Azealia Banks Sucks. But So Do We.
Ok I know, I know I know. I went into the Azealia Banks piece by PAPER MAG rolling my eyes, but I came out of it ALSO rolling my eyes… while also becoming a bit more enlightened. Bear with me. [BREATHE IN.]
She’s so right in that men in the entertainment industry are ALWAYS excused eventually for bad behavior, if at all possible (provided the dude isn’t a serial killer and the crime was *just* sexual assault against a woman or throwing public fits. Chew on that for a bit, because they’re pretty equal in the media’s eye.) R. Kelly raped a girl and married 15 year old Aaliyah. Dude was a rapist and potentially a pedophile. Kobe Bryant OPENLY ADMITTED HE RAPED A GIRL. Dude is the most celebrated person in sports. Kanye West is ABSOLUTELY bat-shit crazy and we write it off as “wacky old Kanye, being annoying” but dude sells millions. These are also, of course, BLACK men. Because rich white dudes? We don’t even remember their crimes. They’re not even really media-worthy. Whenever an article takes the time to provide a comprehensive list of men (black and white) convicted of sexual or physical assault who are actively celebrated within the NFL, it trends for a day… and then is promptly forgotten. Literally no one cares, outside of hyper-liberal ranters on Facebook. (?)
But of course, when young women cannot be cut and pasted into a cookie-cutter template pre-provided by the entertainment industry, or the entertainment industry cannot grasp the persona they bring to the table and make it monetizable, they’re demonized and marked with a red A until they “seek professional treatment” and publicly apologize their crimes. Their punishment is humiliation until exoneration. They’re held to a higher standard of silence and complacency than men, forever. This by no means excuses Azealia Banks’s temper tantrums or racist, homophobic fits. But I will remind you that Mel Gibson is still getting lots and lots of work. And Donald Trump is president.
So at the risk of sounding Carrie Bradshaw, how can we sit here and pretend that sexism doesn’t exist, when it’s SO. FUCKING. OBVIOUS. in entertainment––the industry that places a microscope upon societal culture, thus exemplifying mainstream society as a whole? (I went back and forth on considering the redundancy of that phrase, but think it makes sense.)
The point is women deserve a chance to make mistakes, famous or no. And Azealia Banks has said some horrible things and acted a fool. But so have I! If there was a headline created from all of my mistakes (accompanied by philosophical commentary on the type of person that *MADE* me, FOREVER) from the ages of 12-27, I’d probably be shut into a dark cave somewhere, restrained in a straight jacket and lobotomized. I have also been the worst. Repeatedly. (These mistakes have made me who I am, and blah blah blah…)
I know this may strike you as obvious. But it’s always a relevant subject to consider. Until we figure out a way to face this situation head-on, and celebrate women as much as men from the day of their conception, women will always be the Monica Lewinski and men will always be the Bill Clintons.