"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere

Friday, June 16, 2006

Like Hip Hop?

But hate all that woman-hater crap? This sort of problem occurs to lots of people who enjoy a certain activity but hate the shit that goes along with it. John touched on something like this in his post about Hockey: the fast pace of the game is fun, but the violence and its glorification is disturbing. Likewise Hip Hop: I love the way it sounds, but there is so much of it that glorifies everything from sexual harrassment up to rape and murder that I can't listen to it. I think this is the sort of thing that makes some men see feminism as a burden: they think that by throwing their lot in with feminists they're forced to give up things they enjoy.

Often you can find a healthy middle ground. After all, it's not necessarily the activity itself that you come to find distasteful, but certain elements of it that can be cut out. Say I like comic books graphic novels, but it bugs me that women are portrayed so awfully. This doesn't mean I have to give up on graphic novels altogether, just on the ones that offend me. Of course, these tend to be the most common ones, so I actually need to do some hunting to find stuff that won't make me feel dirty.

Some activities are themselves offensive. Let's say I used to enjoy going to strip clubs (I never did, for the record), but as I became more aware I realized how gross that was. I'm not likely to think "I wish I could go and stare at some naked women, but without all that oppression stuff" because it's the staring itself that is oppressive. On the other hand, I am of the opinion that Hip Hop can be great when you take the misogyny and racism out of it. For instance, there is a lot of great rap from France that is powerful, emotionally and politically charged, and doesn't resort to "je donne une claque a ma pute" lyrics.

So, in the spirit of helping people find stuff they can enjoy without compromising their morality, here are a couple of links to stuff that breaks form:

Julien (who I mentioned in a previous post) has a podcast called In Over Your Head. He plays mainly hip hop, that he tries to make sure is racism- and sexism-free. He's pretty well-connected, too, and gets some pretty big names on his shows sometimes. If you are like me and you like Hip Hop but hate the hatred, I recommend you check it out. He tells me that occasionally some offensive lyrics slip through the cracks, so if you hear something on his show you don't like leave him a message about it and he'll probably fix it or at least address your concerns in future shows. Watch out though: the content (especially Julien himself) is not edited for explicit language, so it's definitely Not Safe For Work.

Fallen Angels Used Books: it's a little silly, but I read a ton of webcomics. I found this one recently, and immediately was hooked. Once I managed to figure out why it drew me in so quickly, even before I got pulled into the writing, I realized that the artist draws real people. Characters wear comfortable clothing and are not all skinny. Children are not fetishized. On top of that, there is some examination of oppression and equality. I don't know how in-depth this will go as the plot progresses, but it's nice to see that (for instance) the character who is androphobic is not magically cured by "a night with the right guy" or something.

If you have similar resources for material that breaks expectations of sexism or other oppression, please add a link in the comments; I'd be eager to find out about it.
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