Rap music has featured an element of misogyny since the late 1900s, and when we talk about this perspective being perpetuated through rap, one name immediately comes to mind: that of Eminem. Eminem, in my opinion, is an undeniably tremendous cultural influence; a name that every young person recognizes. He is well recognized among young people as a multifaceted artist who is also a fantastic actor (where he generally portrays a heroic image of himself) and a charismatic performer who writes highly innovative rap lyrics. However, I believe he has utilized his popularity in all the wrong ways, including instilling misogyny, sexism, and hatred for women in young boys who consider themselves avid Eminem fans. How did Eminem manage to do this?
Going back in time, Eminem songs were all around me and I used to know them word to word, without ever truly thinking about what these lyrics were teaching me. I have now realized that growing up, I never recognized the depth of how troublesome his lyrics were, and I never gave it a second thought. However, things have changed drastically. You would be lying to yourself if you said that Eminem's music could go unnoticed or tolerated in today's world; his music is not the type of music that you would want to proudly consume nowadays. I also believe that people from previous generations, not just those of my generation, would prefer not to directly associate themselves with his fanbase. This predominantly shows a shift in mindsets. Previously, the rapper has managed to make it to the headlines of articles, every time he has released a song but for all the wrong reasons.
"Kim," a song named after his ex-wife Kim Scott, wonderfully embodies everything wrong with his lyrics. It is an excellent example of a highly violent and misogynist song, in which Eminem repeatedly talks about abusing and even murdering his ex-wife and children's mother. He goes too far when he mentions murdering a four-year-old child. Kim is referred to as a "bitch" throughout the song, while the rapper threatens to abuse her.
Here are some lyrics:
I should've known better when you started to act weird
We coulda.. hey, where you going? Get back here!
You can't run from me Kim! It's just us, nobody else!
You're only making this harder on yourself!
Ha-ha, got ya! Go ahead, yell!
Here, I'll scream with you! "Ah, somebody help!"
Don't you get it bitch? No one can hear you!
Now shut the fuck up and get what's coming to you!
You were supposed to love me!!
Now bleed bitch, bleed!! Bleed bitch, bleed!! Bleed!!
As is evident with these lyrics, they not only show the writer’s sexist mindset but are also proof of a severe aggression problem. This paves the way to normalize violence against women for young boys and girls who listen to Eminem's music. It is also important to acknowledge that criticizing Eminem for how he portrays women is nothing new, and the term "misogyny" is frequently used to describe the rapper. People often defend him by molding the meaning of the term but Eminem is guilty even if we interpret it to mean simply the hatred for women. He continuously denigrates women as subservient and deserving of physical assault if they cross him in the words mentioned above, which legitimize violence against them. People will also defend him by saying that its just music, and that if someone has a problem with it, they can choose not to listen to it. But what are these people missing? It is how misogynistic lyrics affect women, and what continuing and accepting them says about our society and culture as a whole.
So what exactly does the widespread acceptance of a man who makes a habit of disparaging women indicate about us? A world where the struggle towards gender equality still needs all the struggle women can muster up? Why wouldn't we tolerate marginalizing music for women if we accept inadequate political representation, the gender wage gap, attitudes toward sexual assault, sexism in the workplace, and occupational segregation? Is it disingenuous of us to object to Eminem's statements when misogyny is pervasive, or are his lyrics simply a reflection of the mindset that pervades our society?
I say, we need to put our foot down and start somewhere. There needs to be backlash against music that teaches our children to be violent towards women, and teaches them that it is normal to not give women their rights, and treat them like “bitches”. It is time to start telling our children that this is not okay, that abusing women for entertainment is not something normal men do, and most importantly that viewing women as inferiors is not something to be proud of. Eminem's dreary, constant misogyny is simply outdated and ignorant, and it is causing more harm than we would want to believe.