Editor in Chief of Naked Politics
In case you’ve been deprived of the joys of twitter over the past couple of weeks, the rapper Drake and Meek Mill (who is currently dating female rap power house Nicki Minaj) have got some serious beef going on. The beef was unexpectedly instigated when Meek claimed Drake doesn’t really write his own raps, but uses a “ghost writer” (a process I can imagine lesser more pop-ified artists such as Iggy Azalea are familiar with) after Drake did not re-tweet news of Meek’s new album.
A pretty tame to and fro of insults between the two rappers ensued. Drake responded with so-called “diss” tracks, quickly improvised raps fired straight at Meek, claiming he’s “just mad cause I got the Midas touch”. Notably, Meek has only responded to Drake’s “razor sharp” lyrical “witticisms” through twitter and has not responded with his own raps. This pointless feud is not really important (at least in any kind of social sense). But one insult Drake made toward Meek made me scratch my head and think a little.
In his second diss track, “Back to Back”, Drake raps “Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour/I know that you gotta be a thug for her/this ain’t what she meant when she told you to open up more”. Translated into English, this seems to allude to the fact that Meek Mill’s other half is extremely successful (…all well and good so far) but that somehow that should make Meek feel bad, or less of a man. He has been a supporting act on her current tour and she is definitely the breadwinner in the relationship. In fact I had no idea who the hell Meek Mill was until she left her former boyfriend of 12 years to shack up with him. There is nothing for Meek to be embarrassed about, he should (in theory) be proud to be with such a driven, successful woman. However, Drake subverts this, to reflect a sad, ludicrous view that men have somehow failed if they are not the most successful one and play a more supporting role in the relationship.
After a little research, depressingly I found that the world of science seems to have come to the same conclusion and that maybe it wasn’t a male stereotype at all but in fact true. Psychologists Katie Ratliff and Shigehiro Oishi found that men tended to feel bad about themselves when their partners were more successful. Now I’m panicking slightly. Should I not have done a law degree? Should I pack up my career dreams and ambitions and chain myself to the kitchen sink?
I was recently watching old re-runs of Sex and the City episodes (it’s my go-to series when I run out of new things to watch-don’t judge me) and found exactly the same mentality reflected in the storyline. Miranda (a bad-ass Harvard graduated, successful city lawyer) tries to treat her boyfriend Steve (a “lowly” bartender) to a nice suit for some schmoozy legal dinner. By the end of the episode he dumps her, strongly suggesting he feels too emasculated to continue dating her. Miranda then says (in quite a poignant way for a TV show) “I’m being punished for being successful” with a little tear in her eye.
It’s pretty sad that as a society, we are just not used to seeing women in a position of financial power. As former closeted feminist Beyoncé once said: “money is power, and that’s what gives men the power to run the show”. If we are going to progress further, we need to see women as capable of being breadwinners as much as men. That means we need more women being able to reach positions of power, to set a narrative that our successes are something to be proud of, not something to be hidden or downplayed so as not to embarrass our male partners. That way, we won’t have to witness rappers with a sore ego, trashing women’s success in order to elevate themselves.