This week, two very different members of the hip-hop community offered commentary on the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton. One was drenched in sexism, battered in stupidity, and deep fried in fool. The other was seemingly more progressive, though when you really examine what was said, it’s not that much healthier. It’s sort of the equivalent of someone turning their nose up at you eating pork bacon as they wave a slab of sodium-heavy crispy turkey bacon in your face.
First up: T.I., who was quickly and rightly roasted for his sexist criticism of the Democratic presidential primary frontrunner. In an interview on DJ Whoo Kid’s The Whoolywood Shuffle, the rapper said, “not to be sexist, but…” before offering a very sexist reason why he can’t support a woman for president.
T.I. claimed: “It’s kind of like, I just know that women make rash decisions emotionally, and they make very permanent, cemented decisions—and then later, it’s kind of like it didn’t happen, or they didn’t mean for it to happen… and I sure would hate to just set off a nuke. [Leaders of other nations] will not be able to negotiate the right kinds of foreign policy.”
Never mind several countries around the world have elected women to lead their governments. Or, you know, the fun fact that T.I., a repeat felon who co-signed Iggy Azalea, wants to judge anyone else for making rash decisions. Nevertheless, after being being ferociously critiqued, T.I. offered an apology via Twitter, writing, “My comments about women running for president were unequivocally insensitive and wrong. I sincerely apologize to everyone I offended.”
T.I. meant exactly what he said, but at least he disavowed his own dense political musings publicly.
The other male hip-hop celebrity to opine on Hillary Clinton this week was Pharrell, who actually endorsed the former Secretary of State during his appearance on Ellen. Pharrell claimed that when it comes to the most powerful position on the planet, “It’s time for a woman to be in there.”
He went on to say, "Women think about things in a holistic way[…] We need someone who is going to take it seriously. She does have a serious tone, but I feel like when things get done, it's by someone who is being serious about it."
This was basically an extra lap around the same point, but whatever. His “New Black” ideology aside, Pharrell is likable. However, he has a habit of using language reminiscent of an artisanal tea packet. And softer language does not negate an underlying stereotypical sentiment.
Pharrell’s endorsement was well-intentioned, but there’s something off-putting about the producer-singer’s claim that “women think about things in a holistic way.” Sure, Pharrell thinks of women in a far better way than T.I. does, but he is just as guilty of making a sweeping generalization and placing women in a box. I imagine he didn’t mean to sound patronizing, but the impact outweighs the intent.
We have Hillary Clinton, but there's also Carly Fiorina—a woman, but certainly not the same kind of woman that Hillary Clinton is. Completely different outlooks and agendas. Similarly, no one paying attention would ever say politicians Senator Elizabeth Warren and Governor Nikki Haley are of the same ilk.
T.I. and Pharrell’s pro and con arguments won’t make or break Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency, but each represent a problem, and male voters need to check themselves.
A woman is just as capable of running an executive position as a man is. A woman is no more and no less emotional in her thought than a man is. Men are incredibly emotional—just turn on the angry, overly aggressive tone permeating much of male-dominated rap music.
We needn’t romanticize a woman’s thinking, either. If you want to support Hillary Clinton for president because you find her to be a serious person and a serious person needs to be commander-in-chief, just say that. No need to make proclamations about some quality women allegedly universally possess.
When it comes to Hillary Clinton—and any woman in politics, for that matter—judge her based on what she's actually arguing for in terms of policy, and spare us your projections. Women deserve better than that. So does the process.
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard University educated writer who wants a show that'll allow him to recite UGK lyrics with Beyoncé. He's working on his first book, I Can't Date Jesus, for Atria Books.