By Zak Mendez
More and more so today, aggressive behavior in men is not only excusable but is also expected. We live in a culture where violence against women and men being overtly aggressive is normalized. We may cringe upon hearing a statistic like one in six American women will be raped in their lifetime, yet we fail to realize how popular images in media continually perpetuate rape culture. It is not uncommon to see this expression of male violence throughout our society, and one figure that particularly comes to mind is critically acclaimed rapper Eminem.
Eminem has successfully built his persona and musical career around this idea of masculine aggression, with notably offensive lyrics towards women and homosexuals. For example, the song “Kim” from The Marshall Mathers LP is a graphic depiction of an imaginary killing of his real life ex-wife Kim Mathers. Though many would defend this song, claiming that it is mere fantasy, it is hard to excuse such violent imagery when we live in a culture where physical abuse and death threats by a husband or boyfriend is a reality for many women. Another example is the song “Stay Wide Awake” from the album Relapse where Eminem states “see whore your the kinda girl that I’d assault and rape and figure why not try to make your pussy wida, Fuck you with an umbrella then open it up while the shit’s inside ya.”
While Eminem’s music may not necessarily incite all of his fans to sexual violence. Lyrics like these are still problematic in they that they desensitize his audience to disturbing acts violence, particularly towards women.
It is clear that Eminem shows little respect for women in his lyrics and while he and his audience my not actually commit the acts of violence that he raps about, the ideals he presents are still perpetuated to his audience. The tough guy, women beating, gay bashing persona that Eminem embodies filters to his audience is a sort of feed back loop. Where his attitude towards violence, women and homosexuals (though perhaps not the acts themselves) is digested and emulated by his audience.
It baffles me how a man who is so openly violent and has never apologized for his representations of violence towards women and use of derogatory slurs is so critically acclaimed. Eminem is essentially the poster by for rape culture, yet not only does our culture love and idolize him, critics of music love him and nominate him for awards for albums that include songs like “Stay Wide Awake” (previously mentioned). This just goes to show that our culture does not care about or value women, and is so ingrained in rape culture that someone like Eminem can thrive and be successful.