Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad” has been the topic of conversation all around the internet this week. Lauders and critics alike are leading conversations about the song which takes on the misogynistic trend in hip hop of reducing women to vulgar names and sexual objects. The rapper has stated that he released the song for the sole purpose of sparking a conversation around the term “bitch” and the role that music and music videos play in determining the interpretation and consequent performance of the word.
Lauders have praised Lupe Fiasco for everything from sparking the conversation to pointing to the fact that usage and performance of the word are generally tied to a complete lack of understanding. Critics point to a narrow reading of the problem on Lupe Fiasco’s part. Some wonder if he is giving enough agency to women, claiming that all women don’t identify as “ladies”. For Harriet founder, Kimberly Foster isn’t the only critic accusing Lupe Fiasco of “mansplaining” and replacing one type of misogyny with another. Brandon Soderberg, one of the song’s most vocal critics is ironically guilty of the same thing that he faults Lupe for doing. Others have urged Lupe to push the conversation further, to clue us all in on his personal history with the word “bitch”.
No matter which camp you find yourself in, we should give Lupe credit for opening the conversation. Isn’t it enough that he has sought to open up the conversation in a relatively innocuous (unless you’re a woman who doesn’t like to be called a lady) way? Isn’t it up to the rest of us to continue it and examine our relationships with the word “bitch”? Is Lupe’s “Bitch Bad” a first step in the right direction? When presenting complex subject matter to a person, you don’t expect to understand it all immediately.
If Lupe Fiasco was indeed attempting to open a dialogue, I hope that he reads and digests everything that his critics and praisers have to say about his opening salvo and continues to learn and adjust his position accordingly.