Oh Kanye. sigh.
Before I dive in, I do want to give full disclosure: I am a huge fan of Kanye West. Mr. West's music spoke directly to my experiences of being from the southside of Chicago. He's been instrumental in music careers of many of my Chicago favorites (Common, Twista, Lupe, Do or Die, etc.) and has paved the way for young acts like Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, Saba, Mick Jenkins, and others. Not only does he continually compose amazing music, many of his albums have pushed popular creative bounds (808s and Heartbreak arguably changed the sound of contemporary music). My iPod houses just about all of his available catalog (though I'm not much of a fan Yeezus).
But yesterday, Kanye West (who doesn't tweet often) went full Call of Duty on his timeline in a fiery dispute with rapper Wiz Khalifa. Wiz commented on the ownership of the term "wavy" (which can be seen as accusing Kanye, who changed his upcoming album title from "Swish" to "Waves", of stealing the term from rapper Max B). Khalifa then tweeted "hit this KK and become yourself", which Kanye took as the initials of his wife, Kim Kardashian. Wiz responded that KK was "marijuana", not Mrs. West, but Kanye was not buying it (you can see the full exchange here)
Granted, I do enjoy good clapback. A daily helping of petty keeps the doctor away ("I am your OG and I will be respected as such" should be on a T-shirt immediately). And to be fair, Kanye has the right to defend his wife (though it begs the question of whether or not she wants or needs defending) if she really was being insulted. But Ye took the exchange to a really problematic level. Weaponizing your ex, who also is a mother, and dragging her son in the argument is embarrassing, disrespectful, misogynistic, and quite frankly- it's just corny.
Kanye's Twitter rampage is a case study in male fragility. Hypermasculinity is like a sandcastle; it looks sturdy, but crumbles with little effort, so even a hint of its destruction sparks vigorous defensiveness. It is reactionary and retaliatory, and the "best" way men think they can crush the ego of other men is through the women they are or were with. This why a "subtweet" could send the music icon off the edge.
Women's bodies are commonly used as ammo in a clapback contest between men. This objectifies women and dehumanizes men. But it's ironic that Kanye would issue the same kind of "I had her first" insult that Ray J directed at him and his own wife. We thought that was corny then, so even if Kanye is one of the preeminent artists of our generation, it still is.
Society uses hoe-housewife dichotomies to fit women into roles convenient for men's self-image. This especially plays out in situations where men match one woman's perceived vice to another's perceived virtue. Two women can do the same "slutty" things, and yet the description changes based on the difference in access and ownership to their body or sex. When that girl was with you, she was an angel. Now that she's not, she's a hoe.
Characterizing Amber Rose as a slut or a golddiger is extremely problematic, but it's also hypocritical, just like it was when Kanye said he needed to take "30 showers" after being with Rose, even after rapping that "my girl a superstar all from a home movie". Why didn't he need to take 30 showers when they were together? If she is a hoe, why was Kanye obsessed with being with her (someone would argue still obsessed but that tea is still brewing)? Not to mention that the stripper Yeezy is accusing Wiz of being trapped by is a woman Kanye has made songs, some surmise even whole albums, about.
But the fact that Kanye brought up Rose and Khalifa's kid ("You wouldn't have a child if it wasn't for me" and "You own waves??? I own your child!!!") is uncalled for. It's a weird statement on the surface (vaguely hinting that Wiz's son is his, but wouldn't that also reveal that Kanye was cheating on Kim with Amber Rose? Or it implies that Rose only had a baby with Wiz because she's wasn't with Kanye. But wouldn't that be Kanye openly pining for her? If neither, how do you own another man's child?), but it doesn't need much expounding on why someone's kid should be kept off limits. The perceived insult to his wife doesn't call for that type of escalation; you don't need to machine gun to swat a fly.
Kanye has openly expressed how becoming a father and a husband has made him a better, more loving person, so it's disheartening to see him continue to slut-shame a woman, a mother, who he was once in madly in love with. And now he's using Rose as a way to get back at an imagined slight from another man. This shows just how fragile masculinity can be.