Kanye West & Taylor Swift: Can I Be a Rap Fan and a Feminist?

Kanye West & Taylor Swift: Can I Be a Rap Fan and a Feminist?

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Kanye has been pulling a great deal of 'Kanyes' lately. He’s been taking to Twitter more than usual following the release of his latest album to unburden his oh-so-great mind of all the oh-so-weighty thoughts he carries around in it. 

Recent gems include his begging, yes, actually begging, Mark Zuckerberg for money and his admonition that the word ‘bitch’ is none other than a form of endearment in hip hop.

The latter tweet may not have garnered such a huge response (after all, the prevalence of misogyny in hip hop is really nothing new), were it not aimed at Taylor Swift. No one calls Taylor a bitch, obviously. Nor claims to take responsibility for her fame. 

Actress Ruby Rose chimed in with the voices of dissent to say: ‘Can I still support [Kanye] and call myself a feminist? A friend? No.’ 

And, well… she’s right. As a hip hop aficionado, it’s something I’ve been trying to reconcile for myself. 

Last month, while in Miami, I found myself in the presence of… let’s just say I was in the presence of some of the biggest and best hip hop currently has to offer thanks to a friend who is high up on one of the rapper’s payrolls. 

As a hip-hop fan it was potentially one of the coolest moments of my life. But as a female it was truly harrowing and heart breaking and eye opening all in one. 

It wasn’t necessarily the girls jiggling and gyrating their naked bodies while the rappers looked hazily, lazily, blankly on. It wasn’t even when they dropped to their knees and crawled on the floor to pick up the dollar bills that had been thrown at them. 

It wasn’t in the way one of the rapper’s entourage couldn’t, for the life of him, remember my name – even when I repeated it maybe 100 times. It wasn’t even in the way he said to me, ‘look B, you’re a gorgeous girl but there are many of you. No, I don’t remember your name, does it really matter?’ while licking his lips and drawing me closer.

It was all of it. It was the overwhelming feeling that I, and all females, were literally nothing other than disposable vaginas. 

It’s a pretty shitty realisation to come to when you simultaneously admire those same men and their music. As director Ava DuVernay tweeted: ‘To be a woman who loves hip hop is to be in love with your abuser.’

Content analyses have found that between 22% and 37% of rap lyrics contain some misogyny while 67% of rap lyrics sexually objectify women. But not all hip-hop is misogynistic.  

Legendary femcee MC Lyte recently called rapper Fetty Wap a feminist for musical contributions the likes of Trap Queen, a reported ode to women holding down the fort. ‘He’s being pretty courageous right now with what it is he presents in his music because it’s really not the norm,’ she explained. 

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Alya Mooro is a London based Masters of Journalism graduate and freelance fashion, lifestyle and opinion journalist and blogger.