Wednesday, July 8, 2009

From Degrassi to Drake: Does rap's newest addition respect women?

POP CULTURE UPDATE! With a feminist twist of course...

I don't know how many of you are as entirely infatuated with the Canadian television show called "Degrassi: The Next Generation" but it is one of my favorite soap operas. Degrassi's ridiculous drama always ends with the perfect moral message, a la 7th Heaven, and holds absurdly terrible but endearing acting abilities of sweet Canadian actors making it, obviously, the best thing I have ever seen.

My immensely positive experience with the characters of Degrassi lead me to expect only the best from "Drake", or Aubrey Drake Graham, the newest addition to the American rap scene, who plays the wealthy, attractive, but sensitive Jimmy Brooks on "Degrassi". I will admit my initial interest in Drake's, “Best I Ever Had” was entirely fueled by my realization that he was the star of my favorite show but I was further intrigued by the popular opinion that Drake's public appeal and success was based in his “respect for women".

Since popular rap music usually gives me a throbbing headache as the sexist sound waves hit me in the face, I was excited to see that Drake, aka "Jimmy Brooks", was promoting a female friendly rap song.

But, sadly, I was mistaken.

Drake gave up the good natured “Jimmy Brooks” for the American rap scene. His lyrics are simply more of the same with a chorus that sounds kind of like a compliment with “You the F*cking best”, while the "compliment" hinges on the availability and sexual skills of the woman in question.

Drake follows with praising his female companion for withholding sex ("she make me beg for it till she give it up") but only for a time. Would he like her as much if she never actually "gave it up" or wasn't ready for sex?

Asking women to withhold their own sexual desires, but also always be ready to "give it up" when asked, is a constant double standard perpetuated by countless outlets of media today. Drake is not "respecting" women, he is simply demanding women do what he wants or else they won't be "the F*cking best".

Also, you should check out the video Kanye West invented for Drake which even further emphasizes Drake's opinion on what makes a worth while woman.

The implication that women are only successful as partners or girlfriends if they constantly engage in sexual acts or fantasies is one of the most detrimental aspects of pop culture and music today. Young girls grow up believing their worth as a human being is bound up with how attractive men think they are. This idea penetrates race and class and fall upon all women who are subjected to these lyrics.

Obviously, I am disappointed in Drake. But no matter how hard he tries to be the next Lil' Wayne, Drake will always be Jimmy Brooks to me, the nice Canadian boy from Degrassi High who scolded his friend Spinner for treating their gay friend differently, who forgave the man who caused his paralysis,and was an aspiring rapper while trapped in a wheelchair. Maybe if I hold him to this image Jimmy Brooks can make a reappearance in Drake. Until then I suggest watching Degrassi, especially the first few seasons, and ignore Drake until he lives up to his promise of empowering women.


Lauren said...

"Degrassi" was my LIFE during high school--I watched 2-3 episodes every night! I totally remember Jimmy Brooks and have a special place in my heart for everything his character went through/represented throughout the show. I didn't know his rapping career had gone this far, but I'm certainly disgusted after watching this video. Just remember that actors and characters are often totally different people.

Lauren said...

p.s. the intro when the women are running in is just disgusting.

Jenna said...

What an interesting post. I love your writing "voice." I will have to watch Degrassi!

JeanieAngel said...

I have watched every episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation faithfully since I was eight years old. And I am also a HUGE hip hop fan. I was completely exstatic to see that my favorite man finally made it big. (I have been waiting ever since the wheelchair rap with Ashely.)

As for the video, I have seen it and to me it looks just like any other hip hop video. Thinking that he is being derogatory toward women is completely wrong. These women were not forced to run around on the video. Actually, I am sure they were more than willing to be featured. I know I would be. Men like to see women's bodies. I, as a woman, do not mind seeing a nice male figure myself.

I think everyone needs to get real and think "What sells? Girl playing croquette in sweater, girl playing basketball in booty shorts?...Hmmm."

He is a man, so he likes sexy bodies. And as far as willingness to have sex goes, trust me it is not just the guy that wants it. Since you stated you do not often listen to "rap" (it's hip hop by the way), it might be unclear to you that taunting a man is sexy. That is what he means by "she make my beg for it, til she give it up." Hence, why he "[does] the same thing every single time."

Let's hate on men because they like to have sex! This sort of "disrespect" from men only exists because extreme feminists believe it does. Think you're a true fan? You are in denial: He is just not a little boy anymore.