Know Yourself and Know Your Feminism

Know Yourself and Know Your Feminism

I don’t often describe myself as basic. But based on the fact that I’m a white girl who spent most of her college career requesting Drake songs at sorority formals, I have had my fair share of basic moments. Drake is what I call “white-girl rap”- meaning it’s palatable to a broad audience; his background as wheelchair Jimmy makes him non-threatening, and his brand is bars best suited for instagram captions of a girls’ night out. I don’t think there’s anything wrong about this per se. He found a market and he worked it. But no worries, Drake’s obsession with branding will come up again later in this thinkpiece no one asked for. Now, I took a break from my Drake obsession following the Rihanna break-up when Drake wasn’t his best self. But as of this morning he’s caught my eye again with a stunt he pulled at a show in Sydney last Tuesday.

Drake called out a man who he witnessed groping girls who were presumably just trying to enjoy some Drizzy on a Tuesday night. If you don’t want to watch the video all you need to know is Drake took a break from “Know Yourself” to call out “If you don’t stop touching girls, I’m gonna come out there and fuck you up, bruh… I’m not playing with you. If you don’t stop putting your hands on girls, I’m gonna come out there and fuck your ass up.” I’ll start with the positives of this moment, the surface reasons people are hyped that Drake took this moment. So often the world isn’t safe for those of us who aren’t cis, white, straight bros. We all deserve to go to concerts, bars, and wherever else we want without being touched and objectified. We shouldn’t have to clarify this, but here we are. To some extent, Drake did show that his performances are a space where this is not tolerated. That’s the upside.

“Think about what the norm is for live music next time you’re at a show and think of how you can change it.”

But this is 2017 and I trust no man. First, let’s talk about how Drake chose to confront this man. By threatening to “come out there and fuck his ass up,” Drake is just fighting toxic masculinity with toxic masculinity. Rather than making his confrontation about the women and their right to enjoy live music, he chose to make it about his ability to physically fight the threatening man. And the damsel in distress motif is a bit tired by now. Look at the imagery of the video clip. He stands above the crowd, batting away others while cameras flash below. He’s seen as powerful while he confronts his fellow man with his respect for women as his weapon. Don’t make a feminist issue about your “nice guy” complex, Aubrey. Drake’s response is better than ignoring the situation, but he could’ve done a lot better.

Now back to Drake’s obsession with branding. Recently, Drake has presented this image of what I’ll call “boyfriend material”. He’s sensitive, he wears sweaters, he loves his mom. And while I do think that Drake legit loves his mom, I think he makes a lot of choices because he knows he’ll get social media attention by playing this part. The cynical part of me thinks it’s a little too coincidental that this stunt happened after the Weinstein, C.K., etc. scandals. In a time when media giants are on trial, Drake stands as a pillar of safety. Drake always knows he’s on camera. So was this a ploy to pander to his female fans? Or was it legit a moment of concern? Probably a little of both. I see so many celebrities who wear their feminism as an accessory, but then don’t back it up. Also, Drake doesn’t deserve to be labeled as #goals for being a decent human being at his performances. Human rights isn’t a goal, it’s a necessity.

In summary, maybe I’m ready to forgive Drake. It’s good that Drake did something to make his shows safer, but it would have been great if it wasn’t about his own brand of masculinity. We can be happy Drake did this without having a field day because there are plenty of advocates doing more. And in case any of you reading this need a reminder, don’t grope women at shows. If you see someone being harassed, say something, and let’s hold men to a higher standard than we have been.

I also want to turn this conversation on the quiet power of female artists. This event and Drake received press because we are still shocked when men treat women with respect. The fact that a male rapper acknowledged the female experience of his fans is enough to break headlines. A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend about how Molly Rankin, the singer for indie group Alvvays, dodged a fan who rushed the stage and attempted to kiss her. My friend said it was fucked, but that she was a beautiful women. This interaction stands in stark contrast to my feelings on this Drake story. He’s a tough guy for defending his fan from the stage, he interrupted his own performance. Rankin had her set interupted, and still the conversation is about her beauty. Unfortunately, her experience is not unique. This moment for Drake was. Think about what the norm is for live music next time you’re at a show and think of how you can change it.