Tuesday, April 7, 2009

That Old Objectification Song

I was on Twitter last night minding my own business when one of the musicians I follow suggested another person to follow. I was curious who the person was so I checked his profile. I use TweetDeck which is a 3rd party application that separates messages and opens a larger window that the official Twitter webpage for your account. So the first thing I noticed was his profile picture that showed him wearing a t-shirt with a large rear end encased in a thong. Had the photo not been so large I probably wouldn't have noticed from a quick glance. Then I looked at the last few messages he'd sent and they were peppered with "nigga" and "no homo". To say I was offended would be an understatement. I sent the musician a reply saying I wouldn't want to follow someone when I have to dig through all of that. I guess the guy is supposed to be a really good rapper. Yeah....whatever!

So this musician is in a famous hip-hop band and they don't usually embrace any such foolishness in their music - but he is a man and I can see where another man would be dismissive of such things. Which is why the constant degradation that passes for music nowadays is especially troubling. He usually sends messages related to projects he's working on or who he hangs out with and I consider it a fun distraction. He doesn't often respond to non-celebs or people he doesn't know so I was very surprised when I got this response - that he tried to get me to follow his friend but that I "didn't like being objectified as a woman or black person." 

I admit I felt a slight thrill that this famous musician replied to me directly but of course the larger issue was that he understood exactly where I was coming from. Then I started getting a flood of alerts that I had nearly two dozen new followers and Twitter went down for a few minutes. I got caught up in a flurry of messages and hadn't seen the response from the guy I didn't want to follow for at least an hour later.

"So you gon let a few niggas and a picture of some ass keep you from me, booboo? *le sigh*"

I was surprised he even cared quite frankly but thought this could be one of those teachable moments. Why is it that a Black man thinks it's appropriate to speak to a Black woman this way? Here's some excerpts from our conversation:

Me: You opened a good dialog. Why don't u consider moving beyond those things instead of expecting others to tolerate them?

Him: Moving "beyond" what exactly? Using the word "nigga" and wearin a big ass on my t-shirt?

Me: YES & don't forget using No Homo. LGBT advocates consider it offensive/homophobic. Is that all who u are cuz it's what u show! 

Him: If u really think you can gather a man's whole existence from a fuckin 140 character RSS feed, then thats a personal issue. 

Me: 1st impressions speak volumes! U chose to put that out there u can't selectively say ignore 1 thing for the rest. As a female I can't police u or any male. I stated what offended me, you talked to me and we'll agree to disagree. 

Him: If that's all YOU see from Black people, then maybe YOU need to look elsewhere. Hugh Madson? 

Me: Finally it's not about "me" it's about accepting mediocrity as a standard. I'm not emotionally invested, thought it was good to clear the air. Thanks. 

Him: If your first impression of me is that I'm a heterosexual nigga who loves big asses, I'd say that's pretty accurate. Peace.

Now somebody explain to me why I'd choose to engage this person at all! 

Why do (some) black people make excuses for degradation? Not that other groups don't but these situations manifest themselves different by group/gender/class. You know, the usual. This almost wants to make me break out the "f" word -  feminist. I think Black womanhood and virtue are at stake here. It's so much bigger than this one exchange. If I had to base my evaluation of all black men on this one guy I'd never want to have anything to do with ya'll again, lol!! I can't police people and I can't hold a litmus test and collect the innermost thoughts of people either. We have to work with racist/sexist people who are ageist and appearance based or whatever but there's a difference when people decide to not temper their behavior for a universal audience. Twitter is a public forum unless you use a protected account or send a direct message anyone can read your message stream. 

That may not be all there is to that person but it's a strong enough indication to me that our standards don't mesh. There's a difference between the use of Negro, Nigga and Nigger. So this guy's outside talents reveal a rather blatant lack of respect that is certainly not unique to him, but it's the general acceptance of it by an ever-increasing majority that concerns me.  I can't imagine wanting to have that type of influence that follows such train of thought in my life. There's a missing spiritual component. I see the worldliness that drags down the souls of the other person (me) not elevating the later (him). There's the patriarchal arrogance of assumption that I should lower my standards to meet him at his level. That's when (and why) he began to get billigerant with me. 

So many of us are one step from the ledge and we don't even see it. Now I'm no expert on race relations, gender issues or men. I loathe to try to introduce specific religious dogma into these conversations but I'm finding it difficult to see the existence of a set of values. Others are able to navigate their way through life much better than I. The Def Con Level One scenario are those people who wallow in their ignorance and those that seek to exploit others. In the year 2009 I can't believe I have to explain to a grown man why seeing his profile photo of him wearing a t-shirt with a woman's naked butt in a thong is offensive to me. People aren't stupid, they're willfully obstinate in objectification and lacking decorum. 

I also had a simultaneous exchange with one other man who'd said he'd never heard the term LGBT. He's a minister living in a major city and looked to be under 50. How do I begin to process the ramifications of such isolation from news of a major social/political movement? Yet another male protectionist tried to school me on what the term "no homo" really means. If the use of a non-sequitur like that is meaningless then common sense should tell you there's something wrong with saying emphatically that you aren't something and why denying it so profusely indicates a break from the norm. 

These situations just reminds me how we must always be on the lookout and guarding our values and sensibilities lest they be chipped away to nothing by those who don't have (m)any.

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