Amid the excitement following the birth of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s baby girl, Blue Ivy Carter, came the announcement that Jay-Z would no longer be using the word b—h in honor of his new daughter.
The announcement was met with a positive media storm and a discussion of the impact such prevalent derogatory terms had on females.
Unfortunately, Jay-Z made no such proclamation.
Originally, this editorial was going to be a discussion about Jay-Z’s late-blooming maturity. We would have said “good job” for eliminating one degrading word, but what about the rest? And why did Jay-Z not feel a similar burst of equality upon marrying one of the strongest females in the music industry?
Given Jay-Z’s personal denial of the story in the New York Daily News, however, the aforementioned comments are somewhat off-base.
Instead, we can now comment on a 42-year-old husband and father who apparently finds it appropriate to refer to women in objectifying and demeaning terms.
Jay-Z is not the only male role model with such poor choice of subject matter.
Eminem, a paradigm of violent and degrading lyrics involving women, has repeatedly told the media that his word choice is no reflection on his personal views or relationships.
Somehow, that doesn’t make it any better.
It’s tempting to contrast Eminem and Jay-Z because the former has a publicly strained relationship with his ex-wife while the new father has a seemingly positive relationship with wife Beyonce, but that would be missing the point.
It doesn’t matter how great Jay-Z and Beyonce’s relationship is when he tells listeners to “get your own dog/that’s my b—h.”
And it doesn’t matter how terrible things were between Eminem and his ex-wife. It is never acceptable to say “Sit down b—-/If you move again I’ll beat the s–t out of you.”
While we are a news organization and in full support of the right to free speech, it is never inappropriate to ask that role models who have such an influence on the minds of America’s youth, especially young men, consider the impact of their words.
Real men don’t have to degrade women to feel strong. A self-confident, strong individual would never resort to violence to express his frustration.
Even if Jay-Z and Eminem have never personally objectified or hit a woman, they have done just as much damage by allowing a message of hatred to disseminate through the Top-20 charts.
As long as there is a constant message spread by the men society has deemed “cool” that it is OK to treat women like sexual objects, men and women will never be able to truly respect each other.
Without respect, little else in life works.
Perhaps Jay-Z should think about how he would feel if a young man addressed Blue with lyrics from his own songs.
Not much would have changed if Jay-Z had taken a stand against the b-word, but maybe one young admirer would have recognized the message of respect Jay-Z was sending.
Female artists do not escape censure, either. Women can be the most insidious force against gender equality.
Men must realize they have worth outside of that created by pushing women down. Relationships based on equality far surpass the empty sex promoted by modern music. This is the message we should encourage our artists to promote in all their creative ways.
It is listeners who decide what music makes it to the top of the charts. We are all culpable when it comes to the culture we promote.