not only explicit but also demeaning to women.
And what’s the result, sexism is validated. Because if I called you a bitch and you replied with a yes sir, then there couldn’t be anything wrong with that. And it might be that these women do not actually like being called bitches and whores but that they have given up altogether on trying to fight a losing battle. So they have bought into the sexist culture because it seems to pay more than being stuck up bold by demanding respect in a misogynist majority.
What they don’t realize though is that the situation only gets worse for women. For what is to stop a boy that has been taught by his older brothers that the number of women he can deceive into sleeping with him validates him as a man from seeing women as merely a means to feed his ego? What is to stop a man who was told since childhood that sex is a right as opposed to a privilege in marriage from raping his wife? The problem is that these boys were introduced to the hardcore porn equivalent of sexism at a time when they were supposed to be schooled in matters of gender equality and manhood.
When we allow for our culture to be polluted with explicit and subtle sexism, it eventually gets to our heads and the occasional talk, presentation or sermon on respect for women can not reverse it.
And the concern here is not only that boys become sex offenders or assault women but also that they will not respect their female superiors, women will be passed for promotions in favor of less-qualified men and women aspire to be less than their male counterparts so as to protect their egos.
When you call a woman a bitch, slut or whore; when you objectify her God-given endowments like it’s a crime she was born that way; when you insult her intelligence in front of other men, it feels good, doesn’t it? But you can not do these and love your mother, sister, girlfriend, wife, and daughter at the same time. Because the abuse you personally spare the women in your life you instead perpetuate by instructing other men to inflict it on them.
In the end, it’s not just a riddim, it’s not an innocent joke and it’s not just locker room talk but rather an instrument of violence on the people we love and care about. And I understand that we can not simply shut down all the sexist voices around us for they are quite a number but that we can all do our part in stopping their propagation for as long as it depends on us. With our collective efforts, who knows there might be a time when all such voices would be a thing of the past.
Featured image: Lil Wayne graffiti from pixabay