It was in an interview with GQ Magazine last month, where Kim Kardashian West was first quoted as saying that there was a video proving that Taylor Swift had come up with the misogynistic lyric about herself, for which her husband Kanye West had been denounced. The lyric on the song Famous, "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous" was just the latest development in a rift that stretches back to the 2009 VMA awards, in which Kanye infamously interrupted Swift's acceptance speech because he thought Beyonce had deserved to win.
However, as well as this, during the interview Kim went on to defend her husband's use of the word 'bitch' to describe women. She was quoted as saying: "I mean he's called me a bitch in his songs. That's just, like, what they say. I never once think 'What a derogatory word! How dare he?' Not in a million years."
Firstly, I have to say that I am not a fan of Taylor Swift's music, questionable feminism, or her girl squad, and I have listened to The Life of Pablo many a time. However, this isn't just about Kanye West calling Taylor Swift a 'bitch'. The problem here is that Kim Kardashian, arguably one of the most influential women in the world, does not see a problem with male artists calling women 'bitches', herself included, because "that's just, like, what they say."
Imagine if Rosa Parks, the mother of the freedom movement had said "well, we don't have civil rights, but that's just, like, how it is." or if Emily Davison, the suffragette who threw herself under the King's horse in 1913, had said "well, we don't have the vote, but that's just, like, how it is." In reality, the use of the word 'bitch' is the smallest tip of the iceberg when it comes to misogyny in music. When Eminem is rapping about how he's going to brutally murder his ex-wife, it's nothing. However, it is phrases like this which help perpetuate misogyny on an industrial scale.
Misogyny in mainstream rap and hip hop is commonplace. For example, continuing with Eminem, on his Marshall Mathers LP, nine out of eighteen songs depicted killing women. The producer at the time, Dr. Dre, even said that "if I was Eminem's ex Kim, I would have ran when I heard that s***." A 2009 analysis showed that 1 in every 4.477 songs contained misogynistic themes, and, more recently, Rick Ross's verse on U.O.E.N.O literally talks about spiking a girl's drink to have sex with her.
Artists themselves are well aware of it. In Danny Brown's 2011 Outer Space he says: "Love a feminist bitch, oh, it get my d*** hard/ So no apologies for all the misogyny/ I just want your company to come and watch some porn with me", and Kanye himself has been quoted as saying "I definitely think generally rap is misogynistic." However, no one can claim this is just a problem in rap or hip hop, despite the fact that many do.
Misogyny is a thing in all types of music and has been forever. For example, the Beatles 1965 song Run For Your Life which includes lyrics such as "I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man", was written when John Lennon was actively beating his wife, Cynthia. From Sting's eighties stalking anthem I'll Be Watching You to the infamous Blurred Lines, singing about treating women badly is too big to have its own genre.
The most bizarre thing isn't that Kim Kardashian West thinks it's okay to call women 'bitches'. It's so much bigger than that. It's that this acceptance toward casual misogyny in music is the norm. I'm a feminist, yet I listen to this music, know the lyrics to this music, and still will after I've written this article. It's almost like it's the last safe place for men to abuse women and completely get away with it.
My question is, why? Why is the last place where this misogyny is so accepted, especially when we wouldn't accept it from anyone or anywhere else? Imagine if Kanye had called Swift a bitch in an interview. Imagine Eminem had written a Facebook post about slitting the throat of his wife's four year old son like in the song Kim. Or, imagine John Lennon had tweeted about killing his wife if he found her with another man.
It could be argued that it's just music, it's not real, it's a creative outlet, but the ramifications mean that it normalizes misogyny. I'm not saying don't listen to it, I'm just saying maybe we should start questioning why we're so okay with doing so.