Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The "First Lady" is still after the last man

This is something I should have mentioned in a previous post when I was addressing my problems with dancehall artistes but it’s just as well as this is an issue that is present in other genres of music- typically urban male-dominated ones where hyper masculinity and bravado are celebrated. The topic of this post is the phenomenon of “The First Lady” in a crew or group of musicians. It’s a title that is supposedly to inspire thoughts and feelings of royalty and garner respect but I see it as a ploy to keep women out of real positions of dominance, to quell any real chances of a takeover or of there being a level playing field.

There’s the saying, if you can’t beat them, join them. Men in the music industry have remixed that and turned it to “To ensure we don’t have to beat them, include and insulate them.” Once a crew had a First Lady, that’s usually it- no more ladies are welcome unless she drops out. They make it seem like such a privilege to be deemed the first lady of their prestigious crew that the women given these titles don’t even realize the competitive and cantankerous attitudes that this practice fosters within the women themselves. Or maybe they realize and they just don’t give a damn. I get it, it’s hard to make it in dancehall and hip hop for a woman and any advantage that an aspiring female star can get, she’s likely to take especially if she has been working hard for long with no significant results. But is every helping hand offered to you THAT helpful in the long run, ladies?

It seems to me that it is a requirement that being the “queen” or “princess” in a crew of males means that one has to now operate with an attitude of exclusivity and behave sourly towards other females. Unless, of course, another female is a rising or already established star and playing nice for the chance at collaboration would suit one’s career at the time. What gets me is seeing women collaborate on a song or two and then turn around and rip each other apart or start some ridiculous feud that is fueled by egos. The really funny part about most of these feuds is that the warring females are usually very similar. But they are so determined to be seen as the one and only or the “baddest gyal/bitch” that they feel the only way to accomplish that is to ensure that they are the only one left standing. How can you be the best but be afraid of challengers? Even though I said they have competitive attitudes, most of these women are really afraid of actual competition. They don’t see another successful female as inspiration to do better; they see her as a threat that needs to be eliminated. The only time I hear them speak kindly of another successful woman is if she is a veteran in comparison or if she is in another genre of music, thereby, making her no real competition. Once that female is seen as a possible deterrent against some desired goal, she is seen as a target and slandered on and off record.

It’s something that saddens, annoys and bores me all at the same time. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised- when your career and, we can only assume life (since so many of you are “speaking based on where I’m at in my life right now”) are based on getting/stealing and keeping a man by the virtue of your “tightness” or “boss head game”, I cannot expect that you would know what to do to truly further yourself outside of the bedrooms.

And to add insult to injury, these men still give their male colleagues more favour than any of you. You are recruited when they need a female to meet their quota or to do a hook. You are still paid less than them and your songs are played less than theirs. Are they fighting for you when you go to war with these women? Or are they sitting back, boosting you to act like an idiot and laughing at the fact that you are allowing such simple things to distract you from your career goals. These same men make songs perpetuating the attitude that you are less than them- they glorify having women fight over them (they often times encourage it), speak of how they have you all in bungles as if you are fruit and brainwash you into thinking that your greatest and only worthy asset is your sex game. AND YOU FALL FOR IT! Seriously, open your eyes and you minds, ladies.

This may sound like I am putting down females and that is not my intention but I think many female artists need a reality check and need some changes made to their attitudes and careers. If you want to be a lone wolf, that’s fine but don’t go biting or snarling at any other female wolves who are, like you, just trying to be successful. Stop being pawns.  Having a clash is fine and well but these are not clashes, let’s not kid ourselves. And if you are too sensitive to handle a clash, do not get pushed into doing one. I get that men can go at each other all the time and it is deemed par for the course but the reason for that is that they USUALLY have these "beefs" musically and that's where it ends. It also usually helps to boost the career of all the men involved in some way. This does not happen with women. Men and women are not perceived the same. In order to cement your places in an industry that really wants you to fit in one type of mold and look pretty and never be threatening, you have to uplift yourself and this means lifting up and supporting (sincerely) your fellow female artist. At the very least, respect that she is on her grind. Learn to put personal feelings aside and maybe to keep them to yourselves (ie out of interviews and social media posts) and focus on sending worthwhile and original messages to the public. You have these male mentors that are supposed to be helping you but their blueprint cannot be yours to the "T", not yet anyway. And let's be real, many of them are only moderately successful anyway. Don't you want more for yourselves?

I just want you ladies to do better. Please try.


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