Unfortunately, I’m accustomed to the casual sexism of hip-hop. Like many women, I have an internal conflict with liking what is ultimately offensive, a sentiment documented in Joan Morgan’s 2000 tome, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost. As a woman raised on “Money, Cash, Hoes,” I loathed the chorus but still found a way to enjoy the lyrics and dance to the beat — it takes a lot to ruffle my feathers.
But Too $hort — remember him? — and hip-hop magazine XXL managed to do just that. Last week, via Twitter, Morgan brought my attention to a video that XXL posted on its site where $hort, now 45, offers a bit of “fatherly advice” to young men in “late middle school, early high school.”
The video has since been removed, but the transcripts include such golden nuggets from $hort like suggesting, “A lot of the boys are going to be running around trying to get kisses from the girls, we’re going way past that. I’m taking you to the hole… This is what you do. You push her up against the wall or pull her up against you while you lean on the wall and you take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens. It’s like magic.”
What the heezy?
XXL and $hort are contributing to a culture where the degradation of women is already pervasive. In 2009, 20 teenage boys gang-raped a fellow 15-year-old student outside a school dance. In 2010, a national study found that 52 percent of girls in grades 7 to 12 reported being sexually harassed at school. In 2011, an 11-year-old girl was gang-raped in Texas by 18 boys and men, then blamed for her own assault.
I don’t expect much from a man whose favorite word is “biiiiiitch,” but the content of this video is insensitive, archaic, demeaning, sexist, and pro-assault. It’s bad enough when this mind-set is promoted under the guise of entertainment, but as a suggestion via a father-figure as a practice for boys ages 12-15, then promoted via a respected music publication? If this isn’t a crime, it should be.
Unsurprisingly, there’s been a widespread backlash against Too $hort and XXL, including two petitions calling for the resignation of its female editor-in-chief. Short took to Twitter to offer a standard no-real-blame-taking apology to “anyone who I may have offended,” then cited his pimp alter ego as the culprit. “When I got on camera I was in $hort mode & had a lapse of judgment [sic],” he added. “I would never advise a child or young man to do these things…”
Um… except, dude, you already did.
XXL EIC Vanessa Staten offered a vague apology that allows all speakers to distance themselves from any and all personal accountability.
“There has been some recent controversy surrounding a video interview with Too $hort that posted on XXLMag.com last week,” Staten wrote. “Many readers found the tone and content of the interview to be offensive and were angered that it was allowed to post on the website.”
Is an apology from XXL and Too $hort enough to make things right?
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk