Video below: (NSFW, some strong language)
I remember when I first heard this song; I was at a trendy pub with a few friends. We were unwinding from a stressful work week, having a few drinks together. This song has a catchy beat, and we were dancing at the bar, ‘’hip hopping’’ to the lyrics. I happen to like the genre ‘hip hop,’ but over the past decade, might it be a fair assessment to say that it’s digressed into little more than vulgar, sexist messages aimed mainly at women?
What’s worse is when I hear female singers degrading themselves and women in general, in their music, as well. Beyonce’s ‘’The Girl You Like,’’ comes to mind, the song’s theme being how a woman should morph into whatever ‘her man’ wishes. Many female singers of mainstream pop music, belt out lyrics that seem to drag women back decades, so have we really come a long way, baby?
Sexism is (still) very prevalent in various sectors of society, and not just against women. But, I thought it interesting that the actual definition of sexism is: prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination based on gender, primarily against women. So for the sake of this blog, we will focus on that precise definition, as it relates to modern day literature and pop music. (namely hip hop) For the record, I plan to discuss sexism as it stands against men, in a future blog.
Something to note, misogyny is different than sexism. I hear the term ‘misogynist’ bandied about in the media, or even in my own social circles, and it’s often misconstrued for sexism. Let me underscore this, because I found it fascinating when I first learned it from a friend of mine who is a psychologist. She conveyed, ‘’All misogynists are sexist, but not all sexists are misogynists.’’ Someone can be a garden variety sexist, without having contempt for all women. Misogynists have a disdain for all women, and it largely stems from their childhoods. Sexists can range in severity, but they are not as harmful to women as misogynists. My friend the psychologist explained that most misogynists treat women as rivals, competitors, and they have a very difficult time respecting them. They are often self-loathing, themselves. So, I thought it’s worth clarifying that sexism and misogyny, while similar, are not interchangeable terms.
Back to the Chris Brown song, ‘’Loyal.’’ Interesting to note, Chris Brown was in the news not too long ago, for physically assaulting his now ex-girlfriend. Rihanna. Isn’t it ironic that he would come out with a song that depicts women in such a negative light? Dubbing women as ‘’hoes,’’ and stereotyping them as cheaters and gold diggers, is blatantly sexist. But, I remember the night I heard the song for the very first time. It was fun to dance to, and the lyrics were nothing but a blur, after a martini or two. But, shortly thereafter, I decided to take a closer look at the song and was disheartened that radio stations play it with such enthusiastic frequency. So, that begs the question – why are these radio stations playing such malignantly sexist music for their audiences? Has society found new ways to subliminally indoctrinate young men (mainly who listen to hip hop) into discriminating against women?
The curious part of all of this is that the video is fun to watch; Chris Brown has been compared to Michael Jackson, in terms of his musical talent and effortless dance choreography. Add a few popular rappers into the mix, and you have a best seller. At the end of the day, it’s all about money, even if it means insulting and offending a portion of the population. I don’t mean to come across as an alarmist, but these lyrics and other songs whose themes are cut from the same cloth, are harmful to women. Insidiously, sexist and borderline misogynist messages are piping out of car stereos, and no one cares. How can we expect changes elsewhere in society as it relates to women’s rights issues, if we allow such degrading music to become the staple of modern pop?
Or is this considered free speech? I’m a vehement proponent of free speech, but not if it causes harm to the public, at large. This song causes harm, in a very cunning way, and not only to women.
This song is every bit as insulting to men, as it is to women. All men don’t view women in this unhealthy light nor do they subscribe to such offenses. ‘’Loyal’’ gives off the impression that women and men should seek to be adversaries, and that the only reason to associate with one another at all, is for sex.
I don’t blame songs such as this for the problems of today with respect to sexism and misogyny, but it just saddens me that we find insulting women to be …entertaining. Society finds it acceptable to stereotype women, and we wonder why these attitudes exist in the workplace.
In the grand scheme of the feminist movement, this pales in comparison to the issues that women are faced with every day. Rather, I liken it to a leaky faucet that a homeowner doesn’t bother to fix, until months later, the water is knee-deep, and he wonders why or how he didn’t notice the steady dripping of the faucet.
This song and others like it …are like that leaky faucet.