being a mom
Bitch, Bad: When Rap Music Forces Us To Confront Misogyny
What I interpret thus far, from the views of a middle aged white woman, is that Fiasco is saying that young boys grow up with their moms, strong, nurturing, caring, who relate to themselves as a “bitch.” In a positive sense. In the meantime, young girls are watching videos by rap artists spitting the word bitch, and this term is directed at attractive girls who are eager and willing to do anything a young man wants. And the young girls don’t see these women as paid actresses, they view them as sexy high-heeled scantily dressed women having a good time trying to snag a man, please a man, genuflect to a man.
And then onto verse three, which sort of confuses the issue, but doesn’t really detract from the conversation Fiasco is trying to invoke:
Disclaimer: This rhymer, Lupe’s not usin’ bitch as a lesson
But as a psychological weapon
To set in your mind and really mess with your conceptions
Discretions, reflections, it’s clever misdirection
Cause, while I was rappin’ they was growin’ up fast
Nobody stepped in to ever slow ‘em up, gasp
Sure enough, in this little world
The little boy meets one of those little girls
And he thinks she a bad bitch and she thinks she a bad bitch
He thinks disrespectfully, she thinks of that sexually
She got the wrong idea, he don’t wanna fuck her
He thinks she’s bad at being a bitch like his mother
This can sort of be summed up as slut-shaming by proxy. Fiasco is juxtaposing his idea of a bad bitch, a strong, smart woman, with that of a young girl raised on a diet of misogynistic music videos and trying to emulate the girls portrayed in the videos. For me, analyzing aspects of the song too much detracts from the brilliant conversation the gist of it raises.
The hook of the song is:
Bitch bad, woman good
Lady better, they misunderstood
(I’m killin’ these bitches)
Which to me just means that Fiasco is giving us alternatives to the word, by “killing these bitches” he is stating that the word has so many connotations, both positive and negative, that maybe it isn’t the best word to describe a woman at all.
I like the song. My 16-year-old son, a huge fan of Fiasco’s, purchased the song and is eagerly awaiting the full-cd release. As a mother of a kid who is a fan of Fiasco’s music, I applaud him (loudly) for creating such an interesting dialogue that I can share with my kid. I can’t think of any other mainstream young male rappers who are challenging us to look at the word and what it means to us and our kids when they are exposed to the word on a sometimes continuous basis. It’s a great conversation to have, especially when you are trying to raise boys in this world who will grow up to be men that we want to respect women, and I think any mother, regardless of race, wants this for her son.
So for blog critics like Brandon Soderberg, and his accusations of mansplaining, a lot of women don’t mind men speaking up about misogyny, especially when so many men don’t. Fiasco has challenged us to take a look at the politics of word choice, and even though it’s far too easy to convolute his song and get wrapped up in whether or not he has a right to speak for women and what we want to be referred as, it’s a far more interesting conversation that Fiasco has presented to us. One that I will be discussing with my son when this song comes on the stereo.
(Photo: Entertainment Weekly)