Is Misogyny the New ‘I Love You’?

Kanye West's profane paean to Kim Kardashian reflects a disturbing trend in popular culture.

Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images
Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images

(The Root) — 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”?