Culture

The Problem With Eminem’s Brand of White, Male Anger In 2018

Screen capture of a 2018 interview with Eminem and Sway. Courtesy of Youtube.

To be a female hip-hop fan is to live like Rihanna in that “Love on the Brain” song. On the one hand, this male-dominated genre figuratively beats women black and blue with its hyper-masculine and misogynistic sentiments. But damn if it doesn’t also pleasures them good with dope bars, creativity, and poignant social commentary. Last Friday, Eminem — a great embodiment of misogyny and #WhiteMaleAnger in rap form — sneak-dropped his Kamikaze album to music platforms. For Em stans, Kamikaze was a much appreciated return to the rapper’s previous genius. However, for women, the album affirmed a long known truth — Eminem hates the fuck out of them.

While this sentiment was sprinkled throughout the album’s 13 tracks, this feeling was most strongly felt on the 5th track, “Normal.” A brilliant, if not also angry and ugly song, Marshall laid bare the same violently hateful feeling he still carries for the opposite sex. To his credit, he made a bare-minimum attempt at accountability by first asking a question women likely already knew the answer to — maybe it something about me? And to truly pin this self-reflection motif on the nose, Marshall threw in a mirror bar for good measure.

With that weak attempt at accountability aside, Em then launched into bars that give new meaning to misogyny and #WhiteMaleAnger. Throughout the track, Em paints vivid and hateful images of a cheating ex-lover he is struck in an abusive time-loop with. This ex attempts to run Em over with her car, attempts to leave his house in a cleavage-baring evening gown, and hits him in the head with Milo’s demotape — Milo here being a man Em suspects she is cheating on him with. But even with the mutual cheating, domestic charges, and planted trackers on Chryslers, Eminem still ends up effectively where he first started — drunkenly stumbling into his ex’s house at 5am, and bitterly resigned to this rotten apple of his eye.

There are many takeaways from “Normal,” a big one being the two-headed monster of Em’s misogyny and #WhiteMaleAnger. Any attempt here to disavow these two heads from their shared body is fruitless, as the two need each other to survive. Starting with #WhiteMaleAnger, such feelings carry larger social and historical precidents. This feeling can be traced back more than half-a century ago, when ”minorities, women and immigrants began to challenge the economic, political and legal hierarchy that had favored white men for centuries,” per The Washington Post’s Steven M. Gillon. These feelings reached a fever pitch after the 2008 election of Barack Obama.

And in perhaps a sign of twisted genius, Donald Trump effectively applied pressure to this #WhiteMaleAnger. According to Trump, his kin-folk were “honest, hard-working taxpaying … Americans.” who “love [their] nation, obey [their] laws and care for [their] people.” And combined with platitudes about stolen white heritage and history, this #WhiteMaleAnger propelled a surprise win for Trump in 2016.

With the High Prince Of #WhiteMaleAnger perched on the most powerful throne of them all, these long-held feelings were finally validated. In this new social system, #WhiteMaleAnger was granted the freedom to cruelly bite back against African Americans, women, and the LGBT community — all communities that threatened their privilege in previous decades.

President Lyndon B. Jordan, pictured shaking hands with Martin Luther King Jr. upon signing the Civil Rights Act. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Starting with African Americans “unwilling to accept the legacy of Jim Crow,” they challenged the white male power structure present most strongly in the South. With the help of some liberals in Congress, they oversaw passage of two landmark pieces of legislation which outlawed legal discrimination, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Organizers at the Women’s Strike for Equality, August 26, 1970.

Encouraged by these successes, second-wave feminists followed suit, building on previous efforts by female organizers of color and challenging long-held gender norms which relegated them to a subservient housewife role. Feminists would later be joined by LGBT activists, who demanded fair treatment and challenged long-held norms around gender and sexuality. With all these challenges to their privilege, it’s no wonder heterosexual White Men — and also shockingly, 53% their female counterparts — voted Trump into office.

But what does Trump have to do with Eminem?

Screen capture of Eminem’s 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards Freestyle Cypher. Courtesy of Youtube.

Quite a lot, actually. The Eminem/Trump connection can be traced back to an October 2017 BET Awards freestyle, where Eminem blasted Trump. And on his recent album Kamikaze, Em serves up a fair share of anti-Trump bars. More specifically, on “The Ringer,” Eminem reflects on the Secret Service Donald Trump — or “agent Orange” — sent “to meet in person to see if I really think of hurtin’ him / Or ask if I’m linked to terrorists.” But outside of the anti-Trump bars, it’s clear both men embody this notion of #WhiteMaleAnger, albeit in different forms.

For Trump, his #WhiteMaleAnger serves to cruelly insult and dominate all female challengers. Some examples include:

  • That time he sent New York Times columnist Gail Collins a copy of her 2011 article about Trump’s rumored bankruptcy with the comment “the face of a dog!” scribbled across it.
  • When he called journalist Megyn Kelly a “bimbo” after the first Republican Debate in August 2015 on Twitter.
  • And most famously on October 7, 2016, when old footage from entertainment show Access Hollywood emerged. In the video, Trump discusses “grabbing (women) by the p****,” with Billy Bush and asserts “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”

For Eminem, his #WhiteMaleAnger attacks the not “normal” women he can’t seem to stop dating. Here, he keeps personal accountability and growth to the barest of minimums, choosing instead to ask “why can’t you bitches be normal?”

This question drives home not only the Rap God’s hated towards women, but also his unwillingness to grow past his toxic romantic relationships.

But perhaps it’s not that deep. Maybe Eminem is simply leaning into an old and previously effective brand template. For years, Eminem served as the living embodiment of #WhiteMaleAnger in rap form, and garnered tremendous critical and commercial success as a result. That he would attempt to return to this old template and try to recoup some of his white, rural fans makes sense, as this group is his commercial bread and butter. And in order to effectively tap into this #WhiteMaleAnger, misogynistic bars have to be thrown in for good measure.

Either way, female fans looking for a similar type of emotional growth that other elder statesmen like Jay-Z displayed on his 4:44 album should keep it moving. And with hope, they will also aim to date better men than the 46-year old who is demanding his romantic partner be “normal,” and “eat a monkey dick wrapped in a stuffed pita fajita.” Because she knows that she is so much better than that.

tiffany dillon (aka, thecoolintellectual) is a 27-year-old writer, social critic, and sales professional with a lot to say. Check out her other ramblings here on Medium, Twitter (@tiffanysdillon) and her blog thecoolintellectual.tumblr.com.




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