Ice Cube And Why We Need To Start Defending The So-Called B*tches And H*s

August 17, 2015  |  

You won’t get much argument from me when it comes to the importance of N.W.A in the fabric of hip-hop music.

N.W.A was hip-hop’s version of A Clockwork Orange; they gave us the important narrative of the disaffected Black youth spawned from the implosion of Black rights and pride movements of the ’60s, reared during the Ronald Reagan crack era of the ’80s.

With that said, you also won’t get any argument from me when it comes to the fact that the notorious hip-hop quartet was also violent, homophobic and misogynistic. Hell, you won’t even get that argument from some of the group’s members. As Ice Cube shared with Rolling Stone about the group’s anti-Black women lyrics:

“If you’re a bitch, you’re probably not going to like us. If you’re a ho, you probably don’t like us. If you’re not a ho or a bitch, don’t be jumping to the defense of these despicable females. Just like I shouldn’t be jumping to the defense of no punks or no cowards or no slimy son of a bitches that’s men. I never understood why an upstanding lady would even think we’re talking about her.”

Drug dealers are despicable. Gang bangers who shoot up their own communities are despicable. Pimps who trade in the flesh of other human beings are despicable. Thugs who do nothing but terrorize their neighborhoods all day are despicable. Cube and the gang made no qualms about “jumping to the defense” of dealers, pimps, gang bangers and thugs. And yet, being a “ho” and a “bitch” is a bridge too far for him?

The dreaded double standard, I tell ya…

It’s the same standard that tells us that men can exercise the most destructive of behaviors and still be considered heroes and revolutionaries. The same standard which tells us that they can live outside of the scope of what traditional gender roles and respectability politics expect of them – including providing for and protecting women and children – and still be seen as men of good standing. The same standard that would allow men who made songs about killing other men to be in a rap song about stopping the violence. And a standard that would allow one of its members to be transformed into a family man, white-water rafting down a river with his preppy-looking wife and kids.

We know that life in America is much harder for Black men. There are the police and biased court systems, which prey on them. There is the school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration that holds them back. There are companies, which won’t hire them and gangs that want to kill them. We are quick to understand how systems of racism work to their disadvantage. That is why we protect them and give them leeway, even when their angst over their conditions is (often) directed at us.

But racism isn’t, and has never been, gender specific. And just like Black men, Black women also find themselves in extremely difficult positions based upon their race in our society. We too have to deal with the police and disproportionate prosecutions by the courts. Our girls also face unfair disciplinary practices at school. We too aren’t hired for jobs (or, when we are employed, we find ourselves represented more in low-wage work) and even face an unemployment rate that is as high as Black men’s.

Coupled with our racial oppression is the subjugation we face just for being women. Like the gender wage gap, which not only pays us less than Black men but our White women counterparts too. And like our above average domestic violence rates, abuse that most times is at the hands of those who look like us.

However, this is not a game of Oppression Olympics. But it is an acknowledgment that life for Black women ain’t been no crystal stair either. And yet, when it comes to a mass outcry about the often difficult task of being a Black woman in America, particularly for the so-called bitches and hos, very few seek to understand and defend.

There is an actual term for this double standard, particularly as it relates to the Black community. According to Trudy, creator of the blog Gradient Lair, the term “misogynoir” can be defined in the following way:

…a word used to describe how racism and anti-Blackness alter the experience of misogyny for Black women, specifically. It alludes to specifically Black women’s experiences with gender and how both racism and anti-Blackness alters that experience diametrically from White women (as anti-Blackness and White supremacy make White women the “norm” in terms of intersectional experiences with gender, even as solely via gender, misogyny harms all women) and differently from non-Black women of colour (as though they face racism, the dehumanization associated with anti-Blackness is more than racism or sexualized objectification alone, but speaks to the history of Black bodies and lives treated as those of non-persons). I recently saw a thread of false information and non-Black women of colour co-opting to erase Black womanhood, Black women’s experiences and Black women’s epistemology from the concept of misogynoir. Again, the origin is in Black womanhood and the term was coined by a queer Black woman, Moya Bailey.

Since way before the time when our bodies were being paraded around in human circuses, both our race and our gender has made us vulnerable to sexual exploitation. As noted in this article titled “Reclaiming Their Lives and Breaking Free: An Afrocentric Approach to Recovery From Prostitution,” which appeared in the Journal of Women and Social Work:

Childhood risk factors and limited access to economic and educational resources place poor African American women and girls at significantly higher rates of risk for entry into prostitution at earlier ages as a consideration for survival (Kramer & Berg, 2003). African American women and girls are disproportionately represented among women who are involved in street prostitution—the lower echelon of the prostitution hierarchy (Kramer & Berg, 2003). They are disproportionately (90%) represented among female victims of prostitution-related homicide (Goktepe et al., 2002), and are more likely (60%) to be controlled by a pimp (Giobbe, 1993; Norton-Hawk, 2004). Prostituted African American women are more likely to be arrested, have higher fines levied, receive more jail time, and have their children removed by the child welfare system (Nelson, 1993).

And yet, where are their swan songs?

Where are the odes to the Black bitches and hos who sell tricks to feed their families? Where are the lyrical shout-outs to the Black bitches and hos who are trapped by “Amerikkka” in the vicious cycle of incarceration? Who screams out “F**k tha Killers” for the Black bitches and hos who are raped, murdered and dumped on the side of the road like garbage? What really is the purpose of a musical movement, which seeks to bring understanding to the harsh realities of the Black dealers, bangers and killers in our community, but can’t defend, nor respect, the plight of the Black bitches and hos?

While Cube and his cohorts should be noted in history for being one of the first musical acts to shine a much-needed light on the brutality faced by young Black men, we should not forget how this group also threw Black women under the bus in order to empower themselves. And not only has their music continued the long-standing tradition of sexually exploiting the most vulnerable members of our oppression (Black women and girls who are indeed caught up in prostitution), but it has also continued the equally long-standing tradition of defining the entirety of Black womanhood as nothing more than so-called bitches and hoes.

After all, some of us got other jobs. Try telling that to hotel staff or the White man who propositions you at the bus stop, all because they don’t know or don’t care to know the difference.

So yeah, F Ice Cube for that. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m going to keep defending the Black bitches and hos.

 

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