Buyepongo says Misogyny will not be tolerated after women fans groped at their show

by Tom Nguyen

[Buyepongo is about breaking down borders one dance floor at a time. Its about getting to know one another.. and yes it’s about shaking yo booty, How ever you want to get down!! We want to make it clear to all these foos that think they are gods gift to woman and think they can come and straight up disrespect a woman at our show.. fuck that!! We see you and we will approach you!! Last night we had a situation where 2 #buyeseras were touched and groped and without consent simply for the fact they allow him to dance with them. We want to say it loud and clear THAT WILL NOT BE TOLERATED AT A BUYE SHOW!! Even if its a friend , brother or even a Buye member they will get checked appropriately. And If you see this happening you gotta step up and protect our people!!! We love all woman and men!! And we want yall to come to our shows and feel free to do your thing but all ways be respectful and NO MEANS NO!!!! This conversation must happen so we can create a better future for our seeds. This has been a Buye service .. announcement. Con todo respeto y amor !!!! #fuckpatriarchy #buyangu]

Thank you Edgar Meshlee Modesto of Buyepongo for calling out the man who groped 2 of their women fans at their show this past weekend, and saying any behavior that disrespects and violates folks, will not be tolerated. He also importantly says, as men, we need to challenge and confront other men when we see this happening, instead of looking the other way and being bystanders. It’s an important issue many of us recently discussed at Art Making Party: Gear Up for Denim Day! led by Sumaq Alvarado-del Aguila of Peace Over Violence.

This kind of behavior happens so much at shows, that we’ve become so conditioned to ignore it….women learn to accept it as a reality of going out anywhere, men learn they can get away with it, because no other men are saying or doing anything about it. When is this going to change? When are each of us going to take a stand like Edgar? For my partner who is a survivor of sexual assault, for my niece who is growing up, I want to the the kind of man who doesn’t hesitate to call out misogyny and patriarchy. Shit like this is not harmless. It’s not boys being boys. You touch somebody without their consent, that’s assault…that’s violence. And it doesn’t matter who it is — we can’t give folks a pass just because they’re popular or well-connected. There has to be consequences for bad behavior. Edgar says he will check his own band members.

And that’s why you’ll never see Tropa Magica / Thee Commons events here…I’ve seen the 2 brothers harass and manhandle women many times and I won’t cover any misogynist bands, or give them a pass just because people expect rockers to be bad boys. No, just because you play in a band, manage a band, think you’re with the cool kids, doesn’t mean you get to violate and take advantage of folks. Support artists like Buyepongo, Earth Arrow and Weapons of Mass Creation who call out the bullshit that patriarchy is, and who absolutely demand that all folks are respected and safe at their shows.

And demand safe spaces where you spend your money! One venue where I see bad behavior tolerated all the time is Resident, where security is only outside checking IDs, but none anywhere inside. So, there are men who feel they can get as drunk as they want and act with impunity. And you feel like you have to act on your own with no backup…the one time I confronted a man who was groping women on the dance floor there, their security threw me and my partner Vanna Mae Art (people of color) out, and let the perpetrator (white male) stay. These spaces that profit from us absolutely bear a responsibility to ensure a safe space…hold them to it!

And we wouldn’t be having this conversation openly if the 2 brave women didn’t tell Edgar after the show what happened. Let’s talk about these issues openly instead of remaining silent. Have you had bad experiences or witnessed them? What can we do to protect one another better and respect folks’ space and safety at shows? On a bright note, a man I got into a physical confrontation with at La Cita Bar last year over his groping of women, approached me and apologized to me recently for his bad behavior. So, people can atone and change, but it starts with telling them their bad behavior is not to be tolerated.

14 Rappers, 14 Countries for UNICEF: Where are the Women MCs?

by Tom Nguyen

Dear San E and UNICEF,

I was excited to discover your music video #HIPHOPISHIPHOP – Hip Hop for the World bringing together 14 rappers from 14 countries to express the unifying love of hip hop. I love that this video was made in the tradition of the iconic song We Are The World, to bring light on an important global issue: children’s access to education. Except for the venerable KRS-One, I love that I didn’t know any of the rappers. Thanks for giving talented rappers around the world a chance to shine!

Now, I ask…where are the women? I was quickly disappointed to see that out of 14 rappers, there was only one woman, YACKO from Indonesia. Why does this bother me? While every rapper in that video is talented and deserving and I applaud each of them, I have so many reasons for why this gender imbalance in your video upsets me.

Hip hop has historically been a very unfriendly and unfair place for women and it still remains so. Misogyny, homophobia and transphobia are big problems in hip hop songs, lyrics and culture. I’m afraid your video only reinforces the exclusion of women in hip hop. If We Are The World had better inclusion of women in 1985, I’m sure we can do better in 2015.

Since you are using hip hop as a platform for children’s education and your own statistics show that girls suffer greater disadvantage and exclusion from education in so many parts of the world, wouldn’t you have wanted to represent more women as role models? If you had included more women cyphers, I think your message would have been much more powerful and inspiring in your quest for gender equality in education.

After all, you released this video during Women’s History Month and right before International Women’s Day. I think you squandered a very good opportunity to not only address the inequality of access to education, but to also give strength to the message that the ones most affected by that inequality are girls around the world. You could have shown young girls everywhere that they have the same right and ability to succeed in any male-dominated space.

However, I have faith in an organization that is doing so much to achieve gender equality. We’re far from achieving equal human rights and opportunities for one half of the world’s population and it’s critical to keep empowering girls and women worldwide. There are no lack of girls and women on the front lines of society fighting for equality and freedom every day in every part of the world, and hip hop is no exception. In many countries, just being female, queer or trans in male-dominated hip hop is defiant and revolutionary. Below are just 14 of so many countless talented female, queer and trans rappers (in alphabetical order) who are not only rapping but doing so by challenging the status quo and giving voice to marginalized communities around the world. I hope you’ll consider them in a second hip hop video.

Tom Nguyen

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