Suddenly, I understand Drake’s appeal.

I’ve been a pretty committed Drake hater. I would hear his radio hits and they just don’t do it for me.

I’m more of a fan of the gangster/trap style of rapping. Drake was just kind of annoying. One of my best friends is a huge Drake fan. We were in his car the other day and he kept giving me breakdowns of each Drake song to play and how it correlated with his life. He forced me to repeatedly listen to the first few seconds of Marvin’s room. Suddenly, the lyrics hit me. I’m like wow I like this.

Though I didn’t find Marvin’s room particularly relatable, it made me quite willing to listen to something else. I took to Grooveshark (which is probably one of the best things invented, js) and looked up some more of Drake’s slower R&B type jams (ew I just said jams).

Then Doing it Wrong came into my life.

Suddenly, Drake verbalized my feelings. Firstly, I felt less like a psychopath for the relationships I’ve previously ended, because like… Drake understands me bro. No, but seriously. Like can we please examine some of these lyrics.

“So cry if you need to, but I can’t stay to watch you
That’s the wrong thing to do
Touch if you need to, but I can’t stay to hold you
That’s the wrong thing to do
Talk if you need to, but I can’t stay to hear you
That’s the wrong thing to do
Cause you’ll say you love me, and I’ll end up lying
And say I love you too”

i’m pretty sure that hook encapsulates every relationship I’ve ever ended and how I felt about it.

Realizing that staying around is the wrong thing to do because it will just make matters worse. And the best lyric of life “you’ll say you love me and I’ll end up lying and say I love you too.”

I don’t know, do other people 100% relate to this song? Sometimes you realize that things just aren’t going well, but you know if you stay around you’ll be faking it and that’s not fair to the other person.

I’m currently in awe of how well Drake understand my difficulties with relationships.

So I’ve been listening to a bit more Drake lately. I even like Nothing Was The Same as an album in general. A+ Drake.

Also, the fact that I relate to this song is the very reason that NO ONE SHOULD DATE ME EVER. Because I suck at the whole relationship/feelings/not hurting people thing.

Image

this will forever be my favourite Drake picture.

Maybe in a couple years I’ll suck less and Drake will no longer hold this amount of relevance to my life. But for now, Doing it Wrong is my theme song. Interpret that as needed.

Existing while being a woman: Street harassment

my-name-is-not-hey-babyYou thought I was done my feminist-leaning rants on the struggles of the modern, average, Canadian, young woman (gee, that’s a lot of qualifiers), didn’t you? Alas, I tricked you.

My blog post today was inspired rather abruptly by a truly new experience in street harassment I fell prey to yesterday. I was speaking to the ever lovely Zineb on the phone and I saw a moving shape in my peripherals. This moving shape was none other than an inappropriately gyrating young man pretending to “hump” me from the rear. Truly delightful. I turned around and paused for a second, incredulous that he continued his pelvic thrusting after it had come to my attention. I quickly regained my senses and asked him “do you want to get kicked in the dick?” He began to snicker until I began the first motion of my kick after which he looked shocked and horrified and ran away with his friends. Sadly I did not get the chance to momentarily incapacitate him, my warning gave him a split-second advantage.

First let me remark on the fact that this young man looked generally shocked and alarmed when I nearly kicked him. Here he was making lewd sexual gestures in my direction, uncomfortably close to me, but the thought that I would retaliate was too much for his puny brain to handle. What’s up with that?

I believe his reaction is indicative of a far larger issue. The same all-encompassing issue that leads men to think it’s okay to grab women in public, to yell explicit lines from speeding cars or whisper sexual advances in an unsuspecting woman’s ear.

These actions are indicative of an undeserved but real sense of entitlement that men have towards women’s bodies. That in some screwed up way they have the “right” to make suggestive remarks or comments or physical gestures. To further elaborate, I have been cat-called in the presence of my mother but not my father. I have been cat-called when I am with female platonic friends but not male platonic friends. I have been cat-called while with my little brothers but not with my older (than me) nephew. So what can we infer from this? That men don’t cat-call in the presence of another man because they’re scared? What about the large groups of guys that pass me when I am with one single guy? What about the guys in cars when I’m walking? They have no reason to fear. No I think it’s something different. It’s the idea that when I am with an older male, I am accounted for. My presence in public is sanctioned by this male’s presence. I am “owned” already. Compare this to some cultures from the past (and today) where a woman couldn’t go out in public without a male relative or her husband. It all ties back to ownership. When I am in public alone, there is no sign of an “owner” therefore I am fair game. The rights to my integrity, my body, my identity are up in the air.

Know what all this sense of ownership and entitlement stuff sounds like? Rape culture.

So yes I am emphatically stating that cat-calling is DIRECTLY related to the culture of rape we live in.

******Closing remarks:

Men, bear in mind that sexual harassment is ILLEGAL.

And when I refer to women I’d like to specify that I mean cis, trans, non-identifying, queer, etc. etc. etc. Anybody who is outwardly identifying as female or looks like their outwardly identifying as female and therefore get harassed.

Excellent related articles/websites I’ve stumbled across:

How to talk to a lady without being a CREEP (I feel like a lot of guys should read this one)

25 acceptable responses to street harassment (hysterically funny)

This woman takes pictures of her street harassers 

Hollaback – fighting to end street harassment

Stop street harassment

Another rant about street harassment 

 

Programmed Narcissism

Lately, I’ve become painfully aware of how narcissistic people (including me) can be.

Our entire society has developed into a culture of narcissism. Everything is super customizable to fit “you.” Ads are often marketed with the purpose of allowing you to express your individuality. You can customize laptops to have a kind of pattern you want, you can have a tacky credit card with some random picture, and vanity plates, I can’t even deal with vanity plates (do you really need to have “2fast4u” on the back of your car?)

really?

really?

Social media is the ultimate narcissistic tool because we incessantly post things about our lives: statuses, pictures, videos – and even though you may say you don’t care about “likes” I don’t believe you. Maybe you’re not counting every follower on your instagram account or obsessing over each like on your facebook status but there is a certain feeling of validation, acceptance, or affirmation that comes with receiving a “like.” But why? How often do you find yourself mindlessly liking things on others’ instas or facebooks or retweeting random tweets. Do you generally take a second to absorb what they’re saying and decide whether or not you want to like it? Or do you take a glimpse at it and like it out of habit? I definitely fall into the second category and I’m sure most others do too. So why is it that a “like” makes us feel instantly more connected?

mandatory accompanying selfie

mandatory accompanying selfie

With all of this false connectedness and customizable everything, I think we are getting more and more obsessed with being “an individual” instead of a community. I didn’t join instagram to look at other people’s pictures, I joined to post my own. I scroll through my feed when I’m bored. But I only get excited when I see a little notification pop up that meant someone approves of me. I don’t get excited when I see a picture of someone else. I just mindlessly like it. And they get a little rush of excitement because someone is validating their existence. IT’S ALL SO CYCLICAL AND MUNDANE.

With all this customization and social media I’ve also noticed I’ve become more obsessed with how I look and how I present myself. We have let people have constant access to us via social media. And everything is a reflection of us. Our phone case, twitter background, ig description, pencil case, and THE SELFIE. It’s like we have suddenly become all about “showing the world who we are.” But when everyone is focused on showing their individuality in such superficial ways, no one else is taking the time to appreciate anyone else’s individuality but theirs.

The more we are given tools to “connect” with people and present “who we really are” via things and possessions, the less meaningful our friendships and our identity really become. Our social life happens more on the internet than in person. And our identity is centred on our twitter or blog or instagram rather than a deep understanding of ourselves. The superficial is becoming the meaningful and it’s kind of scary.

Did any of this make sense to you? It’s been pre-occupying me so I had to get it out. Let me know what you think!

Wildly appropriating: My thoughts on Cultural Appropriation

Hello readers of my blog! Today is the day that I first attempt to tackle the topic of cultural appropriation.

Cultural appropriation has become somewhat of a popular term this year. This phenomenon has, by definition, existed since different cultures began interacting with each other. However, accusations of cultural appropriation have become somewhat rampant this year.

So before I jump in. I will acknowledge that yes, I am Caucasian. To many people, my whiteness negates the validity of my opinion on this subject because my culture cannot be appropriated in the sense of the word commonly used today (some think that cultural appropriation is synonymous with acculturation which could apply to any culture, but I’m not dealing with that definition in this post.) A rough definition of cultural appropriation as the term has been used recently would be the inappropriate use of other culture’s symbols, traditions, etc. by someone not of that culture (very rough definition, indeed.) To be honest though, I have an opinion on the matter and whether or not my ethnicity negates it’s validity, I am still going to write about it. Mostly, accusations of cultural appropriation tend to confuse me.

I will start by saying I can COMPLETELY understand peoples’ anger around certain exhibits of cultural appropriation and similar offences. I am definitely of the opinion that “blackface” is a no and will always be a no. The fact that Johnny Depp was chosen to play Tonto in the Lone Ranger also seemed incredibly bizarre to me. Also, the white guy playing the Prince of Persia… Really? Furthermore, the “sexy” First Nations’ themed Halloween costumes are in incredibly poor taste and quite offensive.

Do you know what I do have an issue with? Being told that I can’t like certain things because I am Caucasian. This month, I have been given a list by the members of the internet of all the things i am NOT supposed to like. For example, I read last week that my love of rap music is illegitimate because I have never experienced the struggles some rappers rap about. In light of Miley Cyrus’ much criticized behaviour, I am apparently not supposed to “twerk.” My clothing choice is also supposed to be limited to prints that have not been inspired by any print coming from Africa because that is appropriation as well.

Please don’t be offended by my sarcasm. I literally have read posts on all of those things and if I was smarter I would have bookmarked them but I didn’t. If you google Cultural Appropriation though, I’m sure you could find them.

There are several reasons why these things offend me. First of all, I will listen to whatever music I want to listen to. Since I first discovered music aside from my parents’ funk and disco collections, I fell in love with rap. My friends mostly listened to rap back then and most of my friends now do too. Do you know what else? I don’t think any of my friends black or white have gone through the struggles of some American rappers who grew up in places like Compton and the South Side of Chicago. I live in Canada, it’s pretty struggle free for most of us. Does that mean that no Canadian can like american gangster rap? I’m not sure. I’m confused on that one.

As for the twerking. Yes I can twerk, I do twerk and I can tweak well. If you want proof ask one of my friends I have gone clubbing with. They will attest to it because no I will not show anyone because I don’t do that kind of thing anymore. WHY CAN’T I TWERK? I’m seriously baffled by this one. A style of dance is now appropriating. What about salsa? Can I not salsa?

Finally, the “African Print” thing. My Nigerian step-mum suggested she get a traditional outfit made for me which I’m sure will feature something you could call an “African Print” and I love the idea. Know what I don’t love? Realizing that someone somewhere could see me wearing it and scream cultural appropriation at the top of their lungs and hunt me down.

See, all ranting aside, sometimes it appears to me that anything that involves incorporating other cultures is suddenly deemed unacceptable cultural appropriation. I am never sure where the line of acceptable multiculturalism and unacceptable appropriation lies.  I’m aware that people who talk about cultural appropriation are usually doing us a service, bringing our attention to ways we may not be aware we’re being offensive. But sometimes I just feel like I can’t enjoy anything that doesn’t come from my own culture. And that seems weirdly segregate-y to me. So yes I will continue to be against sexy Native American Halloween costumes and shake my head at “blackface.” But I will also continue to listen to rap music and twerk in front of my mirror. And yes I really hope I get to wear a traditional Nigerian outfit out somewhere, ignorant of my wild cultural appropriation by virtue of my music preferences, dance abilities, and interracial family.

Am I the only one who feels like this? Tell me your opinion please and thank you.

Can feminists stop being such jerks to other feminists?

I’m starting to get really fed-up with the greater community of feminists I find myself a part of. The ones who follow feminist websites, make social commentary, speak up about gender inequality, and so much more awesomeness!

As a young woman who considers myself a feminist, it’s hard not to feel encouraged when you realize there is a worldwide community of other women who care about women’s rights, gender roles, gender inequality, and rape culture. I can find all of the discourse on these issues I’ve been missing in my social milieu (the only people I discuss this stuff with are my best friend Zineb, my boyfriend and my dad) right here on the interweb!

Image

Agree or disagree with the point of this cartoon, makes you think, huh?

Do you know what is incredibly DISCOURAGING? Seeing this worldwide community of feminists constantly criticizing each other for “doing feminism wrong.” My rant today was inspired by this article on Jezebel which really disappointed me. The article in question was chastising Miley Cyrus for declaring that she is “[…] one of the biggest feminists in the world.” Their reason for negating this statement is her apparent use of cultural appropriation (click for a wikipedia definition) in her music videos and media presence. Miley has been receiving a lot of hell lately for “appropriating” black culture with her music, her twerking, and her use of black people in her music videos and stage shows. (Stay tuned for an upcoming post on cultural appropriation.) I can see how you can interpret her actions as cultural appropriation. Okay, fine. But are we really going to call her a bad feminist for that? What does that have to do with feminism? Most importantly, her self -identifying as a feminist.

Miley said about her own brand of feminism: “There’s absolutely no contradiction at all between being a feminist and taking your clothes off and being comfortable about displaying your sexuality.” Miley (even though I don’t particularly like her) does make an important point. Miley seems like she’s all about owning your sexuality and being comfortable with it – something most feminists agree is important. Let’s chill about about denying her way of doing feminism.

Similarly in my own life, I find myself bombarded with ways I’m a “bad feminist” :

I want to get married (click for an article on why that makes me a bad feminist).  I listen to rap music. I dress up in little dresses and wear heels to go clubbing. I wear make-up. If it is financially possible, I want to stay home with my kids for the first few years of their lives.

All of these things have been dubbed by some feminist writer or another BAD things for feminists to do. It’s so tiring. Isn’t feminism an important enough cause that we should want all the help we can get? Or do we really have to leave out a whole host of feminists because they’re “doing it wrong?”

Existing while being a woman: Attempting (and failing) to reconcile my love for Rap music and feminism

If you have read my blog or have know me in real life you are probably aware that I consider myself a feminist.

Something i’ve always struggled with is reconciling my taste in music with my feminist awareness. If you read my previous post on my favourite songs of the last couple years, a lot of them are of the “rap” music variety. Classified further into the “trap music” and “gangster rap” varieties.

If you are not familiar with rap music (if this is the case, how are we acquainted?) then I will let you know that most rap songs aren’t usually prime examples of feminist music. They actually are better classified as some of the most misogynistic music out there. Calling women b*tches and other derogatory terminology, referring to them purely as objects of sexual desire, even the occasional blasé reference to sexual assault. Yep, Rap music is part of the culture of rape that I constantly refer to. And yes by listening to rap music and spending my money on their albums I am in fact complicit in the proliferation of rape culture through music.

403686

I constantly try to spin it in a way that eases my conscious like: “Jayceon respects women in real life and his love songs are his TRUE feelings.” or “You need to be like that to be popular in the rap industry.” But really it’s undeniable that there are no excuses for listening to and implicitly supporting this kind of music that is so clearly anti-feminist.
So I’m working on supporting more female recording artists, but there is still the whole problem of listening to misogynistic rap music. To be honest, I don’t know what I am going to do about it. Currently I can’t imagine not listening to Chief Keef and the Game. (Sidenote:  I also like rappers such as Black Milk, Slum Village, Lords of the Underground, I think I have well-rounded rap taste.) Right now I will be content on crusading against misogyny in every other area of my life while being slightly hypocritical in this area. Hopefully in the future, this hypocrisy won’t be necessary because rappers will have moved on from being misogynistic a-holes in their music.

Further more, I usually don’t pay much attention to female artists. My best friend Zineb and I were discussing how most of our favourite musical artists are male. So we both have started listening to more female artists. I have discovered my love for female rapper Angel Haze and R&B singer Elle Varner. But I am still on the search for more female artists I can fall in love with. I want to support female recording artists as much as I support their male counterparts.

Until then, the struggle continues.

My 2012/2013 ultimate music round-up

I am a young adult and as most young adults I love music. My taste in music hasn’t evolved much since I was first allowed to choose what I listened to (about grade 7 if you must know.) I usually listen to rap (usually of the “gangster” variety), dancehall, some pop-ish stuff, some electric-sounding stuff which I am not sure how to classify, and classic rock. I also enjoy classical music but I prefer to listen live (I’m sometimes snobby.)

Since the years 2012 and 2013 have kind of blended together in my memory, this music round-up will include both years.

Without further ado, here are my top songs from the past two years!

From 2013:

Almost every artist I mentioned. Sorry to Konshens, Donnis, Rick Ross, Azealia Banks and Booba for not making it.

Almost every artist I mentioned. Sorry to Konshens, Donnis, Rick Ross, Azealia Banks and Booba for not making it.

Shabba – A$AP Ferg – I LOVED Trap Lord as an album and this was my favourite part of it. Useful for making you feel like Shabba Ranks in a pinch.

No Bueno – Angel Haze – Angel Haze is perfect. She features a fair amount on this list. This song is perfect. As usual. Just trust me.

Work B*tch – Britney Spears – Brtiney Is a queen and we are all her loyal subjects. This is probably my favourite Britney song since she had her highly publicized breakdown (poor girl.) It makes me want to dance and party and most importantly work my a** off so I can be as amazing as BritBrit.

F*ckwithmeyouknowigotit – Jay-Z and Ricky Rozay (Rick Ross fyi) – Another song completely that makes me feel like a gangster when I am in fact, not one. I liked all of MCHG. Didn’t quite get it the day it was released, I think I managed the day after.

Don’t Hold the Wall – Justin Timberlake – Out of all the songs on his album, this is the most memorable to me because it makes me want to dance the most. I’m really digging the whole vibe JT went with on the album. Classy.

YEEZUS IN GENERAL. Yeezus was hands down my favourite rap/hip-hop album of the year. He’s amazing. I can hardly choose my favourites but if I had to I’d say my top songs from Yeezus are Bound 2 and Send it Up.

Double Bubble Trouble – M.I.A. – I love M.I.A.’s new stuff. It’s rap/electronic stuff. It’s super cool. I like the “drops” (is that what they’re called?) Like the part where the electronic-y stuff starts.

From 2012:

212 – Azealia Banks – I LOVE Azealia Banks. I have a total girl crush on her. She has an attitude, she doesn’t care, she starts random beef with all these female rappers. This song was MY SONG for my first year of university.

New York – Angel Haze – Angel Haze can do no wrong in my eyes. She is beautiful and funny and interesting and intelligent and perfect. Okay? This song is a total bad b*tch in charge song.

Chi (Need to Know) – Angel Haze – I must resist putting every Angel Haze song ever on this playlist. But I LOVE this one. As a love song it’s beautiful and I can totally relate. It makes me happy.

Caramel – Booba – If you’re English you may not have heard this song. Booba is a French rapper with really poor taste in names that sound cool.* This song is pretty much your standard: I have lots of money and women and I’m cool rap song. But in French. 10/10 especially if you speak French and understand what he’s saying.

Hobby – Chief Keef – Confession time: I’m obsessed with Chief Keef. Anything he touches is GOLD to me. He is perfect. Yeah, I’m aware that I should be somewhat ashamed of this opinion. Hobby is probably one of my favourite Chief Keef songs so far. Especially ’cause he mentions his penchant for Maseratis (“[…]And I don’t like you neither, but I like Maseratis”) and I love Maseratis.

Hello Kitty – Donnis – Shoutout to a less known artist I stumbled upon. Not exactly the most intellectually-stimulating song. But it’s catchy and FUN FACT: I skyped Donnis once. Because I tweeted him. And he followed me. And we became best friends. Then we Skyped and it wasn’t as magical as I expected but we did have a decent conversation. #Shoutouttomyhomie

EVERYTHING THE GAME RELEASED ON JESUS PIECE! The Game is my favourite rapper. Specifically I loved All that (a pretty cute love song that makes me blush even though it’s not directed at me in any way) and Ali Bomaye (Makes me feel like a gangster.)

Gal a Bubble – Konshens – My favourite dancehall song of 2012. Konshens also has an adorable instagram. I still have to dance every time I hear this song.

*DId you know that during the plague, the term “booba” referred to a common symptom: swollen cyst-like things, under the arms? Sexy.