The Sistah Vegan Project

One good girl is worth a thousand bitches(?): Kanye West Confuses the Sh*t Out of Me

For the first time in my life, I have been exposed to a Kanye West music video. The other day, my husband asked me if I had seen the new West video, Bound 2.  I told him that I had never consciously listened to West, but from the few quotes I have heard repeated from him, via popular media, I have no interest in supporting his ‘art.’

My husband told me that I just had to watch Bound 2 with him. So, we watched it together and we laughed through the entire thing.

Seriously, can someone please explain to me how it’s possible to sing something like “One good girl is worth a thousand bitches” and then also speak publicly about how Jimmy Kimmel is being racist towards you as a Black man? Did I miss something? And I’m asking these questions not to dismiss West’s experiences with racism, but more or so not sure how one can constantly be sensitive to anti-Black male racism yet be completely insensitive to their own misogyny and sexism; their objectification of women. In a tweet to respond to Jimmy Kimmel’s parody of West, West wrote something to the effect of how much more “pussy” he (West) gets than Kimmel. Excuse me? What, are we in junior high again with the immature uncritical insults? Yes, it’s obvious that West’s feelings were hurt, but to respond in that way (i.e. talking about how he gets more ‘pussy’) is not productive.

In the lyrics to Bound, West sings while holding his fiancee, “One good girl is worth a thousand bitches.”  As a PhD with focus in critical race feminism, I am unapologetically biased against the meaning and power behind these types of lyrics.

And I am just really confused as well as disappointed. Why? I have met plenty of Black cisgender straight identified men who are sensitive to racism, understand how it works structurally… yet they are insensitive/unaware of how they perpetuate sexism and misogyny. (Or, perhaps they know but just don’t care because they hate not having racial privilege but enjoy the  ‘natural’ position of male privilege? )

And I want to make connections across the board. I have met a lot of straight Black men in the holistic health (vegan/raw) movement who are really aware and critical of structural racism and legacies of white supremacy that affect Black physical and emotional health… but then a significant number of them believe in the ‘naturalness’ of heterosexism, sexism, patriarchy, and being homophobic and transphobic… And yes, there are plenty of white males in the animal rights and vegan movement who totally get how messed up speciesism is, but they engage in racist ways of doing animal rights and social justice, only to become upset and defensive when one points out to them that they are being simultaneously anti-speciesist but racist… and yes, many have also engaged in sexist and sexual harassment behavior. Am I missing something here?

Thank goodness for Seth Rogen and James Franco for creating this parody:

[Updated Nov 27, 2013] I wanted to clarify that I don’t find it funny because two men are kissing or lovers. I found the video funny because Rogen and Franco are doing the exact same movements as Kim and Kanye. I also found it clever to have two men together because of the heteronormative/heterosexist culture that pervades mainstream/Top 40 Hip Hop in the USA. For Kanye, it would seem that being a ‘true’ man is calling certain women bitches and talking about all the ‘pussy’ he can get. It’s all so predictable on how he lets us know ‘how to be a real black man’ through being misogynist and hypersexualized striaght Black man. I’d imagine Kanye would never have two men together in his videos to represent love and masculinity. But, this is simply how I was reading the Bound 2 parody and why I thought the video was hilarious.

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8 thoughts on “One good girl is worth a thousand bitches(?): Kanye West Confuses the Sh*t Out of Me

  1. You explored a number of these issues in an earlier post, one I missed out on while the “active” dialogue was going on: the question on whether victims of discrimination and systemic oppression can be biased and bigoted in turn. The answer to that, in my view, is an unequivocal “yes.” It’s unfortunate, but being the target of systemic discrimination or belonging to a group with a history of oppression DOES NOT automatically create awareness or sensitivity to others experiences of discrimination/persecution. We’d like it to be–but it’s not. In fact, being persecuted can create defense mechanisms (or non-defense, frankly) that harden sensibility towards others (just as it can soften dispositions). At best, there might be a certain sensibility but even that requires informed cultivation. I think it’s a myth and a treacherous one to assume structural discrimination will harbor sensibility toward an Other. Be it Jews in the US who do not understand/are blind to/refuse to see their white privilege to Black men who, while understanding discrimination in an Euro–white world, do not make the connection between structural racism and sexism, no one group/gender is exempt. It’s like 21st century people being shocked to find that Native Americans had African slaves. Or gay men/women who have their own racial and class biases even though they claim to be so attuned to social justice matters. Historical human relationships are always so much more complicated than the romantic notions and expectations we have of them–and people in general are loathe to recognize their privilege or their biases toward others DESPITE belonging to groups, and having direct personal experiences with, discrimination.

  2. It’s great that you are pointing this out. Kanye and many others just don’t make the connection between all of these different forms of discrimination.

    I really hate the idea of “good girls” vs. “bitches.” The terms are both offensive and abstract. What do they mean? Why is one better than the other? Is it even appropriate to explore these questions?

    And the idea of one person being worth more than another person is problematic.

    Have you heard of the dating book “Why Men Love Bitches”?

  3. Crystal on said:

    I think it’s all about the money. It sells ! It seems that most record labels need artists to sing about sex, drugs, the high life, money, F* the government and F* this or that, life sucks so kill yourself, hate your parents, death is cool, etc.

    I think these artists are trapped (willfully or unwillfuly, who knows) in a system that has very high expectations and high demands to a point where the artist may numb themselves to become a Product. And like all marketable products, they need to be trendy, shocking, fascinating..

    Kanye is not a human anymore, he is a Trademark, a product, a disposable Trademark.

    And I find that so sad.

    He seems to be very talented and such a talent should be used for Higher purposes.

    As for the bitch thing. Well, don’t these singers sometimes refer to themselves as dogs, M* f* ers, etc.

    I understand that they may come from a difficult background, I really do. But making money by enforcing that which enslaved them ? That’s just very unhealthy and can potentially lead others to follow these unhealthy footsteps.

    I believe it was Laurybn Hill who said that when hip hop started, it was all about denouncing the system. But when one becomes a part of that system, you become a very different creature.

  4. I don’t understand the dynamic either, I only know that understanding it on its own terms is a prerequisite to causing directed change to the culture which creates it.

  5. Thank you for this, Breeze!

    You and your readers might be interested in the documentary, Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, by Byron Hurt.

    “Hip-hop is a man’s game….

    …but does it have to be? A self-described “hip-hop head” takes an in-depth look at masculinity and manhood in rap and hip-hop, where creative genius collides with misogyny, violence and homophobia, exposing the complex intersections of culture and commerce.”

  6. Just wanted to mention his name is Seth Rogen, not Scott. Also, thank you so much for this blog and all your work. I’ve known about it for years, but didn’t know how to do RSS feeds yet and would forget about it. I’ve recently come back to it when a non-vegan friend of mine asked why I was so uncomfortable doing any kind of activism in vegan communities, and I couldn’t articulate to her clearly that the people I meet there are usually of a one-track-mind and often perpetuate the suffering of their fellow humans. And I have come to realize there are literally only two vegan-oriented blogs I have ever encountered that I truly click with and don’t feel uneasy reading: Sistah Vegan, and another called PaleoVeganology (authored by a college student studying to be a paleontologist). I can not convey to you how deeply I appreciate everything you do here. I am not black, but as a low-income white hispanic Buddhist, I still feel like an outsider in many ways and identify with and am passionate about issues of oppression, which can make it harder to connect with other vegans [who are not comfortable hearing about or addressing these issues]. But the flipside of that can be a sense of isolation where I have no one to talk to about the large-scale exploitation of animals and how to handle living in that world. Thank you so much for everything. When someone makes an ignorant comment criticizing you for what you’re doing, please remember how many non-commenting people are out there who need this blog, and recommending it to other people. I am very inspired by every single post, especially this latest series of post-partum blogs.

    And a small request: as I read your blog, even though the focus is mainly how veganism intersects with racism in our society, I constantly find myself wondering about the food aspect. As a woman who I deeply respect, in particular for your willingness and ability to do research, I often find myself wondering about things like, “There has to be a way to not use teflon and still not have to fry things in oil – I wonder what Breeze Harper uses!” So, particularly because what vegans typically eat in this country is so often painted as being things like fake meat sandwiches, fake cheese pizzas, and other heavily processed “non-ethnic” food, I’d be curious for you to post more about the food side of things. :) Thanks again!

  7. Haha, funny post! A lot of fair points too, guy is too big for his own boots. Even so, the parody is so funny!

  8. The Alchemist on said:

    When a group of men (I’m generalizing about Black men) believe that no one on planet Earth has suffered as much as they have empathizing with anyone else becomes difficult. Unfortunately many Black men (not all) can see no oppression except their own.

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