None of us escapes life free of error. However, with age comes not only the opportunity to rectify our past blunders but also a chance to be bold enough to acknowledge them. When rapper Snoop Dogg was called on his past misogyny in his rap lyrics, he didn’t speak of regret but shared, “Once I figured out there was room to grow and learn and to be a better person, then I incorporated that in everything I was doing. I don’t feel like you can be ashamed or mad about not knowing—if you don’t know, you don’t know.”
The end result is that Snoop no longer refers to women as “bitches” or “hos.” Similarly, in a new interview with Rolling Stone, Dr. Dre acknowledges his history of physically abusing women—namely his assault of TV host Dee Barnes, as well as of his former girlfriend and mother of one of his children, Michel’le. When asked about both the incident and accusations, Dre acknowledged, “I made some f—king horrible mistakes in my life. I was young, f—king stupid. I would say all the allegations aren’t true—some of them are. Those are some of the things that I would like to take back. It was really f—ked up. But I paid for those mistakes, and there’s no way in hell that I will ever make another mistake like that again.”
It’s not a total act of contrition.
Unfortunately, when called on his own bad habits, Ice Cube took a different approach; as in, f—k that, my attitude on women will stay in Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday mode.
Rolling Stone notes that Ice Cube laughed off critics of N.W.A’s treatment of women before saying: “If you’re a bitch, you’re probably not going to like us. If you’re a ho, you probably don’t like us. If you’re not a ho or a bitch, don’t be jumping to the defense of these despicable females. Just like I shouldn’t be jumping to the defense of no punks or no cowards or no slimy son of a bitches that’s men. I never understood why an upstanding lady would even think we’re talking about her.”
At 46 years old, Ice Cube is way too old to sound this immature and banal. Snoop attributed much of his shift in attitude to the women in his life—a wife, a daughter—and yet Ice Cube is a family man himself who’s made millions off crafting family-friendly movies. Still, Cube clings to misogyny, proving that a wife and daughter may not cure every man’s penchant for degrading women.
The same goes for the Straight Outta Compton director and longtime Cube collaborator, F. Gary Gray. There is a particular scene in the film that employs the reference “Bye, Felicia” and meshes it with what was described as “a moment of degradation.” When asked about this in an interview with New York magazine’s The Cut, Gray argued, “If you’re looking to be politically correct in entertainment, especially as it relates to comedy, that’s the end of entertainment. If people want us to make entertainment in a certain way, you tell me how we should have shot the scene.”
Like Cube, Gray is too old not to know better. There’s political correctness and there’s common decency. There’s pushing the envelope and there’s perpetuating a trope. There’s being controversial and there’s playing to the lowest common denominator.
Bothered by the question, Gray went on: “That’s just an awful question. You know. It’s like, if Oprah says it’s a powerful movie, and we know how she feels about how women are depicted in film and entertainment and things like that—I feel like you’re digging. We should be focusing on how the police are treating innocent American citizens. What about that? Let’s talk about something as important, if not more important, if you really want to go there.”
Yet another immature deflection: Why you worried ’bout this when blah-blah-blah is happening?
By Gray’s logic, the police are brutalizing black women as much as they are black men. To that end, more than two decades ago, N.W.A said “F—k the police” while dually condemning black women as spiteful or whorish and, for some members, also beating them. All this time later, as we collectively remain angry about law enforcement’s treatment of black souls and bodies, many women and men question how some black men can still be so hateful to their female counterparts.
What a pity that some of these black men haven’t evolved to offer a better answer.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.