Music and Sexism

Since last week, I have been turning the lyrics of the song “Freak of the Week” over in my mind. In the title of the song alone, the singer, Jeremiah, and the hip-hop duo, Krept & Konan, clearly express their sexism. As if the title wasn’t bad enough, throughout the song the three artists repeatedly refer to a woman as the “freak of the week,” and, in effect, reduce her to nothing more than a sexual object that is only good for banging for one week but is otherwise disposable. They also do not fail to remind listeners, over and over again, that all women are bitches, and that the only value in a woman is her “big batty” and “big titty.” They use a woman’s dance moves to justify grabbing her waist without her permission until she wants to have sex because, of course, she obviously wants sex from him and she was the one who “seem[ed] to show [him] what [he’s] feeling…got [her] body speaking to [him]” anyway. They assert their superiority, brushing off a woman’s lack of interest and the “nigga” that she came with because they want her to be their “bitch”. End of story. They doubt her truthfulness about having a boyfriend—once again, completing devaluing her own agency—because she is showing off a little skin. They are so certain that she wants it that regardless of what she actually says, they have already made up their mind that tonight they will see her “get naughty.” Although this is not Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” it might as well be.

The lyrics of this song certainly disturb me, but the overwhelming number of positive responses to this song in the YouTube comment section disturbs me more. Like the Facebook comments about the portrait of Michelle Obama baring her arms in a sleeveless dress, these responses reveal the misrecognition of women. The only difference is that the former situation is specific to black women, and the issue lies in the content of the comments. The issue in the latter lies in the absence of content in the comments. With few exceptions, the majority of people praised the song for its catchy beats while completely overlooking the actual song—the lyrics. The sparse criticisms that did arise were rooted in a distaste for British accents, how the song was promoting sexual sin, the artists’ lack of originality, the artists’ attire, and how hip hop has changed over the past few decades. To my surprise, scarcely any women spoke out in defense of our humanity. The few women who did speak out, however, were either silenced by men who outright told them to shut up or told them not to listen to the song if they did not like it, or—far more shocking—were silenced by a woman who agreed with male commenters.

My blood boils. This song has garnered nineteen million eight hundred twenty-two thousand and eight hundred four views and a mighty eighty-four thousand nine hundred sixty-five likes in less than a year of its release. My blood boils. I can’t help but to be angry when they toss around “nigga” as if my ancestors, their ancestors did not lose their lives in an effort to abolish the use of this word and the humiliation and shame that accompanies it. My blood boils when I cannot escape the insurmountable level of disrespect for women that pervades every inch, every nook and cranny of this song. My blood boils when, at the very least, I hoped that women would back one another in opposition of this song, but even women support it—a clear indication of the extent to which some women have internalized societal messages that deem them their bodies, minds, and feelings as inconsequential. My blood boils, and then my heart breaks.

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