DJ Sara Cox used to work for Radio 1, and this week she rightly criticised its decision to play music by misogynist rapper Pitbull. Pitbull, she said, “makes [her] soul weep because of the way he sings about women”. Me too, Sarah, me too.
In his No 1 song, “Timber”, he chants: “I have ‘em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off/twerking in their bras and thongs… face down, booty up.” He also sings: “She say she won’t, but I bet she will”, “I like that when you fight back”, and “Shake that s**t bitch/And be off in the club with a hard-a** d**k.” How would you feel if you caught your daughter’s boyfriend talking to her like that?
Pitbull and his miserable ilk are bad news. Depressingly, Pitbull isn’t even that vile compared to the average misogynist rapper. Rap, back in the day, was more conscious. Angry street poets spoke about oppression and called for social change. Now, it’s all bucks and bling and horrendous sexism and threats of sexual violence that’s all accepted into the mainstream as if it’s perfectly okay. You can hear Robin Thicke on commercial radio in the morning, for goodness’ sake. A little rape with your cornflakes, listeners?
The concern around sexist rap is that it encourages young men to objectify women. But my concern goes beyond that, to the young girls and women who are also buying into this tripe – and buying into it they are, otherwise this offensive nonsense wouldn’t chart, and you wouldn’t see crowds dancing along to it on nights out.
If I had a daughter and I caught her dancing to Pitbull or his peers, I’d put her in counselling. Young girls listening to this might think that it’s alright for men to talk to and about women like this. They’ll also get the impression that they need to be scantily-clad twerking machines to get attention and admiration. Forget brains, forget personality, forget intelligence. Just shut up, strip off, perform like a desperate seal and let him do what he wants.
The power here is all with the men, and young female listeners are buying into that. This ugly power-play has to stop. We need male artists to start respecting women so that female fans can stop hating themselves by playing into a misogynist ideal.