being a mom

Bitch, Bad: When Rap Music Forces Us To Confront Misogyny

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I’m a mother of four kids, and a fan of hip hop and rap. I’m also white. I’m also middle-class. I say the above to illustrate where the points I’m about to make stem from in regard to Lupe Fiasco’s new video for Bitch, Bad. A young black man will have a different perspective on things than I do. An African American woman of my age will have a different perspective. I can only speak from my perspective, as a Caucasian, middle-aged woman who has a strong affinity for hip hop music. Yes, every genre of music is for everyone and just because I’m old, white and a chick doesn’t mean that I can’t like what I like, but when discussing the video for Bitch, Bad it can help to shed light on how I interpret it.  A few days ago, Chicago-born hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco released the first video from his upcoming CD release Food and Liquor Part Two. And basically broke the internets.

Brandon Soderberg, a blogger for Spin magazine, takes Lupe to task for “mansplaining” (A term used to describe men who condescendingly explain about something that mostly concerns women) the word “bitch”, its cultural, sexual, and historical context in popular culture in Fiasco’s video.

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 Like Todd Akin’s ridiculous and insulting statements regarding women and their magical uteruses and how women can shut down pregnancies that are a product of rape, Fiasco has thrown the word “bitch” out there and it’s been interesting to see what the internet and media does with it.

A lot of women have reclaimed the word “bitch.” We use it to describe ourselves, our friends, we read a magazine entitled with the word. And even though it at times has come to mean a woman who is strong and smart and unafraid to speak her mind, it also, at times, is still used as an incredibly derogatory insult directed at women who are strong, smart and unafraid to speak their minds. Bitch can be synonomous with queen or synonomouys with skank. And Lupe Fiasco is challenging us to take a harder look at the word.

In the video, Fiasco illustrates a young boy of about four or five with his mother, a woman singing along with the radio about being a “bad bitch” and he raps:

 Couple of things that are happenin’ here

First he’s relatin’ the word “bitch” with his mama, comma

And because she’s relatin’ to herself, his most important source of help,

And mental health, he may skew respect for dishonor

Verse two then goes on to illustrate a group of young girls watching music videos on the internet :

 Yeah, now imagine a group of little girls nine through twelve

On the internet watchin’ videos listenin’ to songs by themselves

It doesn’t really matter if they have parental clearance

They understand the internet better than their parents

Now being the interent, the content’s probably uncensored

They’re young, so they’re maleable and probably unmentored

A complicated combination, maybe with no relevance

Until that intelligence meets their favorite singer’s preference

“Bad bitches, bad bitches, bad bitches

That’s all I want and all I like in life is bad bitches, bad bitches”

Now let’s say that they less concerned with him

And more with the video girl acquiescent to his whims

Ah, the plot thickens

High heels, long hair, fat booty, slim

Reality check, I’m not trippin’

They don’t see a paid actress, just what makes a bad bitch

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