Arn't I A Woman?: Why Drake Is Good For Feminism

Lisa

Lisa
This blog intends to be a safe public space; A communal cyber sanctuary from oppression. All are welcome here.

Jan 20, 2014

Why Drake Is Good For Feminism

Listen up nerds: It’s time to finally start a legitimate discussion about Canada’s finest MC and rap’s go to punching bag Aubrey Graham, more affectionately known under his stage moniker, Drake.

My man Drake has managed to really ruffle some public feathers since his rap career took off, launching him from the halls of Degrassi High into music’s megastar stratosphere. Why the constant hate for Drake from almost everywhere regardless of taste preferences, intelligence, race, gender, or other identifiers? Well, he rebukes the stereotypes society tries to subscribe to him for one. A Jewish childhood actor turned rapper from Canada who sings about his feelings? Wait a second, that doesn’t fit into any of these neat little boxes we have laying around!

This is bullshit, Drake. If you’re gonna rap, then why are you smiling?!

People are uncomfortable with Drake because he doesn’t force packaged “hardcore” rap rhetoric into his rhymes, but still frequently expresses himself as a hardcore rapper. The truth is, identity concepts like "hardcore gangsta rapper" don't really, truly exist in society because they are too trivialized to encompass the complexities of human nature. What does it sound like when we criticize a man for being openly vulnerable? What does it mean when a man exhibits a willingness to express feelings and he is met with mockery and insults on his very manhood? It sounds to me like the same old (broken) American system that reduces men to anger and stoicism. And I wanna see some receipts on where that’s a positive social move.

A huge part of feminist dialogue is about keeping things female-centered; it can make sense when talking about a system blatantly subordinating woman to want to keep the dialogue focused on female voices and perspectives. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t look to men as allies. And that doesn’t mean we don’t need to understand and analyze the male experience as much as we do the female experience.

Everyone has to foster a new environment where we can learn to reward men for expressing their feelings. It is really not a good thing to encourage anyone to repress parts of themselves, and that is effectively what we are doing when we ostracize people who don’t adhere to stereotypes or whom fall outside the acceptable social spectrum for a specific role they were externally assigned. That creates psychological issues such as displaced anger. Could it be that a patriarchally run society traps men as much as it traps women? And could it be that maybe- just MAYBE- Drake is bucking some serious stereotypes about what it means to be a man, to be a rapper, to be black- and that it is making some people uncomfortable? Can we allow for real authentic human beings like Drake, whose story is more than a wikipedia page, to exist? Started from the bottom, and now....well, you know the rest.  

In case you missed it, here's Drake's auto-biographical opening monologue from his recent AMAZING stint as SNL host: 




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Sojourner Truth

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Sojourner Truth

Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention

Akron, Ohio