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Is Music By Female Performers Filled With Just As Much Man-Hating As Hip-Hop Is Filled With Misogyny?
Damon Young of Very Smart Brothas has done a piece for Complex magazine’s website on the art of the male response song, particularly the many (and I do mean many) responses to Nicki Minaj’s “Lookin’ Ass Ni**a,” and how it all exudes extreme “butthurtness” as he calls it. Damon Young also writes that all the responses are redundant and comical, considering how those in hip-hop address women in their music.
Of course, the comment section is full of folks who weren’t trying to hear that “respect women” bull crap. As one commenter noted:
“I’m also very suspicious of men like you who (rightly) point out instances of misogyny in rap, while at the same time, try to excuse, or turn a blind eye to the slew of misandric/ female supremacist material filling the catalogues of artists like Beyonce & Taylor Swift.”
I have heard this reasoning before: Female singers and rappers have as many man-hating songs as rappers have their woman-hating hits. But is it true? A casual listen to the radio would say, hell no! But in the name of pseudo-science, I decided to find out if songs performed by women in music were equally “misandrist.” The answers will surprise you – but likely not.
For this research, I decided to focus on the two “urban” radio stations here in Philadelphia. WUSL, better known to listeners as “POWER 99FM,” is owned by Clear Channel Communications. As evident by its signature, “Bangin’ Hip Hop and R&B,” Power 99 caters to those who listen to hip-hop as well as those who listen to R&B music. And according to the station’s marketing material, its audience is 54 percent women and 44 percent men. Therefore, if I were to find misandrist music anywhere, it would likely be on a station, which appeals largely to women.
The other station is WPHI, which is known locally as Hot 107.9 FM. Like POWER 99FM, WPHI is known as an urban station. Although demographics on the station were hard to come by in the short amount of time I allotted for this study, judging by the similar musical format, I assumed that its audience is also reflective of that of 99FM – with slight variations.
Since radio today tends to be repetitious (which might have something to do with the fact that only six companies control 90 percent of mainstream media), I limited my research time to two hours. To be specific, I listened to 99FM on Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. The playlist was as followed: YG, “My Hitta (My N-Word) Remix”; “NaNa” by Trey Songz; Drake feat. 2 Chainz and Big Sean, “All Me”; Young Thug, “Stoner”; Kid Ink feat. Chris Brown, “Show Me”; T-Pain feat. BoB, “Up Down”; Rick Ross feat. Jay Z, “The Devil is a Lie”; Rich Homie Quan, “Type of Way”; Miguel, “Adorn”; “All of Me” by John Legend; “Que” by OG Bobby Johnson; ScHoolboy Q, “Man of the Year”; Rico Love feat. Trey Songz, TI and Tiara Thomas, “They Don’t Know”; Beyoncé, feat. Jay Z, “Drunk in Love”; Mack Wilds, “Henny”; and finally, Sage the Gemini, “Gas Pedal.”
What struck me the most was in spite of 99FM’s listening audience being slightly more female, its playlist for those two hours was heavily dependent on male-performed content. Because of that, I decided to tune in again on Sunday, from 11 to 1 p.m. The only other differences were old school songs Like DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win” as well as the following: Mack Wilds, “Own It”; Beyoncé feat. Jay Z, “Part II (On the Run)”; Wale feat. NickiMinaj, “Clappers”; Chris Brown, “Loyal”; and French Montana, “Ain’t Worried About Nothin’.”
On 107.9FM, which I tuned in to from 9 to 11 a.m. on Sunday, there was more of a gender balance in the playlist, but only slightly: Rico Love, “They Don’t Know”; Beyoncé, “Yoncé/Partition”; Janelle Monae, “Primetime”; Tamar Braxton, “All the Way Home”; Aaliyah, “Try Again” (throwback classic); Beyoncé feat. Jay Z, ”Part II (On The Run)”; “Happy” by Pharrell; Ariana Grande feat. Mac Miller, “The Way”; Kid Ink feat. Chris Brown, “Show Me”; Beyoncé feat. Jay Z, ”Drunk in Love”; Sevyn Streeter feat. Chris Brown, “It Won’t Stop”; Rick Ross, “Sanctified”; August Alsina feat. Chris Brown and Trey Songz, “I Luv This S**t”; John Legend, “All of Me”; Bruno Mars, “When I was Your Man”; Jay Z feat. Rick Ross, “F**kWithMeYouKnowIGotIt”; Jhene Aiko, “The Worst.”
In total, I heard 32 unique songs in a span of six radio hours. Despite the gender imbalance of both playlists, quick research showed that the playlists were more aligned with the national top 20 lists for popular urban music. Therefore, this was as good as it was going to get. In terms of misogyny, here are some of my observations as followed:
- Nineteen out of the 23 unique male-performed songs referred to women as either b**ches or hos or a combination of both.
- At least 10 of the male-performed songs had direct themes revolving around using money as economic power over women, particularly using it to lure a woman home or entice them to shake body parts. “Gas Pedal” gives you that much in the title without even having to cite a single lyric. Equally as direct was T-Pain, who reminds us that “she don’t even like girls but a stack will make her kiss her.” However, Trey Songz was a little more smooth in how he financially finessed himself closer to the “NaNa.”
- At least half of the male-performed songs were keen on establishing boundaries for women, and usually of lesser importance, even when the song itself had little to do with male-female relationships. For example, Chris Brown tells us directly about how he “done did everything but trust these hos” in “Loyal.” However, Young Thug, who focuses most of his lyrics in “Stoner” on his drug use, takes a bar or two to make clear that you can “can suck my banana, but I won’t eat your pudding.”
- At least 12 of the male-centered songs contained lyrics, which treated women as possessions, in particular, collectible items. For example, in “Devil Is A Lie”, Rick Ross brags about “switching old b**ches for new b**ches” and more. Whereas ScHoolboy Q couldn’t see women outside of disembodied body parts (“Titty, a**, hands in the air, it’s a party over here”) in “Man of the Year.”
- While not necessarily misogynistic, at least 10 of the male-centered songs had lyrics, which focused on non-committal relationships with the opposite sex. In “They Don’t Know,” Rico Love tells us about the very special yet secret relationship he has with a side jawn, who he is willing to wine and dine, just as long as she keeps her mouth shut.
- Only five of the male performed songs featured lyrics that were non-authoritative, combative and expressed healthier sentiment with the opposite sex. The majority of those songs were R&B, including Miguel’s “Adorn” and John Legend’s “All of Me” – or duets performed with a female performer. Even when the topic was about heartbreak, male-centered R&B songs were more likely to engage in self-reflection compared to their rap counterparts. The unique exceptions to that included R&B singer Chris Brown, who blames the cheating girls he willingly has relationships with in “Loyal” for his trust issues and rapper Big Sean, who seems willing to own up (slightly) to his paranoia in “All Me” with the following lines: “Like I got trust issues, I’m sorry for the people I’ve pushed out. I’m the type to have a bullet-proof condom and still gotta pull out. But that’s just me, and I ain’t perfect, I ain’t a saint but I am worth it…”
So the misogyny is well-documented, but what about the misandry? Well, according to my observations:
- Out of the nine female-performed songs on the radio, I found two examples, which could possibly be interpretative of misandry: the first is in Jhene Aiko’s “The Worst,” when she says of her deceiving significant other, “Please don’t take this personal, but you ain’t sh**t…” The second is Nicki Minaj’s verse on “Clappers” when she says,“Where your money? Let a b***h evaluate. If you ’bout big money, elaborate.” However, Minaj’s lyrics on “Clappers” seemed to be aligned with misogyny more than man-hating in that particular song.
- The vast majority (eight in total) of female-performed songs involved themes of love: how to get it and how to keep it. In “Drunk in Love,” Beyoncé told us sordid tales of all-night sex and drinking babies (as she also did in “Yoncé/Partition”). Tamar Braxton is so in love in her song she thinks about her man on her drive all the way home. Ariana Grande’s track was about being in love, as was Sevyn Streeter’s.
- All of the female-performed songs were more likely to focus on keeping and maintaining relationships with the opposite sex as opposed to their male-performing counterparts, whose songs were on varied topics (note: I included Janelle Monae in that number because “Primetime” was a duet with Miguel).
Again, this is not to sit in judgment of the artists and their individual songs, but rather, to smack down the silly notion that female-performed contemporary music is filled with just as much misandry as hip hop is filled with misogynistic lyrics. The most interesting side note to this experiment is that if you take the female-performed songs and put them between the male-centered songs, you get an interesting mix of mostly men saying, don’t trust these girls – unless you can pay them to dance and have sex with them – while female performers are begging these guys, who don’t seem to care about them at all, to stay. I guess it is true what Beyoncé says, “who wants that perfect love anyway – cliché, cliché…”
Nia: What makes a man want to marry? I’ve been with my guy for 17 years got the ring but no I do.
DY: A man wants to marry when he finds someone he wants to marry. Basically, if you’ve been with him 17 years, and he hasn’t married you yet, he just doesn’t want to marry you. I didn’t mean for that to come out so blunt, but there’s really no other way to put it.
Mesha: Why do men follow their penis and not their heart?
DY: (Some) Men do that because they value the temporary pleasure from making their penises happy more than the long-term (but riskier) pleasure of heart happiness.
And, of course, there are also many men who value both equally.
Precious: Should a woman divorce her husband if he has not been providing financially? Job hopping.
DY: Depends on why he hasn’t been providing. Getting laid off in a tough economy — which is understandable — is different than being lazy/unemployable.
Deanna: Any advice on how to approach the subject of children? I don’t want any and I’m not sure how long I should wait (if at all) before I tell a guy I’m dating.
DY: You don’t have to divulge those details while initially dating. But, if it’s at the point where it may have the potential to turn into something long-term, it’s time to share that.
Tia: How do I get a guy’s attention that I like?
DY: Say “Hi. My name is Tia. What’s yours?” Or get naked and show up at his job. One of the two should work.
Lauren: Why are guys so fearful of committing to an awesome woman?
DY: “Awesome” is a relative term. Your “awesome” may not be his “awesome.”
Tabitha: My issue is that a strong independent black woman I find that I intimidate a lot of men. I don’t intentionally try to do it but it just seems that is how I come across. It’s true I don’t need a man, but I do want a companion. I’ve tried toning down my assertiveness but then I don’t feel true to myself. Damon, what advice can you offer me?
DY: Many of the women who make sure to refer to themselves as “independent” and “strong” women who “don’t need a man” also tend to be somewhat obnoxious. Not saying this is you, but if it is you, you don’t have to keep reminding everyone of how strong you are. Take off the “I’m independent!!!!” t-shirt and start rocking your “I’m Tabitha!!!” t-shirt instead.
Another week, another relationship question and answer session with Damon Young. There were some interesting questions this week that really illustrate the difficulties–or the perceived difficulties–women have with dating and relationships. Take a look at the selected questions below and let us know if you agree with Damon’s advice.
I’ve been in a really bad relationship for 12 years with my husband. He cheated on me about a year ago and we separated because of it. Fast forward to 3 months ago. I have been having crushes on guys and I can’t say anything to them because I’m still miserably married. Some of these guys don’t even know that I’m interested in them. They all know that I’m married. Please help, what should I do?
Dear Constipated Crush,
Of the many latent themes present throughout the fifth season of “The Wire” — aka “the best American piece of art ever made” — the one that I’ve found the most applicable to my own life is the concept of “fresh eyes.” Sometimes you can get so bogged down in a situation or circumstance, that it’s hard for you to make good assessments, and you need to bring someone else to help you. Basically, you need “fresh eyes.”
For instance, a few months ago my car was acting strange. Making weird noises, riding awkwardly, and just not handling the way I was use to. First, I thought it was my engine. Then the brakes. Then the shocks. I couldn’t figure out what it was, so I made an appointment to see a mechanic. The day before the appointment, I drove to my parent’s house. My dad happened to be on the porch. The first thing he said to me when I greeted him? “Son, you need some new tires.”
He was right. And, not only did I need new tires, the tires were what was causing my car trouble. It seemed like an easy/obvious solution, but I was so focused on the engine and the brakes and the shocks that I couldn’t see the answer.
Anyway, I’m bringing this up because I remind myself of this when getting letters like yours. To me, the solution to your dilemma is obvious. But, because you’re invested in the situation, I can understand why the answer may not be as obvious to you.
You need to get a divorce. Immediately. You’ve been in an unhappy relationship for over a decade. And now it’s time to end it. Your tires are bald, and you need to throw them away and get some new ones if you ever want to be able to move on.
Pittsburgh native Damon Young (aka “The Champ”) is the co-founder of the ridiculously popular VerySmartBrothas.com. Their first book “Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide To Dating, Mating and Fighting Crime” is available at Amazon.com.
Kandace: Well I have a question when a man completely goes outside in his car for 2 hours and then I catch him and he says that he just came back from the store and I know that’s a lie do you think he’s talking to another female.
And just because this person’s response was too funny:
Sierra: ^^wtf YES or he beating his meat which is still rather weird
DY: Maybe. And maybe he just wants to get away while you watch Scandal.
Shelle: When dealing with a younger man, what are some things you should never bring up? I’m 37 my fiance’ is 25.
DY: You should be able to bring up anything. What’s the point of marrying someone if you have off limits topics with them?
I have been in a relationship for 4 years. We have a 1 year old and I have 2 other children from a previous relationship. He is awesome. He pays all the bills and rent, shopping money, trips for our family, he loves me and the kids like no one ever has. He bought me a house for Valentine’s Day last year in a really nice community…but another woman lives in his other house in LA… Should I give him more time to get rid of her or leave him now?
Not Satisfied with the Sugar Daddy
I have asked and expressed to her that we can’t be friends right now if she is entertaining other men. ie; texting, talking on the phone, going out on dates etc. I asked her if she was doing so and she says NO. She said she’s not doing ANY of the above. I know people. Sometimes we have platonic friends who need someone to talk to about our issues etc. I do, and I tell her. She even knows the names of the women I talk to. These are women/sisters/close female friends of mine over 15yrs+. So there is no need for me to be secretive about it with her. I ask her if she has male friends she talks to and still says no. But I know differently. She DOES have a male friend who she talks to but won’t be honest with me about it. Which makes me even more curious.
However, I have been able to gain access to her phone/text logs. I noticed a new number over the last two months. But what really alarmed me is that over the last 8 days they both initiated texts between each other. They’ve texted each other over 175 times in the last 8 days. And still continue to text back and forth, but without actually talking on the phone. I’ve called the guy and asked who he was and of course, he wouldn’t say. I’ve repeatedly asked my girlfriend if she’s talking or TEXTING anyone and she says no. She also says that if she’s interested in anyone else she wouldn’t be dealing ME. But they still communicate daily. I can’t figure out who this person is, and she’s claiming she’s not talking to anyone else. What do I do? Why would a woman only talk to a man via text so much and not the phone? They text as much as she and I speak on the phone. And we talk about 2-3hrs a day. It sucks because I can’t tell her I’ve seen her call log. I can’t even use the excuse that I saw it on her cell phone. There is no way I can bring up the number. I just want the truth.
Vanessa: Who should bring up marriage first the man or woman?
DY: Don’t worry about “firsts” once you’re actually in a relationship. Keeping score of stuff is for dating. If you feel like talking about marriage, talk about marriage.
Rochelle: if someone were having an affair for 12 years and now both parties are now divorced what are your thoughts of a true relationship happening now……..generally and from a guys point too
DY: 12 years is a mighty long time to have an affair. If they were seeing each other for that long, and still stayed married to their spouses, I’m not so sure if they actually want to be together that badly.
Jasmine: I just met this guy no more than maybe 2 months ago and we met only for a brief moment but I live in Texas and he lives in Alabama. What can I do to keep– how shall I say this– to keep me and him in a position where we want to be more than just friends. I will be moving back home within a few months, how do I know he will still be there waiting on me? Am I being clingy if I want to talk to him everyday? One more question am i rushing it if I tell him that I feel as if me and him meeting is like love at first sight. A little insight about him he’s in the army, he goes to school, and he’s a pretty good down to earth guy .
DY: When first meeting someone that makes you smile, its easy to get carried away. And I think that has the potential to happen with you. My advice? Relax. Talk on the phone with each other. Take things slow. And, mostly importantly, let him reciprocate interest.
Janet: Why do guys breath smell so bad?
DY: Because we’re always kissing y’all
Arielle: Do you think that a 22 year female dating a 43 year old male is too big of an age gap to work?
DY: There are exceptions to every rule, and, who knows? You two might be the exception. But, let me say this. If my 22 year old brother told me he was dating a 43 year old woman, a red flag would go up. And, if my 22 year old sister told me she was dating a 43 year old man, an even redder flag would go up. 22 and 43 is just too big of an age and experience gap.
Erica Why don’t most men show their emotions? Why do they not want to talk about marriage, goals, children, only just sex? Everything is I’m not ready.
DY: Cause that’s all some men care about. Also–and this must be said—many men have been socialized to not show emotions and not want to “talk things out” for fear of being seen as “weak” or “soft.” If you’re dating a man who seems to feel that way, you have to let him know that its safe for him to open up around you.
Megan: I’ve been in a relationship going on four years now. My boyfriend has not proposed. Every time I bring it up he says let him be the man and stop trying to be in control. Ive given myself until the end of this year before I walk away. We have a great relationship but Im tired of waiting. Am I wrong?
DY: No, you’re not. You want to be married, and he hasn’t shown that he wants to marry you. So, you need to be with someone who does.
Angela: As a man, Have u ever said hurtful things, things u regretted later to a woman you were dating seriously?? If so, how did u get back on her good side. Verbal abuse vs. Just some thing u said out if anger
DY: Yes, I have. I apologized and let her know it wouldn’t happen again. And (most importantly) I didn’t let it happen again.
I have an anonymous question: why is it my boyfriend thinks it’s cool to interact with his female friends on Facebook, and even make suggestive comments on some of their pictures/like them. But, if one of my male friends so much as says “hi” on my wall it’s a serious problem. Mind you, I don’t have any male Facebook friends that I’ve dated or have sexual history with. He does. Is this a problem or am I overreacting?
- Dealing with a Double Standard