Tune in and turn up

In an interview with The Breakfast Club on Monday, Rick Ross had some ridiculous things to say about his love for chicken wings, but even more absurd were his comments about women throughout. When questioned about the fact that he has not signed a female rapper to his Maybach Music Group label (naturally by Angela Yee, the only female Breakfast Club host), his response was alarming.

“I never did it because I always thought I would end up fucking the female rapper, fucking the business up. You know, she looking good. I’m spending so much money on her photo shoots. I gotta fuck a couple times,” he replied.

What Ross seems to imply in his response is that women in hip-hop who have an interest in building a career in the industry are more or less just potential sexual conquests, unlike his male contemporaries who would be considered his peers without question. With sexist statements like these, it’s no wonder women have a much tougher time breaking through in the world of hip-hop.

The issue lies not only in Ross’ problematic opinions about women, but also in the reaction of male Breakfast Club co-host Charlamagne tha God. Whereas Yee says and “Oh my god.. That’s awful,” immediately challenging Ross’ reply, Charlamagne erupts in laughter. As opposed to just dismissing statements like these with laughter or simply ignoring them, men could instead speak up with something as simple as a “not cool.”

Even before the interview started, Ross chose to “playfully” grab Yee, who appears less than amused. Near the beginning of the interview when Lee remarked that her friends attended a recent pool party at Rick Ross’s house, the rapper replied, “I need you twerking at the next one.”

Again, with gestures and comments like these, women are made to feel like they matter less than men and that their value lies only at the surface. It seems that Ross has not at all learned the error of his ways. In 2014, he was dropped from a Reebok campaign for lyrics in his verse on Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O.” that were interpreted by many as describing date rape – “Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”

While in this particular instance Ross isn’t saying anything so extreme that it alludes to violence against women, his comments and actions are nevertheless indicative of misogyny, and are the type of micro aggressions that can make women not want to bother fully participating in hip-hop culture or pursue careers in music. It seems gatekeepers of the industry are being exposed for abusive behaviour almost constantly with little to no consequence for their actual careers – the extensive investigation into R. Kelly’s sex cult and the disturbing video of A$AP Bari come to mind as two very recent examples. Rick Ross is still going to sell records and run his label, R. Kelly still has a music career, and we haven’t heard anything from Nike about terminating their ongoing collaboration with A$AP Bari.

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In the 2017 media landscape, news hype cycles are shorter than ever, often only lasting a few days. While people are reacting to allegations of abusive behaviour more and more on social media, the outrage rarely seems to last much longer than the story is “trending.” However, if we can manage to sustain our rage, or at least call people out on a smaller scale for misogyny and the like in our own lives, change can actually happen.

More often than not the very people who deal with oppression or abuse are the ones who rise to the occasion to educate everyone else – survivors educating others on abuse, people of color teaching white people about racism, the list goes on. If it weren’t for the efforts of women’s rights group Ultraviolet, Reebok may have never dropped Rick Ross in the first place.

It is up to all of us to speak out against abuse on every level when it happens, but it is especially important for men to call out other men, whether they make a silly misogynistic joke or defend a man who is a known abuser. If you’re not sure where to start, The Fader just published an excellent piece on how we can all stop supporting and protecting abusive men, which you can read right here.

For more of our op-eds, Aleks Eror asks what’s next for Linkin Park in the aftermath of Chester Bennington’s death right here.

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