One night, I decided to sit down, relax and watch a little Apple TV. So I cruised the gazillion channel options and landed on the History Channel. These were the TV show options I faced:
The above options, (Mankind, The Men Who Built America, Mississippi Men, Monument Guys, Mountain Men, No Man’s Land, Noreaster Men) were only a smattering of my choices. Don’t worry, there was also, Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy, Rivermen, The Woodsmen, The Great Satini Brothers and Axmen, among similar others, to choose from. Who can tell me what’s missing from these TV show choices? Yes, you in the back. Women. Yes, women are missing.
Out of the entire 84 TV show choices available to choose from, only one seemed to have anything to do with a woman: Bonnie & Clyde. That’s it. The rest were staggeringly lacking in a key ingredient to humankind: Women. Oh, and there was one small History Special about the sex lives of “our nation’s leaders” and how said sex lives changed America. So there were probably some sexual female bodies in that show, draped across men who did stuff. Great.
I’ve watched many other TV shows from the History Channel, ( including the entire series called Mankind: The Story of All of Us) and this trend of the near-nonexistence of women appears to be nothing new. Mankind: The Story of All of Us is intended to be a show about all of humankind. But, in the entire series, it is rare to see a female face or even hear the mention of a female figure in history.
According to the History Channel, women have done nothing of value to contribute to society and we have nothing to see. This is the message they are sending to the general public, whether it was their intention or not. I guess, after all, it is called his-story…
Let’s get some herstory up in here. Better yet, some heristory.
By now we pretty much all know about how women make 77-78 cents to every dollar men make, for equal work. That’s a big problem.
This video puts the issue in a funny light.
Speaking of hip-hop that raises women up, I give you, Ana Tijoux.
Her music holds a place in my heart for several reasons. Her lyrics, her subjects, her beats and her unique voice. But also, I’m enamored with how I first came to know about her music. In 2010, I was living and studying in Chile and I was talking to a friend of mine about how it’s a bummer there is a shortage of women rappers out there. And he said,
“Oh you haven’t heard of Ana Tijoux yet have you?”
He also introduced me to her earlier stuff when she was a part of the great hip-hop crew, Makiza. But my favorite song of hers remains this one:
(You might even recognize this song from an episode of Breaking Bad where the track gained a lot of fame.)
Another reason I especially love her music is because of this engaging experience. When I taught in Rwanda, I introduced the students to Ana Tijoux’s song “1977” and they loved it. The French speakers especially caught onto the Spanish and it ignited a further interest in the language and an interest in women as rappers. When exams came around, I posted this picture of Ana Tijoux that says: ‘Ana Tijoux says, ‘Buena Suerte con el resto de sus exámenes!‘” Which means, “Good luck with the rest of your exams!”
And the students posted this paper next to it as though it were Facebook. Haha, so sweet.
One of Tijoux’s latest songs, titled “Antipatriarca” has especially empowering lyrics:
“…Tu no me vas denigrar, tu no me vas obligar” (You’re not going to denigrate me, you’re not going to force me)
Tu no me vas a silenciar tu no me vas a callar (You’re not going to silence me, you’re not going to shut me up)
No sumisa ni obediente ( I’m neither submissive or obedient)
Mujer fuerte insurgente (insurgent, strong woman)
Independiente y valiente (independent and valiant)
Romper las cadenas de lo indiferente (break the chains of indifference)
No pasiva ni oprimida (Neither passive nor oppressed)
Mujer linda que das vida (beautiful woman who gives life)
Emancipada en autonomía (emancipated and independent)
And this song is just plain badass:
It’s not always easy to find songs that are outwardly good to women, but they’re out there and they exist in underground hip-hop. Mainstream music may be all about degrading women to turn a profit, but some underground rap does the opposite: It raises women up, while throwing down some good beats. Check out what The Coup, 2Pac and Zion I & The Grouch have to say in these three songs.
Wear Clean Draws by The Coup (2001)
The Coup not only has a badass female DJ, but they also have a song that is addressed to one of the rappers daughters. The song starts out like this:
“Go on draw them superheroes with the curly hair
You’re my daughter
More than kin to me
This for you and the woman that you finna be
Tell that boy he’s wrong
Girls are strong…
If somebody hits you
Hit ’em back
Then negotiate a peace contract
Life if a challenge and you gotta team up
If you play house pretend that the man clean up
You too busy with the other things you gotta do…”
As the song continues, the DJ, Pam the Funkstress, throws down some scratching.
Keep Ya Head Up by 2Pac (1998)
Of course, this classic song by Tupac:
“I give a holla to my sisters on welfare
2Pac cares, if don’t nobody else care…”
He goes on to rap about how men often leave women to mother a child alone. As the song progresses he gets very literal:
“…And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women
I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, b real to our women…”
Make You Fly by Zion I & The Grouch (2006)
The Chorus, sung by Esthero, starts out like this:
“I am the virgin, I’m the whore
So you won’t push a brother, don’t leave
I am the goddess, I’m the sky
I give you room to make you fly
So why, why
Don’t you recognize me anymore?”
And then Zion I starts rapping:
“An open letter to you sister
Mother, wife, and girlfriend
Hope to make it better before we reach the world’s end
Spin, through centuries of hypocrisy when
Patriarchy subjugated your biology, ya
Divine feminine was always kept hidden
You know I love my mama, called you freak ’cause I was trippin
Take you for granted, man, I’ve often been the culprit
But I’m crypted when I stand like a preacher in this pulpit
Sex symbols like all imitation
A trophy, not a wife but you’re the queen of creation
More than a beauty but it’s harder to see
We told to never cry, hoes down, up G’s, but
You gave birth to me, sacred like the Earth to me
Blessed, never cursin’ me, your love is what these verses be…”
Then Grouch raps, saying:
“Women: you’re the ones who are real strong
And I don’t feel good how we treat you on a hill wrong
Feel lungs breathe (breathe )
She’s the equal I need…”
The sheep that stand up for rappers like Eminem and the actions of Chris Brown will keep funneling the money into misogynist rap. But thankfully, being a good rapper is not equated with being a misogynist. The Coup, Tupac, Zion I and The Grouch show what it means to be a truly good rapper.
(Lyrics found at Genius.com Lyricsmania.com)
Follow up: After reading about Patricia Arquette’s not so great comment backstage after her speech, I want to make sure to add this follow up. Yes. She should have said things differently towards the end and the comment created a lot of understandable outrage.
She did have a great speech on stage that reached a huge audience and i don’t think we can disregard that part. I hope all the discussion on the internet about Arquette’s backstage words will bring us all closer together to fight injustice through intersectional and inclusive feminism.
Maisha Z. Johnson, Social Media Associate at Everyday Feminism and apprentice editor at Black Girl Dangerous wrote a fantastic summary of the situation and about the reactions to the positives and negatives of Arquette’s words. The article is definitely worth a read. Check it out. It’s titled “Patricia Arquette’s Heart Is In the Right Place and We Still Need To Call Her In”
“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” she announced. “It is our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”
Check out more about it here.
“Show me a body part, I’ll show you someone who’s making money by telling women that theirs looks wrong and they need to fix it. Tone it, work it out, tan it, bleach it, tattoo it, lipo it, remove all the hair, lose every bit of jiggle…Girls’ and women’s lives matter. Their safety and health and their rights matter. Whether every inch of them looks like a magazine cover? That, my sisters, does not matter at all.”
Check out her full article here, titled “Great! Another Thing to Hate About Ourselves
From Sports Illustrated, the Latest Body Part for Women to Fix”
More wise words on the topic:
“Usually, people blame the media, models and Hollywood for portraying an unrealistic body image and making us feel inferior. Yes, that’s true but the other sad truth is that we judge each other harshly everyday…We’re quick to point out if a girl’s arms are ‘too flabby’ for that sleeveless dress or her hair is a mess, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating being unhealthy and unkempt, but fitness and beauty come in all shapes and sizes.” –Whitney from Sportyafros.com
Check out her full article here, titled “Pretty Hurts: Body Image Issues in the Black Community”
A summary of progress and regression for women’s rights in 2014. This video is a great tool to see the bigger picture. We can relish in the accomplishments made in 2014 as well as acknowledge the drawbacks so that we can raise consciousness in society and can hopefully have an exponentially better year in 2015.
Have you ever turned your shampoo bottle around and looked at the ingredients? Looks like chemical gibberish right? Well, that chemical gibberish has a damaging affect on our bodily health and planetary well-being. Pervasive ingredients in cosmetics, shaving cream, shampoos, conditioners and countless other products contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer and reproductive damage. Of course, all of us already know this right? Here’s to hoping our products will be toxic free in the near future.
Check out Women’s Voices for the Earth to view their non-toxic shopping guides http://www.womensvoices.org
If you know anything about Eminem, the headline to this article does not surprise you. But how long do we have to put up with his horrific, violently-misogynistic lyrics?
He recently rapped about raping Iggy Azalea, the record setter for longest run on the Hot 100 for a female rapper.
“Put that shit away Iggy. You don’t wanna blow that rape whistle on me / Scream! I love it. ‘Fore I get lost with the gettin’ off,'”
Iggy Azalea had a great response and put him in his place by calling him out on his grotesqueness and even took it a step further by also calling out society for its idolization of misogynistic attitudes.
It’s deplorable how Eminem has gotten away with promoting and glorifying misogyny and violence towards women in his songs over the years.
He recently threatened Lana Del Ray in a song by saying he would punch her in the face twice like Ray Rice abused his girlfriend.
And, of course, who could forget that famous song in which he talks about murdering his wife, Kim, and takes the listener, step by step, through the process of disposing of her body. Are you kidding me? I’m ashamed to admit I even listened to that song when I was younger. At the time, I was horrified but, after a while, came to accept it. Isn’t that terrifying? That is just proof how pervasive this kind of shit is: it gets under our skin as a people and manifests in real, and scary ways. Rape Culture anyone?
In a song with Redman, Eminem threatened Christina Aguillera by saying:
“Causin’ terror to Christina Aguilera / When I grab her by the hair and drag her across the Sahara.”
Not only does he promote misogyny to the extreme, his lyrics seek to bring empowered women like Iggy Azalea and Christina Agulairra down and take away their status as important musicians.
Another ‘gem’ of a lyric from Eminem is one in which he attacked every woman who menstruates by saying:
“Put Anthrax on a Tampax and slap you till you can’t stand.”
We’re talking about a rapper who has 97 million followers on Facebook, just to give you and idea of how many people are listening to him and taking his ideas into consideration. And he is just one of the many rappers and lyricists who have lyrics that promote intolerance toward all things female. Eminem is a serious glorifier of misogyny and we should not take it anymore.
Barnes, Tom. “Eminem Just Rapped About Raping Iggy Azalea — And She Responded in the Best Way Possible.” Mic.com. Nov 20, 2014. Web, Nov 22 2014. http://mic.com/articles/104722/eminem-just-rapped-about-raping-iggy-azalea-and-she-responded-in-the-best-way-possible?utm_source=nar.al&utm_medium=urlshortener&utm_campaign=FB