Daughters Aren't Reparations For Misogyny
Earlier this month, Kanye West released his eighth solo LP entitled "Ye." The G.O.O.D. Music/ Def Jam rapper is known for making headlines, but he seems to have really taken his antics up a notch in the past few months. After returning to Twitter, Kanye fired a number of tweets expressing his support for his "brother," president Donald J. Trump, "Make America Great Again" merchandise, and free thought. The chaos only climaxed after he, while making an appearance on TMZ , called slavery a "choice." Sitting with Charlamagne Tha God for a 105 minute interview, West attempted to clear things up, but it appeared to be too late. Fans and haters alike called for a boycott of his album to show West that his actions would have consequences.
Kanye West's behavior, though concerning, piqued my interest and I decided to listen to the project when it released. As an avid admirer of Kanye's musical genius, I just had to know what kind of music he could make while wearing a MAGA hat. The album, however, pleasantly surprised me. I was expecting nonsense similar to his single, "Lift Yourself," which could only be described as trolling, but instead found a Yeezy I was not expecting. On "Ye," in true Kanye-fashion, he shrugs at the mess he has made, but also expresses a degree of vulnerability - having suicidal thoughts, discussing his mental health, and opening up a bit about his marriage. He presents the same level of narcissism, only it is complicated by obvious mental health issues. He seems broken, but the fact that he admits this brokenness is a different approach than he usually takes. The song with the most sentimentality was "Violent Crimes," the last song on the album - dedicated to his 5-year-old daughter, North West.
"N*ggas is savage, n*ggas is monsters/ N*ggas is pimps, n*ggas is players/ 'Til n*ggas have daughters, now they precatious/ Father, forgive me, I'm scared of the karma/ 'Cause now I see women as somethin' to nurture/ Not something' to conquer," he raps in his opening verse. He continues by speaking on protecting his daughter and praying that North's teenage body is not shaped like her mother's because "n*ggas is nuts." He foresees that if she does, people will comment online and she will find herself going down a bad path. In this future scenario, Kanye is warning North and attempting to stop her from being with a man that beats her, but wonders, "how you the devil rebukin' the sin?" In this song, Kanye is clearly admitting to fault in the past where he only saw women as something to conquer, and is attempting to fix these mistakes by raising his daughter in a way that will protect her. This however, has less to do with his belief that women ought to be respected and more to do with fear.
Research has proven that having daughters changes men's attitude toward gender. As opposed to the birth of a son, after the birth of a daughter, men adopt more progressive gender ideologies. This shift in ideology can, for example, influence male legislators to vote in support of women's issues like reproductive rights. This would suggest that by having a daughter, men become more sympathetic to gender inequality and move away from more traditional attitudes about gender. Kanye's sentiment in "Violent Crimes" aligns with the trend of men seeing things differently after they father daughters. It can be argued that men indirectly benefit from gender equality when it directly benefits their daughters, but that could easily be argued for all other women in their life.
Kanye was raised and managed by his mother, Dr. Donda West, and though he has no sisters, he undoubtedly has grandmothers, aunts, female cousins, friends, teachers, co-workers, girlfriends, and is married to a woman. Turning 41 years-old a week after his project was released proves that he's had countless relationships and interactions with women. He's had 4 decades to see women as something to nurture. Ample time to wish equality for them and indirectly benefit from it. Kanye has continuously come under fire for his misogynystic behavior - slut-shaming ex-girlfriend Amber Rose, baiting Taylor Swift for the sake of his art, rapping questionable lyrics regarding women (including his wife), and coming out in support of Bill Cosby - to name a few. These particular acts of misogyny occurred even after West's first daughter was born. This recent revelation could've been influenced by the birth of his second daughter, Chicago, but only makes fear more plausible as the reason for his statement. Fear that as his two daughters mature, they will be subject to mistreatment at the hands of other men similarly to the way he has perhaps mistreated women.
Daughters, however, should not serve as reparations for their father's history of misogyny. Men should not decide all women should be treated fairly because they are afraid a women they've created will suffer the same fate. Making good on his relationship with his daughters to atone for his past mistakes is not the answer. Acknowledging the humanity of his mother, his female friends and family members, or even the random women he sees on the street, in the first place, is. Mr. West definitely wants to send a message in his song, but he hasn't found the right words quite yet. By failing to see the vulnerability of the other women in his life, Kanye's attitude, though seemingly enlightened, falls short.