Back in 2013, after a supporter alerted us to rapper Tyler, The Creator's lyrics glorifying rape and extreme violence against women, we called on Immigration to revoke his visa for his upcoming tour. While we were not successful at this time, Tyler, The Creator's abuse of one of our young activists at his Sydney concert led to New Zealand barring him from entry the following year. In 2015, prior to his Australian tour, we again called on Immigration to act, and Tyler, The Creator posted a tweet claiming he had been banned from Australia, tagging our Operations Manager Coralie Alison and citing her as being responsible. As a result, Coralie was inundated with abuse and violent threats from Tyler, The Creator's followers.
Last month, Tyler, The Creator returned to Australia to perform again. Collective Shout Campaigns Manager Caitlin Roper provided comment in the Daily Telegraph.
Tyler The Creator finishes tour in Australia despite lyrics rapping about raping and murdering women
Despite being stopped from entering Australia in 2015, rapper Tyler, The Creator has just completed a successful three-show tour across the country.
US rapper Tyler Okonma, 28, was targeted by women’s rights group Collective Shout in 2015 ahead of a proposed Australian tour for his violent misogynistic lyrics, which include graphic descriptions of rape and murder.
Some of his most disturbing lyrics include: “I just wanna drag your lifeless body to the forest and fornicate with it,” “Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome,” “You call this shit rape but I think that rape’s fun,” and “Punches to the stomach where that bastard kid supposed to be.”
Tyler, The Creator just finished an Australian tour.
Collective Shout campaigns manager Caitlin Roper said the group was “disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised” Okonma was permitted to tour the country.
“It says that women and girls don’t matter very much.”
Many musicians regret their early music and even strike certain songs from their discography if they no longer align with their adult beliefs.
For example, Paramore removed their song Misery Business from their live shows despite it being the group’s most popular song.
However Okonma has never made any statement separating himself from his controversial lyrics.
“A lot of Tyler the Creator’s fans claim he has evolved as an artist, that he has changed, but we haven’t seen any evidence of this,” Ms Roper said.
“If there is genuine self-reflection and change, I think this is generally accompanied by some kind of acknowledgment or action.
“Tyler the Creator has built his career on the degradation of women, and made a lot of money in the process.”
For those that have been following our campaigns for a number of years you will remember that in 2015 we wrote a letter to Immigration regarding the visa application for rap artist Tyler, The Creator. A characteristic feature of his songs is retribution against women who he perceives have wronged him. For example, he sings about strangling and chopping up women who reject his sexual advances and raping their corpses. Before Immigration could make a decision Frontier Touring cancelled the Australian tour, not before Tyler incorrectly tweeted that he was banned.
This tweet directed at one of our staff, Coralie Alison, led to mass online abuse from all around the world. So much so that her name was trending in 6 continents and the global head of Twitter's internet safety personally phoned her to check on her wellbeing.
"I'd love to hear that he's changed and that he has something to say about it, because I haven't forgotten," says activist Coralie Alison from Collective Shout.
"Based on the continual threats I have coming through, even four years down the track, it's not something that just went away for me."
"I had to go to the police about it and there were people trying to track down where I lived, trying to threaten relatives and family members. I still haven't seen Tyler call out his fans to condemn that behaviour," says Alison.
"We got confirmation from Immigration at the time that they never got to make a decision," says Alison. "We were in correspondence with Immigration so we know for a fact that he was never officially banned.
"It's unfortunate because his tweet led to a lot of abuse, and it didn't have to be that way."
"A lot of people really look up to him and admire him, so he could use that to channel a positive message – in particular in Australia, where violence against women is still at epidemic rates," she says.
"I would love to see him speak out against those extremely violent and misogynistic songs that he created in his early days. And if he acknowledges the harm those songs can do, then I'd love to see him remove them from Spotify and Apple Music.
"Because if he's still profiting off that music and those lyrics, then he's still complicit in advocating the message those songs portray. And if he is still allowing those lyrics to influence young people, has true change really occurred?"
Read the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.
Content warning: This piece contains references to rape and violence against women that may be distressing.
This week, Noisey, Vice’s music channel, published a piece in defence of rap artist Tyler the Creator. The article, entitled ‘#FreeTylerTheCreator And Reject Theresa May’s Dumb Logic’ painted Tyler as a victim of racism and ignorance, and presented misinformation about campaigns against him.
The piece opens by describing a “moving” performance by TTC, summed up with the following statement:
"This – a peaceful lover of nature – is an artist who remains banned from entering the UK under any circumstances.”
It's hard to imagine such a “peaceful lover of nature” could be behind lyrics like “rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome”, or a wealth of others glorifying rape and extreme violence against women, murder, mutilating women’s genitals, stuffing them into car boots, trapping them in his basement, raping their corpses and burying their bodies.
The author suggests there is no basis for TTC to be refused access into any country, and that bans were motivated by racism:
"It was a very blatant case of making an example out of someone for no reason other than the fact that he’s black and angry and all the other countries under the Queen’s rule were doing it.”
The author's lack of research doesn’t end there, with the article incorrectly stating that after being banned from entering New Zealand in 2014, TTC became the focus of Collective Shout.
Collective Shout first campaigned against Tyler the Creator in June of 2013, not because he is “black and angry”, but due to his songs advocating rape and violence against women, often defended by his fans as ‘art’. In the course of our campaign, young activist Talitha Stone wrote a tweet accusing Tyler the Creator of promoting misogyny. TTC responded by sharing her tweet with his millions of followers, who predictably jumped at the opportunity to prove their loyalty by threatening to rape and murder Talitha, with police involvement required after one fan tweeted her home address.
Just days later, Tyler launched into an abusive tirade against Talitha who was in the crowd at his Sydney concert, calling her a bitch, whore and c*** as concertgoers cheered. He then proceeded to dedicate the song ‘Bitch Suck Dick’ to her, which contains the lyrics “You dead bitch, I'm hot as f*ck…Punch a bitch in her mouth just for talkin' shit”.
Is this still ‘art’?
‘Beat the p***y up’ – the way we talk about sex with women
By Jessica Eaton
This blog contains a discussion of violent language to discuss sex, sexual violence and porn. It also contains the titles to real porn films that a lot of people may find disturbing. Please take care of yourself whilst reading this and seek support after reading if you need to.
As a massive old skool (and sometimes new skool) RnB, Rap and Hip Hop fan, I often find myself experiencing some pretty serious cognitive dissonance to try to enjoy my music without yelling at the radio or crying into my crisps.
As a younger feminist, I used to tell myself that it was okay that women were called bitches and hoes because that’s the way that artist chose to express themselves (I know, I know, so progressive).
As I got older, I started to resent the use of the word ‘bitch’ in my once-favourite songs. I stopped listening to some artists because I couldn’t stand the way they spoke about women and sex. The next challenge was dealing with the rise of female artists using ‘bitch’ and ‘nasty hoe’ to describe themselves. I thought the rise of female MCs, rappers and writers would eliminate this constant woman-hating but it didn’t. Nicki, Cardi B, Lil Kim, Missy Elliott – they made me wanna two-step and cry at the same time.
(Edit: I would just like to add that misogynistic and rape-glorifying lyrics are found in Death Metal too so this issue clearly isn’t unique to my music preferences, but I have never listened to it so didn’t know until someone told me today! Here’s a link.)
It is often the case in music that women sing about loving men and men sing about f*cking women. And it’s this that I want to talk about.
I noticed recently that the range of ways men sing, rap and talk about having sex with women has become inherently violent. They aren’t talking about ‘getting jiggy’ or ‘having fun’ or ‘doing the deed’ – I mean, they are not even calling it sex anymore. Not only that, but they are not even naming or identifying the woman anymore.
I decided to sit and think about all the violent ways men describe having sex with women these days, and came up with this list in about 3 minutes. I am sure there are many more and people will contact me with others.
List of violent terms to describe having sex with women:
Beat that p***y up
Beat it up
There are two main points here. The first is that sex is being described in very violent terms and the second is that the word ‘that’ is used in place of ‘her’ to objectify the woman they are talking about. These men aren’t saying ‘I would love to have sex with her’ or ‘I would shag her’ or even ‘I would f**k her’ – they are saying ‘I would f**k that’. ‘That’ is not a pronoun. ‘That’ is not a name. ‘That’ is used for objects. I’ll come back to this point.
The first point is the violence in the language. Hit. Destroy. Ruin. Bang. Beat up. Smash. Smack. Hurt. These are words that describe violence and injury. They don’t describe sex. They don’t describe the type of sex any woman wants to have.
When I started to search the terms I had heard and read, I easily found memes, articles, discussions and blogs using this language about women in a completely normalised way. Men saying to their friends ‘The girl next door, I would ruin that!’ or ‘She’s gonna get it hard. Beat that p***y up!’ The image of all of the guys saying they would rape the sleeping girl on the sofa. I found hundreds of song lyrics like the ones I have listened to.
Gucci Mane released a song called ‘Beat it up’ about having sex with women. So did Slim Thug. So did Chris Brown. And no, I’m not talking about one song they all featured on, I’m talking about three separately produced songs about ‘beating that p***y up’.
Here are the lyrics from Slim Thug:
Guess what? I’m f**kin tonight
Whether you know it or not, Ima beat that pussy right
Yeah I’m f**kin tonight, Ima beat it up
In song lyrics, R Kelly says he ‘beats the p***y up like Django’and Lil Wayne says he ‘beat that p***y up like Emmett Till’.
Chris Brown says he f**ks women back to sleep in ‘Back to sleep’. I don’t really know why he would want to make a woman he has sex with fall asleep but the song lyrics are creepy as shit:
F**k you to sleep, wake you up again, I go so deep, beat it up again
Just let me rock, f**k you back to sleep, girl
Don’t say no, girl, don’t you talk
Just hold on tight to me, girl
F**k you back to sleep, girl.
The issue here is that these influential men in our popular culture and music industry are openly using sexually violent references to having sex with women and then every day adults (and children) are singing along to Chris Brown riffin’ about the women he wakes up to make them have sex with him again when they are too tired. We are so oblivious to what we are listening to, this language quickly becomes the norm.
One article I found listed every artist they could find who referred to sex as ‘beating the p***y up’ and they found over 15 current male artists using that term in hit songs. Jay-Z to Lil Wayne – they were all describing sex as harming women.
After searching for evidence on each one of the terms I listed above, I found a website discussing what ‘destroy that’ and ‘ruin that’ meant and was surprised to find how open men were when talking about what they meant. I had thought that maybe it was being used semi-consciously by men who were using it in banter, but they were using it literally. One page defined it as ‘having sex with her so rough that you cause injuries, the more physical injuries the rougher it probably was’. One man said he used it with his friends to mean destroying or ruining a ‘nice girl’ by having very aggressive sex with her or by taking her virginity.
It reminded me of a film I watched (and use in my teaching) about mail order brides and the way white, wealthy guys were buying and sexually exploiting women as servile brides from deprived areas. There was this one guy who used military metaphors to discuss meeting and having sex with potential brides. He made my skin crawl.
He is sat in a dark club when he says to the camera:
“Uh, the search and destroy mission for today is to circulate, work the room, identify a target and go for it. If plan A doesn’t work, I retreat, rally the troops and then go out and then try plan B uhh to capture the target.”
He doesn’t even say woman. He doesn’t even talk about humans. He talks about destroying and identifying targets.
This links to the second point I wanted to make – that this language dehumanises and dementalises women – it reduces them to their ‘p***y’ or their ‘ass’ that the men are going to ‘hurt’ or ‘hit’ or ‘crush’ or ‘beat that up’. They no longer converse about sex in human terms – they talk in metaphors and disconnected, dehumanised language. They refer to women as ‘that’ or they only talk about her body parts. She is there to be used, abused and hurt for their pleasure.
Where is this sexually violent language coming from?
Well, sorry to be the not-the-fun-kind-of-feminist, but its porn and societal misogyny. There is no doubt about where this is coming from. Work by people like Julia Long and Gail Dines has long told us that porn has become more and more violent, with Long (2012) arguing that over 90% of porn now features violence against women including hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, hurting, whipping and deliberately painful and extremely degrading sex acts.
You only have to look at the titles of porn films on Pornhub or X Videos to see the way they describe women in violent and degrading terms to see where this is coming from.
Here are some examples that are on porn sites today (18th May 2018):
‘Passed out slut letting me f**k her brains out’ (this film is of a clearly unconscious young girl being raped on Pornhub)
‘Unwanted painful anal’ (another allowed to stay on Pornhub despite clearly describing a rape)
‘Rip her up’ (the name of a series of videos in which women are raped)
‘Blonde babe gets brutally slapped and f**ked’
‘Beauty humiliated and ruined – BRUTAL’
‘Teen gets anally destroyed – hear her real screams and crying’
‘Heavily pregnant teen used by men’ (Pornhub allows this!)
McDonald's are pushing soft porn to kids by screening hyper-sexualised content on their in-store TV screens throughout restaurants across Australia.Read more
“Coming to the UK is a privilege, and we expect those who come here to respect our shared values." - UK Home Office
As reported by The Guardian:Read more
Inciting Violence Against Women Isn’t ‘Art’, and Tyler the Creator Shouldn’t Be Granted EntryRead more
Calvin Harris, DJ Snake, Basement Jaxx and Robin Thicke criticised by women’s groups citing evidence that music videos feed sexism and racism; call for age ratingsRead more