Why I'm proud of Kitty Pryde: The problem with rap culture and sexual assault
When a male rapper is subject to onstage sexual assault, Floridian rapper Kitty Pryde speaks out for musicians all over
The rap community caught fire last week when video surfaced of Detroit rapper Danny Brown, currently on tour with Florida’s Kitty Pryde, receiving unsolicited oral sex while performing onstage at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis, Minn. Some are stating that Brown “asked for it” while others deem the incident a case of molestation or even rape. Kitty, leaning toward the latter, sparked a heated debate in the community on Wednesday by coming to Brown’s defense via an editorial on Noisey, admonishing any claims that the act was warranted by Brown.
Kitty is right — video of the sexual act shows that the act comes out of nowhere, though Brown keeps rapping right through it, backing away from the edge of the stage at the end of his bar. It takes a few watch-throughs to figure out what’s happening, but it’s evident that this is one of the first times that, in an age of constant documentation, we see a man as the subject of a sexual assault. But make no mistake — what Kitty has done, what she has said, and her stance on the subject, outside of Brown being her tour-mate, is more brave and eloquent in its presentation than most approaches to the topic.
Why it is easier to listen to Kitty than anyone else doesn’t lie in the fact that she’s a female white rapper and friend of Brown’s, as some blog-commenting detractors have said. Rather, those factors couldn’t be farther from the reason, as her association plays no role in the circumstances of the incident. It’s the self-deprecating and frank nature of Kitty’s music — it’s the fact that as a rapper, Kitty has never tried to be one of the boys, and has never had to inject her music with misplaced bravado to appeal to her crowd, and her heavily grounded lyrical stylings are now less a part of her charm and more a part of her relatable image. She is opening up a dialectic rather than an attack.
For those waiting for Brown to make a statement, don’t hold your breath — there’s not a lot he could say that wouldn’t make at least a portion of his fan base question his masculinity, but those who take the time to listen know what the situation is now. While the conversation that Kitty presents calls into question the way that race, gender, and masculinity are viewed by society, she’s also talking about the way in which rappers are viewed.
Simply put, there’s no denying that this is molestation in public form, if not outright rape. The machismo that is so prevalent throughout rap, though it’s been questioned as of late, prevented Brown from being viewed as the victim — at least until Kitty made a series of eloquent points that opened eyes to the darker side of what could just be written off as the “antics” of a famous rapper.Kitty is also speaking for a group of solo musical acts that have been subject to similar sexual assault, such as Iggy Azalea’s admission of fans “trying to finger fuck me through my shorts” in a MySpace interview with Rebecca Haithcoat earlier this week. As if labeling it something to just be expected, she gives the interview equivalent of a shrug and wraps up with, “I got violated on stage and what can you fucking do?”
It’s the bold presentation of a lack of responsibility regarding this behavior in a live setting. As just a random face in a crowd, it should be more an inherent ideal that the performer is a performer for the sake of the music, and not be subjected to whatever else the fan wants to take away, or simply take, from the musician. It’s assault, no matter which way you cut it up. Such behavior is not worth the apathy it’s associated with — it’s worth taking responsibility for, whether we’re calling out the attackers, or the artists are simply arming themselves against such ignorant fans. Sexual assault in a live setting should never be the norm, and victims of either sex should be viewed as just that — victims.
Like Kitty, Iggy should be able to strap on Doc Martens and kick would-be groping frat boys in the face. Similarly, Kitty should be viewed as a poignant voice in a culture that is stereotyped by those not intimate with its inner workings as ignorant and lacking artistry. Let’s not forget that Brown reacted as appropriately as possible in the moment, as he could do nothing but back away from the situation as Kitty states in her editorial, rather than exacerbating it by initiating any other contact.
Be proud of Kitty, and don’t think that she’s only entitled to this opinion as a white female rapper that can’t even legally buy a beer — she’s willing to say more than most rappers or journalists in her field, despite where she comes from and who she is.
— K.C. Libman is the arts & life editor for the Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter via @KristianCLibman.