XXL magazine Editor in Chief Vanessa Satten being held responsible for allowing a video of Rapper Too Short "schooling" young boys on how to turn a girl out, has earned just scrutiny in the public eye. However, what is more disturbing to me is that I have not seen a call to action to challenge Too Short. Where is the equivalent of the scale of the Chris Brown response for Too Short? Whereas I do not think all portions of Chris Brown's scrutiny is helpful to a journey of reform, Too Short's video is not nearly receiving as much attention.
AllStarHipHop conducted an exclusive interview with Too Short a few days ago which ironically, inadvertently advances denial rhetoric. To understand how the article further harms perceptions, the rhetoric needs to be vetted to show how Too Short continued to absolve himself of responsibility and further boast of his perceptions.
For starters, the interview only touches upon the video to get to a place of promoting Too Short's album. Let us examine blow by blow exactly what the rhetoric presented in the interview really does to the issue at hand, which is how Too Short condoned and solicited a call to action for the rape of young girls by male peers.
Point: The interview starts with the mention that Too Short has had a rough "couple of weeks" because of the XXL video.
Rhetoric: The entire controversy is suggested to be a burden to Too Short and not the subjects of his video. Opening the interview in this way sets up Too Short as a victim and not a perpetrator. Too Short details how to violate the dignity of a being and yet the audience is set up to feel sorry for him being in the spotlight for it.
Point: Too Short harps on the victim narrative set up for him by citing that he thought the interview was a joke. Right after this admission, the rapper admonishes XXL for only releasing part of the interview because the real important portions of the interview were about his album, which XXL did not publish. The rapper went on to talk about how he was "being nostalgic", playing "Hide and Go Get it." Too boot, the rapper goes on to suggest that he did not know what he did as a child was wrong because girls never told him that it was traumatizing.
Rhetoric: Too Short implies that he is not remorseful regarding his video and is more upset that XXL failed to publish the full interview. For this man to boast of a history of mind manipulation techniques stemming from childhood and that he is nostalgic about it eons later in adulthood shows how much he holds his philosophies in high regard. To top it off, Too Short suggests his actions are okay because to boys, assault on a female is no big deal because they do not think about girls being traumatized. This rhetoric perpetuates a major victim-blaming narrative that "boys will be boys" but girls must keep them in line for them to know that they are wrong. What is striking is that if you think about it, even as a boy, Too Short would know that to "tag ass" on another boy would be unaccepted and at the least disrespectful. Short's word play continues as he referred to being "schooled" by a woman, on something he says he was not aware of, however, earlier in the interview he is quoted as saying "I am actually a very knowledgeable brother..." Yet, in that same response, Short was quoted as needing "that education" from Dream Hampton because he would have further thought of directing rape as a joke, along with my favorite remark of "even with my music filled with misogyny, I still have morals." The word dance here is just too obvious. Short is actually acknowledging that he consciously exploits misogyny. Short also mentions that he wants to reverse "bad energy" from his actions. Short talks as if him promoting hatred of women is intangible and not a conscious move to condone, support, dictate and direct men to violate a gender while they bump his base track.
Point: The interview is done by a male that makes a comment to pinpoint that even though Too Short has championed misogyny throughout his career, he has not actually advocated for sexual assault. Short responds by acknowledging how interviews have never took him to task on his lyrics, just only highlighted his process for making records and gain within the industry.
Rhetoric: The comment and Short's response discreetly condones misogyny because explicit calls to action to rape have never been recorded. If that is not scathing enough, Short further shows his pride by saying he "tried to have fun with it" but how it was presented was the problem, not what he said.
This train-wreck of an interview ends with the suggestion that Dream Hampton is the carrier of forgiveness on behalf of all females, as if somehow if she forgave him, all should be well. As if the thinly veiled misogyny is not obvious enough throughout the interview, Short suggests that he can "help" in any way he can by doing community service, if he can find time.
We need to be able to have conversations about what Too Short's and XXL magazine's actions perpetuate in our society, but not without rejecting smoke-screen rhetoric. Violence Against Women (VAW) continues to destroy the fabric of our society and men must step up and stop scapegoating women to save themselves.
Here is a challenge, men: Step up and journey to un-learn all of what you think is cool about what is really VAW from places like Men Can Stop Rape, people like Jackson Katz and films like Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. It is never too late to start, only shameful if you choose not to.
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