David Banner, Sit Down: We Are Tired of Men Policing Our Respectability

by Anna Gibson David Banner recently came under fire for his comments regarding women on Twitter. In a short series of tweets, he stat...

by Anna Gibson

David Banner recently came under fire for his comments regarding women on Twitter. In a short series of tweets, he stated, “If you want a man that respects the way you think then show more mind than ass. If you cater to the savage qualities of a man why are you surprised that he continues to be savage? That is how you got him.”

David Banner is a hypocrite.

Not only do the lyrics from some of his prior greatest hits completely objectify women, but his recent statements on women’s respectability are also problematic. They perpetuate the age-old notion that women have been trying to fight against for years: that women are somehow less than men and should behave in a certain manner in order to garner respect. This leads to constant sexist policing and the disparaging of a woman’s character due to the choices she makes about her body.

For Banner to say, “If you cater to the savage qualities of a man why are you surprised that he continues to be savage?” indicates that he believes men behave in sexist ways because we make them, allowing them to treat us poorly. He raps about using women as objects on one hand, but his recent thoughts on Twitter reprimands them for their sexual choices and agency on the other. This is a consequence of sexism and misogyny.

His comments, taken to the extreme, also bear a striking similarity to the victim-blaming we so often see in our rape culture. How often do we see a rape survivor held guilty for causing her own rape? If she chooses to report the crime and is questioned by the police, the queries focus on what she’s wearing, if she took a drink from anyone, if she was out late, and so forth. However, the man’s self-control isn’t in any way questioned. Many people believe that, ultimately, it’s her fault that she dressed in a way that provoked a man to sexually brutalize her.

David Banner is perpetuating the same train of thought. As black women, he believes it’s somehow our job to constantly pander to his ideal of what a woman should be. And any choices we make to present ourselves must be done in a way that draws respect from men. In this way, our sexual agency and the ways in which we choose to express our sexuality are looked down upon if they are not accommodating the male gaze.

An additional layer to black men choosing to castigate women for their choice of sexual agency can be found in something called the pecking order theory. Psychologically speaking, this involves a person hurting or oppressing a person they deem to be below them, especially when they are being oppressed themselves. With the way black men are oppressed in our society, they may feel the need to derive some form of control and oppression over someone even more marginalized than them. Taking this to its logical conclusion, misogynoir and machismo are simply other ways for black men to gain control over another group and alleviate the lack of respect they experience structurally. The consequence of this is a form of sexist respectability politics that creates disconnect and mistrust between black men and black women. Since black women ride so hard for black men, this only serves to erode our trust and make us more distant. So how will we push men like David Banner and others from disparaging our choice of sexual expression?

A great example comes from singer Janelle Monae. Recently, Monae had to put a male fan in his place on Twitter after he said that she was “fine… but too damn soulful.” In response, Monae tweeted, “Sit down. I’m not for male consumption.”

Why do black men feel the need to scrutinize and comment on the choices we make with our bodies? Men have been policing women for centuries, telling us how we should dress and act. We have to show them that this is unacceptable behavior and demonstrate that we won’t take it anymore.

The truth is: whether women are twerking or studying, wearing a thong bikini or a business suit, we are still valuable. Women exist for more than to be scrutinized under the male gaze, or to be subordinate to men. We have our own lives, our own desires, and we shouldn’t be shamed for our choices. Banner’s focus on women’s respectability to improve the kind of relationships we’re in missed the mark. Instead of focusing on policing women’s bodies and agency, he should’ve focused his message on mutual equality and respect, which is what should be established in order for real relationships to flourish.

It’s time men realize it’s not our responsibility to carry the burdens of their sexism.

Photo: BET

Anna Gibson is a freelance journalist, Theravada Buddhist, and student at Wayne State University that seeks to illuminate stories on the margins of society. You can catch up with her on Twitter @TheRealSankofa or on Facebook where she’s hiding under the name Introspective Inquiries.

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