Tag Archives: misogyny

Tyler the Repeator

Tyler, the Creator’s album, “Goblin”
Image credit: OddFuture.com

A few weeks ago, I read Ryan Bassil’s intriguing article, “The Conspiracy Theorist’s Guide to Tyler, the Creator’s ‘Wolf’ Trilogy,” in which Bassil hypothesizes that “Tyler, the Creator has created a directorial story-telling masterpiece…the best multi-faceted storyline since Slim Shady told me to go and stick nine-inch nails into each one of my eyelids.” And I’ll admit, I was interested.

With Bassil’s (incorrectly dubbed) conspiracy theory at my mind’s forefront as I perused the tracks, I continued to find myself at the least entertained – possibly impressed. His lyrics were dark, yes; but they displayed an extreme irreverence that I appreciated. I particularly enjoyed his revulsion at religion. Finally, we have a hip hop artist who doesn’t comply with the religious paradigm of the genre, I imagined. “But then again, I’m an atheist that just worships Satan / And it’s probably why I’m not getting no fucking album placements.” A rapper who can openly poke fun at the misconceptions and discriminations of nonbelievers? I thought we had a winner.

After the first go-round of his tracks, some red flags waved feebly, and I chose to ignore them. I quickly dismissed the criticism of Tyler that assumed his homophobia. His close relationship with and support of Frank Ocean (an openly gay hip hop artist) and repeated assertion that his incessant use of the word “faggot” works to deplete the word’s potential to demean persuaded me enough to continue to give Tyler the chance to be the good guy.

But the more I listened – and paid attention to – the lyrics (and the controversies surrounding them), the more it became apparent that Tyler the Creator is decidedly not a good guy.

The worst of his offenses comes in the form of outright misogynistic lyrics. And we’re not talking about subliminal, euphemistic, kind-of-rapey, “Blurred Lines”-esque misogyny (though that too is a problem). In the case of Tyler the Creator, we’re looking at full-fledged, graphic endorsement of rape. Take this excerpt from a song devoted almost entirely to rape imagery, “Transylvania“: “And now the slut is under the fucking assumption / That I will be fucking and munching her muffin / Cunt will be bleeding, but that’s not from the time signature of the month, umm.”

Apologists for Tyler have tried to explain these lyrics away. According to them, Tyler is embodying the personality of a rapist and is actually ridiculing the lonely assailant. Perhaps this is the case, but Tyler has allowed for this alternate personality to spill over into his real life.

At a 2011 show at the Highline Ballroom in New York, a “blonde girl surfed her way onstage and kissed Tyler, who announced, “I might legit have herpes.” The crowd laughed and started a “show your titties” chant, and she refused, looking bashful. “Then get the fuck off the stage!” Tyler yelled.”

Furthermore, after migrating into the crowd, Tyler announced:

that near the bar, he’d “bumped into a bitch and she got mad.”

“Bitch is a stripper!” he yelled, and lots of people cheered and laughed at the prospect of the bitch being a stripper. “Why come to an Odd Future show if you gon’ get mad?” he asked. “Pussy musta got like five licks. Bitch is a fuckin’ stripper, yo. You can go home if you don’t like it.”

In a room full of young men, many of whom could share Tyler’s misogynistic tendencies, I worry that women in these positions literally stand in the presence of physical danger. His behavior is not that of someone who relegates an alternate personality to his music. Tyler’s insistence that a woman’s worth is determined by her willingness to succumb to the demands of aggressive males perpetuates a culture that allows for the execution of the acts to which Tyler alludes.

Another defense of Tyler, the Creator stems from precisely that which I admired about him upon initial listening – his irreverence. Vulgarity can at times serve as the pitchfork with which we poke oppressors. Take Louis CK, whose sometimes obscene comedy routines regularly mock those deserving of mocking – the rapists, homophobes and racists. As Christopher Hitchens said, “One of the beginnings of human emancipation is the ability to laugh at authority.” The defenders of Tyler often posit that this is what he is doing.

However, closer inspection of his content reveals more predictability than polemics. As Sady, a writer for the blog Tiger Beatdown notes, Tyler isn’t saying anything that hasn’t been said by misogynists of the past. All Tyler is doing is weaving his chauvinism with clever rhymes. He’s spitting his venom louder and with much fervor, but it’s still the poison of the past.

Tyler’s Twitter feed, which regularly includes the same type of hate found in his music, serves as a sample of the person Tyler has become (or always was). Most of his tweets are in ALL CAPS, giving the impression that he is yelling. Yet nothing on his feed is of the level of importance that it deserves enthusiastic shouting. Tyler is the epitome of volume over substance.

Do I believe that Tyler, the Creator has the potential to shake up the hip hop genre? My adamant answer is yes. But nonconformity requires disrupting the norm; and right now, Tyler is but a coarse parrot for anti-woman sentiments that existed long before Tyler’s lame attempts to commandeer them.

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Filed under Feminism, Pop Culture

Yeah, it’s a problem

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson: Skepchick
Image credit: Wikipedia

Yesterday, Rebecca Watson updated her site, Skepchick, with a post about the objectification she experiences in the online community – particularly in the atheist community. The post was unplanned, the result of receiving an email that depicted Watson in a very dehumanizing light. (She was bound, covered in semen, being penetrated anally by a dildo. The caption read, “Rebecca Watson is an object.”)

With much calmness and clarity, Watson discussed in her post why the so-called “witch-hunt” (as deemed by Michael Shermer) for anti-female atheists is an absurd notion, and why misogyny needs to be addressed in the atheist and skeptic movements.

I thought the article was very well composed, so I posted it to r/atheism on Reddit under the heading, “I used the think the atheist movement was better than this. I have seen enough of it lately to convince me otherwise.” Admittedly (and this is also an issue with Watson’s own argument), there is no evidence to suggest that the email Watson received was generated by an atheist. Such an email could also have been made by a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, a pagan, an anti-vaxxer, a Republican, or a variety of other individuals (Watson has more than her fair share of haters).

So, maybe I (and Watson) was being too brash by labeling this hate mail as atheist. That’s a fair criticism, and I’m willing to accept it. However, I have seen plenty of anti-female rhetoric spewed at atheists by fellow atheists (particularly on PZ Myers’, Greta Christina’s, and Watson’s blogs), so this discussion still seems to be one that needs to be had.

A quick rebuttal to a common argument: The term “professional victims” is thrown around in this conversation quite often. Some even claim that those claiming victimhood are only doing so to garner attention and create a false rhetoric from the anti-feminist crowd. It is possible that this is the case. However, as a skeptic, I think that this argument deserves a heavy amount of criticism. As should be the case for victims of rape, we should not immediately disregard these claims as self-serving deceptions. When someone claims to have been molested, it is morally unjustifiable to dismiss the complaints as false. Some rape claims are unfounded; but we don’t ignore the few who lie at the expense of the overwhelming majority who have actually been raped. Thus, when Watson says that she is threatened in these ways, it is only responsible to consider her claim and offer assistance when possible.

Moving on…

When I posted this link on Reddit, I was interested to see how the Reddit community would react. The first comment was encouraging; it basically stated solemnly that every movement was likely to have its set of crazies. From there, however, everything went downhill. Following are bits of the conversation that ensued. The user “fococsume” is me.

[-] coprolite_hobbyist 3 points 18 hours ago
So? What has that got to do with us or atheism?

Those people are pretty fucking annoying and they put themselves out as public figures. While it is deplorable that someone is sending them mean pictures, it is neither surprising nor of any importance.

[-] fococsume -2 points 18 hours ago
This is about someone in the atheist movement being physically threatened. And if it IS coming from others in the movement, then I think it definitely deserves our attention.

[-] coprolite_hobbyist 3 points 18 hours ago
That word, physically, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Unless someone is coming up to her in person with a weapon or raised fists, she is not being physically threatened. See, that is the kind of hyperbole and sloppy use of language that tends to annoy people.

To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t think it deserves any attention at all and attempting to get others to give it any attention is a waste of time for all concerned. I am far more concerned about how she and her ilk are damaging atheism in general than I am about people sending her crudely drawn pictures or how she interprets them.

I really think she and the rest of Atheism+ should just go fuck themselves. (do your very best to interpret that as a physical threat)

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[-] fococsume -2 points 18 hours ago
By “physical threat,” I meant that people are threatening to physically harm her. Being told that she is going to be raped at a conference constitutes a physical threat in my mind. I’m curious though: How do you think she and the Atheism+ crowd are harming the movement?

[-] coprolite_hobbyist 3 points 18 hours ago
Yes, I know what you meant and I explained to you that you are wrong. Threatening to harm someone is not a physical threat, it is a verbal or written threat. If the person seems actually capable of carrying out the threat, it is a crime and it is called assault. Actually touching someone without their permission is called battery. A physical threat would be if I put my fist in your face, swung a bat at you or in some other way attempted to batter you.

The vacuous and unjustified whining about the use of language, the sudden and vitriolic insertion of radical feminist male-hating into the atheist dialogue, the obsessive concern that everyone that does not accept the strict feminist orthodoxy is a potential rapist, the attempt to silence critics through political correctness and general over-sensitivity to problems that do not actually exist detracts from the atheist dialogue.

You want to be a feminists? Go do that, bless your little heart, but don’t pretend it has anything to do with atheism and don’t expect me to give a shit.

[-] fococsume -3 points 18 hours ago
Haha. And you have the nerve to complain about “vacuous and unjustified whining about the use of language” and hyperbole? “…obsessive concern that everyone that does not accept the strict feminist orthodoxy is a potential rapist…” << Nice.

[-] coprolite_hobbyist 3 points 17 hours ago
Yeah, I guess you can go fuck yourself, too.

[-] fococsume -2 points 17 hours ago
With pleasure.

[–]coprolite_hobbyist 0 points 17 days ago

Use a broken bottle for a special level of enjoyment.

[–]fococsume[S] 1 point 17 days ago

Reasoned debate just ain’t what it used to be.

[–]coprolite_hobbyist 1 point 17 days ago

Oh, is that what you were attempting to do? I didn’t recognize it as such. Anyway, you have much more important things to do, like fucking yourself. Find a nice splintered baseball bat, don’t stop until you bleed out.

(Note: I previously claimed that the comments above – those in reference to fucking myself – had been deleted. That was incorrect. Thanks for bringing that to my attention, coprolite_hobbyist.)

Here’s the point: Sure, I misused the term physical threat. What I should have said is that Watson was threatened online by people claiming the desire to inflict upon her physical harm. The fact is that the person disparaging Watson’s claims was astonishingly quick to revert to the same tactics about which Watson was complaining in the first place. I wasn’t personally bothered by the weird suggestions, but I’m also not a prominent figure in the movement who could actually be harmed at one of the conferences. I’m also not a woman.

Here’s another argument posted in the comments section:

[-] GetBusy09876 3 points 17 hours ago
Tempest in a teapot surrounded by a real fucking tempest. I can’t believe we’re still wasting time on this bullshit when girls are getting acid thrown in their faces or shot in the head for going to school. When creationism is being legislated into school curricula in the US. Talk about first world problems. Priorities. This is on the level of drama, which means it can safely be ignored. And it should be.

If the logic of this claim is to be followed, then why do we care about any issues that aren’t the foremost threat to human existence posed by religion? Why do we bother spending our time and money on atheist billboards? Shouldn’t the sum of our effort be directed at religious genocide? The atheist movement has never been a one-issue movement, as much as some would like to believe that we can just stop at the fact that none of us believe in God. We address issues like gay rights, racism, circumcision, education and abortion because we care about a number of issues facing humanity, and we believe that reason, skepticism and science have the best answers to these problems.

I believe that feminism necessarily must also be a focus of the atheist movement. The belief that women are somehow inferior to men is a belief not based in reason, and therefore it must be dispelled. Feminists are not arguing that women are better than men, nor are we arguing that anybody who doesn’t agree with us is a rapist. We are arguing that women deserve equal respect as men, and we take into account history, privilege, prejudices and a variety of other factors that play into the female role in society.

While I will apologize for my slight errors in semantics, I will not back down from defending feminism – and I will do so from the standpoint of an atheist.

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Filed under Atheism/Religion