Is Misogyny the New ‘I Love You’?

kim_kanye_081012_400jrwKanye West’s profane paean to Kim Kardashian reflects a disturbing trend in popular culture.

The blogosphere was all abuzz this week with Kanye West’s latest musical release, “Perfect Bitch,” which he played on his laptop at the PH-D Rooftop Lounge last Saturday in New York City.

Questions have been percolating on media outlets about whether the song is about his partner in the limelight, Kim Kardashian. West, of course, took to Twitter and confirmed the speculation, tweeting, “I wrote the song Perfect Bitch about Kim,” but then later removed his message.

Kardashian, no stranger to attention, is reportedly flattered by the label, commenting that West meant “bitch” in the “nicest” possible way. That leaves the rest of us to wonder if the label of being someone’s “perfect bitch” should be a sought-after title worn with pride, like an Olympic medal for an athlete.

Which raises a question: Is misogyny the new “I love you”?

With the rise of Fifty Shades of Grey’s S&M-fueled “love story” and the backlash against Rihanna after the Chris Brown assault, we are witnessing a transformation of our social consciousness on a national scale. It seems not only acceptable for love to hurt but also permissible, à la West’s “Perfect Bitch,” for love to be a curse rather than a gift.

That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw said it best: “I want that all-consuming-can’t-live-without-you kind of love.” Essentially the type of love where your partner’s sweet whispers don’t rhyme with the word “itch,” and making a sex tape isn’t synonymous with sending a Hallmark card.

Certainly it’s not a new phenomenon in hip-hop to use derogatory or misogynistic language as terms of endearment — Biggie rhymed about “Me & My Bitch” nearly two decades ago — but what’s most alarming is that in the last few years, we’ve witnessed the conversion of misogyny into a mainstream value, and it’s being misconstrued as love and affection.

Who can forget the stream of tweets from young girls saying they would have “let Chris beat” them because he “looks so good”? Or watching Tamra from Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County allow her now ex-husband to control her every move because he was “protective” and “loving,” even when he was screaming at her and telling her that she looked like a “slut” and a “whore”?

Maybe if he’d written a song about it, calling her his “number one slut,” that would have been better — possibly even going platinum.

Everywhere we turn — from Love & Hip Hop, whose stars find solace in being one of their men’s many sexual partners, as long as they are the number one, to The Bachelor, in which women degrade one another in hopes of becoming the last bride standing — misogyny is being sold to us under the guise of competition and a good beat.

The Bachelor, which has aired for 16 seasons, is “prime-time” misogyny — women competing for love and begging for affection, then receiving roses like a “pat on the head” for losing their self-respect while attempting to win a man’s affection.

Is this the type of romance to which young girls should aspire — one in which they lay their dignity on the table in pursuit of being some person’s “number one”? Or allowing their partner to call them everything under the sun as long as the hidden meaning, buried somewhere underneath the degradation, is complimentary?

I grew up in the 1990s and nodded my head to Apache’s “Gangsta Bitch,” too, but when Queen Latifah asked us, “Who you calling a bitch?” Our answer was a resounding “Not me! Oh no, he didn’t!”

It was different then. We had a host of female rappers who made us want to be accountable for our bodies and our brains. They told us to unite, express ourselves and know that we were queens worthy of value and respect. But here we are, more than two decades later, and it seems that women have packed up their self-worth and pride along with their Cross Colours jeans and Timbs.

Not all change is good.

The ’90s may have brought us some questionable fashion choices, but the decade also managed to give women respect and appreciation, as well as a good beat. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be someone’s imperfect queen than his “perfect bitch” any day.

Originally posted at The Root.