We Don't Need Anymore Slut-Shaming Music

by Brittany Dawson Tink’s “ Ratchet Commandments ” has quickly become the latest prescribed...


by Brittany Dawson



Tink’s “Ratchet Commandments” has quickly become the latest prescribed respectability anthem for women. Ah, yes, I’m sure a group of New Blacks are nodding their heads in approval.

What initially appears as a song about empowerment is actually another example of a vapid, slut-shaming track dressed up as a truism. Don’t get me wrong, Tink is an incredibly talented artist. However, I wholeheartedly disagree with the “commandments” she outlines.

In sum, the song tirelessly lambastes so called “Instagram Thots,” side-chicks-with-main-chick-goals, and of course, ratchets. As Tink so, uhh, fearlessly states: 
Some of y'all ratchet, I'm a write you hoes a manual.



The music video contains unhelpful words of "wisdom" like, “Maybe that's the reason why b*tches they can't keep a man,” or “Never let him know you need him” that do nothing to combat competing messages the media sends to Black women daily.

The video begins with Tink dressed in golden, sanctimonious robing. While backup dancers mimic a praise and worship team, Tink bellows a list of anti-ratchet, thot preventative steps for Millennial women to follow.

We learn to stop “doing the most” on Instagram: 
We act belligerent, generation of ignorance / B*tches live for the 'Gram so they life ain't got no significance.
Do you know any absent fathers out there? Well, Tink has words for them as well: 
And n*ggas ratchet too, just in another way / You fake fathers never held your daughters, never had a conversation.
“Ya’ll can’t sit with us," she also croons repetitively throughout the song. What is this? A course on how to clap back using Mean Girls quotes? If you are like me and barely stomached the entire song, both the video and the lyrics only seem to worsen as it goes on. One distasteful scene shows a Black woman being placed in a garbage can after violating one of the previously mentioned rules, signaling the unworthiness and disposability of women who don’t abide by Tink’s haphazardly cultivated commandments.



But what is more painful, though, is how normalized these sentiments have become in mainstream media, especially in how we describe women of color. From Wendy Williams’ not-so-coy critique of Karrueche Tran, to a list of club bangers lauded by the Billboard 100, there is no denying the terms “thot” and “ratchet” are largely used to place restrictions on opportunities for Black women to explore their sexuality and sexual agency. I’d even go as for to say “thot” and “ratchet” are specifically used to police Black female sexuality. Contrarily, White women who talk about sex (ex: comedienne Amy Schumer, Comedy Central’s Broad City, and writer-producer Lena Dunham) are crowned with feminist jewels like “sex positivity”, leaving Black women bereft and under-appreciated.

As seen in “Ratchet Commandments,” Black women are regularly given strict, unrealistic parameters to express their sexuality. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in today’s music. Following in the tradition of espousing slut-shaming messages, check out Chris Brown’s “Loyal” or Chief Keef’s “Love No Thotties” for example. Both tracks elucidate just how obtuse and damaging these assumptions are. It is also interesting to note that the lyrics don’t have any indication of chagrin. In fact, each line boasts a self-righteous tone used to curve and influence the behavior of women.

Black women who engage in allegedly coquettish activity are momentarily rewarded with social qualifiers like “bad b*tch” and “boss chick” which later transform into a cautionary tale on the importance of piety. How can these songs champion women who don’t abide by these strict moral codes, but still ostracize women who take it “too far”?

Why can’t Black women have true agency when it comes to our bodies?

Ironically, we are told to be modest, submissive, yet aesthetically pleasing. Our curves, hips, lips, and minds are reduced to commodities. Meanwhile, men are given ample space to sleep with as many women as possible to assert their masculinity. This trite ideology is proven in almost every song out there today, and Tink’s “Ratchet Commandments” feeds into this mindset.

We are instructed to be “Queens,” but in many scenarios, we must hide our crown to humor the monolithic idea that only Black men reserve the right to rule in this misogynistic, patriarchal kingdom. The Black female body serves as background noise, nothing more than an interesting doodad to further uphold their masculinized perception of power. And thanks to the media’s obsession with spewing out untamed moral protocols for women to follow, women are left stifled, confused, and shamefaced.

Let’s face it: Black women are given the laborious responsibility of constantly entertaining the Black male gaze. Little attention is given to the exploration of female sexuality outside of this purview. In other words, in order to understand Black female sexuality, we must first internalize how to cater to the masculinity of Black men. As you can tell, this reasoning is a deeply flawed understanding on how both representations of power intersect and interact.

What about women who are anti-establishment? Or Black women who practice sex-positive feminism? Should women aspire to only please Black men? Since when did submission become the only way to exert femininity? “Ratchet Commandments” leaves many questions unanswered and normalizes the traditional model of Black womanhood. There is a clear difference between Tink’s song and offering a well-rounded, careful critique on the dangers of seeking validation outside of oneself. But as we can see, the track blasts women who don’t fit into a conventional model of Black female expression.

Instead of mangling the already misrecognized experiences of Black female sexuality, I maintain the belief that Black women can be sex positive too. Men rarely, if at all, are given “commandments” to abide by. And if they are, they’re normally predicated on the idea that the inherent subservience of women is pivotal to coming of age. False!

We don’t need any more slut-shaming tracks. We don’t need any more gendered respectability tracks. Black women are tired of only seeing themselves as objects rather than subjects. Let Black women learn to be Black women without shame.

Let Black women live.

Photo: YouTube

Brittany Dawson is a regular contributor at For Harriet. She is a senior at the University of South Carolina who is passionate about equality, social justice, and education. You may follow her on Twitter: @BrittanyJDawson.

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