The Music of Masculinity

black cassette tape on top of red and yellow surface
Photo by Stas Knop on

When I started this site in 2018, I was fully aware of how little the world felt it needed another white male sharing his thoughts on the news of the day. Certain public figures even went so far as to say that they weren’t interested in hearing what a white writer had to say about a particular “black” film or album, because their viewpoint is immaterial to the discussion. Telling someone that their opinion isn’t valid based on anything other than intellectual grounds should be unacceptable, but it’s become as de rigeur in American society as delivering a hot take on Twitter without having any of the requisite facts to back it up.

The fact that Kendrick Lamar and I are the product of two completely different cultural, spiritual, and socio-economic environments shouldn’t imply that I’m unable to articulate the genius of “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Great art is great art regardless of origin and it’s entirely possible to find a shared sense of humanity with someone who doesn’t look like you. Lamar strives to be a positive role model for young black males, but couldn’t he also be a source of positivity for males in general?

Toxic masculinity is killing the industry right now and Lamar has been at the forefront of speaking out against it using music. If more artists with his platform followed suit, perhaps we’d be on the road to recovery as a gender.

Instead, we’re sitting here talking about how Ryan Adams is the latest “tortured, white artist” to be accused of abusing women whose desire to be taken seriously in a patriarchal business was taken advantage of. Men have been hiding behind the cloak of artistic eccentricity for far too long, and, by now, nobody should still find that sort of existence charming.

It’s almost as if the guys who claim to have such profound insight into the female psyche via their lyrical content know the least about how to truly respect women for who they are. With great insecurity comes a great inability to relate to them as anything other than as a means to an end, but the reality is that being able to sing or play an instrument well doesn’t give you a license to treat women like shit, plain and simple.

Mike Pence would tell you that the answer is to never be alone in a room with a woman again, but such idiocy suggests that men aren’t capable of exercising self-control. The real answer is that men need to grow the fuck up already and stop blaming others for their own behavior.

If any young, impressionable women are reading this, please remember that not all men are like that. Remember to avoid letting what feels like an epidemic of masculine misbehavior infect how you approach the rest of your dating life. And, most of all, remember that you deserve to be in a relationship predicated on mutual respect rather than the need to accept a guy’s misogynistic tendencies as part of the deal.

But, again, this is just another white guy’s assessment…







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