I'm so grateful for the thoughtfulness and care these wonderful guys have extended me in these conversations. These men are treasures. They're willing to see things from a point of view that may not be their own inherently by virtue of having had an entirely different life experience in the world. Their open hearts and minds lend a much needed empathy to the kinds of conversations we need to be having in order to move our beautiful collective human story forward.
I'd like to see those wonderful men continue to speak up on this subject because, for me, there is no room in our human story to tolerate or excuse lyrics like this:
“Ain’t no one safe from, non-believers there ain’t none
I even make the bitches I rape cum.”
- Eminem, in Dr. Dre's Medicine Man.
Yes, I get there may be merit to what Dr. Dre is trying to say with the rest of the song but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the specific lyrics Eminem contributed and how they pertain to the insidious culture of rape that has too long informed the way women are treated in the world.
According to Eminem, women are (still) bitches and he can make them cum by raping them. Lyrically speaking, he seems to take pride in the ability to inflict horrific sexual violence upon women who, according to him, will no doubt climax as a result of his maniacal prowess.
I know this is a song and not his admission. But this isn't the first time he's written material like this about women and rape. And the jury's been in on this for a good long while: WORDS MATTER. If we know words have impact, is this really how we want to be describing women and rape? Those who have suffered through this kind of violence will tell you it's not the sexy experience Eminem portrays it to be.
When I consider recent events, I feel unsettled, friends. I really do. I sit here and wonder why it took forty women to come forward before we were willing to disbelieve one man who said they were all lying. I wonder why a beloved Canadian radio host assaulted and harassed a multitude of women over the years, all while people knew or were advised about it and yet nothing was done to stop him sooner. Bill Cosby, Jian Ghomeshi... The list of manipulative, violent perpetrators goes on. Is it any wonder these individuals got away with their sexual violence for so long when, as a society, we have allowed lyrics and programming that minimize women and rape to become so commonplace? Can we not see how these specific examples of verbal degradation contribute to the overall minimization of women and their bodies?
I know Eminem has got a huge following. I know this is an uncomfortable topic and I know people don't want to talk about it. I suspect some of you reading this will likely roll your eyes at my words and tell me to relax and not take it so seriously. But until those 200 Nigerian school girls from Chibok who were abducted and likely raped as child brides are rescued and returned to their families; until the Vancouver woman in Strathcona grows back the finger she lost a few months ago when she was brutally raped and attacked in her home at knifepoint in the middle of the day; until women can take charge of their own reproductive health in America without interference from fossilized government representatives and have it covered by health insurance as easily and freely as viagra is made available to men; until First Nations women in this country who have gone missing at an alarming rate are given the reverence and protection they deserve; until women are paid the same as men for doing the same work; until the importance of the female sexual experience is commonly acknowledged as equal to and not less than the sexual experience of men; until magazines stop telling me why I'll never be enough for my husband or how I can make myself more beautiful to keep him, I will go ahead and write them anyway:
WHEN IT COMES TO HOW WE SPEAK ABOUT WOMEN, IT IS TIME TO CHANGE THE DAMN CONVERSATION.
I implore you, don't give Eminem the last word. Don't help him send us back in time. Speak up.
Let's move our human story forward where it belongs.
The Happiness Detective