I’ve always enjoyed the rhythm of rap. The cool, suave choruses of soulful voices and the soothing, sure staccatos at the tip of the artist’s tongue. Rap has spoken to me in a way that no other music has, that no other music could. I’ve grown with each evocative and often times provocative word, and in a way rap has grown with me. I’ve always enjoyed rap.
Rap consumes a large part of my identity, as much as my culture, my family, and even… Feminism.
Rap and feminism aren’t two word that are usually uttered in the same breath unless it’s somewhere along the lines of:
“How could you arbitrarily listen to such misogynistic music as a feminist?”
A question that my father has asked me many, many times, questioning my beliefs and trying to poke holes in my stance as many adults do, because how could such immature adolescents possibly have a concrete position on adult-like issues. They can’t possibly know what they’re talking about, but of course, that’s beside the point. To my father, mainstream rap is composed of frequent facilitators of women ignominy, so I must be a facilitator by default.
I was taken aback naturally. Was I a hypocrite for listening to music that is a product of the patriarchal society? Does rap invalidate my feminism? Should I exclusively listen to feminist music?
While I do enjoy the occasional mellow drawl of girl pool, feminist music is, while ever growing, limited, and nothing in my case could compare to rap. Not to say that there are no feminist rap artists, Nicki Minaj and Lauryn Hill enthusiasts would shrill at that assumption but like I said, it’s limited.
Of course men calling into question what I, as a feminist, can and can’t listen to draws back to mansplaining, defined as “explaining something to someone, typically a man to a woman, in a manner that is regarded as condescending or patronizing.” But this argument like many other arguments isn’t clear cut, there is no black and white, only a gray murky area of uncertainties. I from a young age have been conditioned to like rap music, just as other girls are conditioned to be inclined to enjoy traditionally feminine practices. To ask one to abandon something they have been bred into, is almost impossible.
And to my dad, obviously I do not enjoy hearing women being degraded and painted to be objects of sexual gratification. Every cringe-worthy “bitch” that is spat out causes me to repent on behalf of my contrite conscience.
I’ve gone through the logistics of this argument over and over again through my head, desperately searching for a loophole that would free me from being condemned as a hypocrite, but I’ve still not found the answer, and perhaps I never will.
But as my english teacher once told me reassuringly, quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
Perhaps we all must analyze the paradoxes in our lives, and acknowledge that not all can be justified. Still, we must continue to live or better yet “function”.