Yesterday, a host of blog posts/Tweets went up as video clips revealed Jay Electronica on two occasions asking concert goers about their feelings regarding oral asphyxiation during sex for women. Needless to say, a lot of folks expressed their discontent for the rappers’ “lack of sensitivity,” “sexism,” etc.
Is riling up a group of Hip-Hop concert attendees about choking women during sex the most responsible thing to do? No. However, I’m not surprised that Jay Elec didn’t know that. I’m not calling him ignorant about women’s issues—we know that he rolls with at least two highly intelligent and outspoken ladies (Dream Hampton and Erykah Badu)—or giving him a free pass to say anything he pleases because I dig his music. But as there is tremendous pressure for rappers to be hypermasculine and hypersexual, as there is such a climate of accepted misogyny in the Rap world, and as American culture in general is extremely tolerant of both subtle and aggressive sexism . . . it doesn’t seem surprising to me that he would feel totally innocent in saying something like, “Is it true that all women like getting choked during sex?”
There are nasty, vile expressions of woman-hate (say, a rapper yelling out, “F*ck these b*tches and get money!”), and then there are irresponsible, insensitive statements that can be teachable moments for not only the person who said them, but for the fans and onlookers who have so much to say in their reactions. The question for me is not, “What’s wrong with Jay Electronica?”, but rather, “What’s wrong with America that our men don’t know that you can’t just say sh*t like that all willy nilly?”
What are the takeaways here, kids? One, the concept of consent. We are still trying to drive home the concept of “No means no” in the minds of far too many folks, so I don’t doubt for a minute that a LOT of men would think, “Let me ask this girl if I can wrap my hands around her neck while I’m hitting that.” In order to make sex both positive and pleasurable (and LEGAL) for all parties, consent is king. Also, we need to remain mindful that people have all sorts of past histories with sexual abuse and violence, and that any sex act that may somehow resemble those things should be discussed with a certain level of care. We know now that Jay Electronica won’t be yelling about choking at any more shows, but now let’s also help Jason Ellis to understand why he shouldn’t blurt out “Who likes choking?” at a tipsy dinner party with his classmates.
Finally, let us be reminded that in order to effectively hip people to this feminist sh*t, we can’t go straight to whooping and hollering and calling people sexists and throwing them away. The end goal is change, not massive exoneration. So let’s ensure that when someone says or does something like this, they receive clear and concise information as to what was wrong/offensive in hopes that they understand and adjust their behavior accordingly. “Damn, Jay, what were you thinking? is one thing; “F*ck is wrong with Jay Electronica? What a sexist a$$hole!” is another.
If you really know about gender politics, then you should understand how easy it is for a man (or woman) to do or say some really misogynist stuff, because there are so few spaces in which they are taught better. Do we want to react with the sort of venom that makes our folks life long foes of feminism, or do we want to develop allies? Dream Hampton tweeted yesterday that she called her boy, had a long thoughtful discussion, and he now understands why his words were offensive. That’s what we we want, correct? If he pops up with the “Choke a chick” talk in three months, then send in the cannons. But, for now, let’s be glad that a whole lot of folks had a chance to learn something about this gender thing.