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Feminist Current

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Feminist Current was founded by Meghan Murphy, a freelance writer and journalist who has been actively engaged in the feminist blogging community since 2010 and has been producing feminist radio since 2007. Meghan is from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, holds a Masters degree in Women's Studies from Simon Fraser University and is completing a graduate degree at the University of British Columbia's School of Journalism. You can find more of her writing in Ms. Magazine, Herizons Magazine, The Tyee, Megaphone Magazine, Good, and at rabble.ca.

Put your tits away, I'm trying to watch the show

| August 7, 2014
Put your tits away, I'm trying to watch the show

A couple of weeks ago I went to Pemberton Music Festival -- a music fest that takes place in a small village north of Whistler, in B.C. It was amazing and perfect in almost every way. Pemberton is overwhelmingly beautiful, even to someone like me, who grew up in B.C., surrounded by the kind of scenery most people only see on postcards. The lineup was fantastic. Watching Kendrick Lamar perform in front of a backdrop of spectacular mountains was mind-blowing. Chance the Rapper, Frank Ocean, and Outkast gave monumental performances. I have nary a critique for the whole festival. Except one thing:

I'm tired of the tits.

I am positive that this particular complaint will result in a number of people telling me I'm a prudish boob-hater, but in other breaking news, grass is green and rain is wet.

I have been going to hip hop shows since forever. Almost exclusively. So I'm pointing at hip hop here not because I think it's any more sexist than any other music genre -- because it is most certainly not -- but because my music fandom has been dedicated to hip hop for 20 years and these are the shows I'm at. And I am so tired of having to shut down parts of my brain in order to enjoy the music I love.

When you're at a show, watching your dreams come true in the form of Outkast, live and in the flesh, and your rap-heros complain, as Big Boi did, "I can't see no titties," it's jarring. And kind of hurtful, to be honest. I was up at the very front, pressed up against the railing, so I couldn't see how many women responded to the encouragement to flash their breasts, but it was impossible to miss it completely, thanks to the screens next to the stage, showing video of the crowd. Looking up to see the camera zoom in on a pair of fake breasts on the big screen takes you out of the moment, making you have to work to get back into it. It also serves as a helpful reminder that hip hop (and again, this could be extended to many other music genres -- hi, rock, punk, metal, reggae) is still for the boys. Women are welcome, of course, so long as they're shaking it for an audience.

During "She Lives in My Lap" the entire backdrop was filled with a video of a mostly-naked model, dancing, legs spread for much of the time. At the end of the song she takes off her underwear. If you ever needed a quick lesson in feminist film theory and a literal example of the "male gaze," that'd be it. Her naked, sexualized body was made into wallpaper.

Is it completely impossible for male performers to imagine that 1) their entire audience is not just dudes, and 2) YOUR SET WILL STILL BE DOPE EVEN WITHOUT NAKED LADIES?

There were many more moments of objectification throughout the show and preceding André's performance of "Hey Ya," he invited some women on stage to "shake it," specifically requesting those "not wearing any panties."

It's no surprise that naked breasts abounded during renowned (intentional) asshole and misogynist, Tyler the Creator's set (I did let out a lonely boo from the beer garden after "Bitch Suck Dick"), but no one goes to see Outkast for tits and sexism. They go because they love hip hop.

There are some groups that are known and popular because they objectify women. Outkast is not one of those groups. It's something that's completely unnecessary and, call me naive, but can't you just not? Can't you just choose not to objectify women? Can't you choose, during a festival where people are drunk and high and where there is a very real risk of sexual assault (because as much fun as these festivals are, women are victimized quite often...), not to contribute to an atmosphere where women are turned into part of the entertainment -- for men -- instead of equal and respected members of the audience? Can't we just be fans? Why do we have to perform?

I want to enjoy a show without being reminded that all my favorite rappers are sexist. I've spent almost 20 years trying to reconcile my hip hop fandom with my feminism and it never stops being a challenge. And it hurts! It hurts to constantly be reminded that the music you love so much is made by people who are too lazy and selfish to think about the impact this kind of imagery and attitude might have on you and their other female fans.

I'm not going looking to vilify Outkast and I'm not going to stop loving their music, but I want them to do better -- and I want other male artists to do better. Can you do us a favour and let us just watch the show?

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Comments

It's hip hop, which is just the new PC name for rap, which is a trick to get people to think it is fun music.   It's not, it is based in misogyny, all the videos with probably little except are that way.   

I'd rather sit down for lunch with an abolitionist that listen to hip hop, let alone watch one of it's videos.    it's disgusting. It's always been disgusting.  It is based in debasement.   

 

http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/792/the-influence-of-rap-and-hip-hop-music-an-analysis-on-audience-perceptions-of-misogynistic-lyrics

 

In other words, if i was a sensitive radfem music lover, I'd be more likely to show up to a Lilith fair, or country music fest, or as suggested heavy metal.

My suggestion would be to switch to thrash metal.  Of what you speak of there's almost zero emphasis, or at least, I've yet to encounter it.  Don't confuse it with glam metal though for god's sake.

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