Well, you know, I been doing-doing-doing, but not at the speed of the internet. Responding to the gurgle of the world flow doesn’t always sit with baby-mothering and domestic scrubbing. However. I wrote this in response to some questions from a student about my thoughts on the Eso and Rihanna photo. So in the interests of getting things out there even though they’re not like really out there, and not really edited or anything, here’s thoughts:
Yes, hip hop has a history of rappers talking about violence against women. The early nineties gangsta genre in particular was part of what was really widely distributed around the globe, so the thug, gangsta MC stands out as a stereotypical masculine character of an African American man for many. Feminists, womanists (Black feminists) and others have critiqued this. Of course, like any stereotype, there are many exceptions, and it depends where you look: there have been vocal, strong female MCs who have ‘rapped back’ to men and added their insights and experiences, and encouraged other women to be independent financially, which is part of trying to break free of domestic violence. In Australia, you can find some examples of male MCs who have urged women to break out of domestic violence (TZU, The Tongue), and how much it upsets them, although this also can make the focus and the blame on women, rather than on the men who do it. The Tongue also wrote an opinion piece/response/‘open letter’ to Eso. Yeah, of course, not laughing at abuse it is “basic human decency”, but I’ll say it is “feminism”, ‘cos things aren’t basically-humanly-decent for women so: fuck yeah feminism.
So, yes, I am aware of Eso’s photo. My first thought was that he is incredibly stupid: of course this would blow up. My second was to wonder what Rihanna was thinking. Did she think it was funny? Next I felt embarrassed that this will be seen as a representation of Australian hip hop to an international/internet audience. Also, you could see it as a ploy by Eso to be controversial and get all of those extra hits. Hip hop (often called ‘conscious hip hop’) does have a history of exhorting it’s MCs to be role models, which often generally means to encourage others to live a life of positivity and to chase their dreams, often of being a performer rather than a drug dealer. So some of the response to whether Eso is a role model can fall along these lines. I also felt disappointed, which surprised me, because I didn’t realise I had higher expectations of Eso, but I must have. The classic thing about ‘it was just a joke’ degrades and trivialises those who don’t find it funny. Who finds it funny, and who doesn’t?
Urgh, here it is:
Clem Ford, of course, nailed it, and I’ll say it like this: privilege. It’s a privileged position to be sick of people not finding you funny. It’s a privileged position to decry the world as too politically correct. It’s a privileged position to want women to shut up. It’s a privileged position to want the world to get over Ferguson. Because you can. So why doesn’t everyone else? But, think about it: that’s the MO FO POINT.