Yesterday, The New York Times published an editorial
about Dr. Dre’s history of violence against women, which included his public apology to his victims.
Dr. Dre’s open regret comes in light of the biopic, Straight Outta Compton
, which showcases the rap mogul’s rise to the top with his hip-hop group, N.W.A., who went on to become one of the most influential musicians of the genre in the late 80s.
“Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in over my head with no real structure in my life. However, none of this is an excuse for what I did. I’ve been married for 19 years and every day I’m working to be a better man for my family, seeking guidance along the way. I’m doing everything I can do I never resemble that man again.
“I apologize to the women I’ve hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives.”
Dr. Dre’s case is the latest to be brought to the forefront of Hollywood, largely in part because of social media, and demonstrates the power divide between genders that still exists today. But what makes Dr. Dre’s case unique is that it exemplifies the social rule gender has over race and that, even as a black man who faces racial oppression in a white society, Dr. Dre’s masculinity gives him the command to silence his female victims for decades following the abuse.
This social prejudice of gender trumping race is an issue that feminists have been battling for decades, and it’s evidenced by some of today’s most popular physical and sexual abuse cases made against notorious stars. Despite public accusations and legal action taken against Bill Cosby, Chris Brown and R. Kelly – who are all prized talent in their respective entertainment fields – their celebrity statuses continues to remain high.
These men are excellent examples of how masculinity overpowers femininity – even in the context of racial minorities – in addition to demonstrating the influence the male anatomy has on public perception and journalistic integrity (or lack there of). Socially, these celebrities are regarded as saints of the entertainment world while their victims – some of whom are just as famous as they are – are dubbed as overly emotional fools attempting to elevate their own status.
The women at the centre of the allegations made against Dr. Dre – hip-hop journalist, Dee Barnes; Michel’le, an R&B singer and Dr. Dre’s former girlfriend; and Tairrie B a.k.a Tairrie Murphy, a onetime labelmate – spoke to The New York Times
about how Straight Outta Compton
was “revisionist history”, adding if it wanted to be as gangster as it tries to present itself it would have “been to show everything.”
No doubt a witch-hunt is brewing against these women – both by the media and die-hard fans of Dr. Dre and N.W.A. – who will brand these women as money-hungry-fame-seekers rather than targets of a cowardly man who is incapable of controlling himself.
Blaming the victim is a tale as old as time, but promoting dialogue that alerts us of the power that gender has over race in the context of physical abuse is a truth the mainstream needs to talk more about. It also brings up the idea that the media, which is heavily run by white heterosexual males, will disregard its dominance over all minorities as a means of strengthening the male gender’s sway on society. In this case, it’s the media siding with Dr. Dre because of his gender and social influence, which ultimately compromises the credibility and voice his female victims.
And if you think that justice is served to the victims because the media brings their stories into the spotlight, think again. Over time, these allegations are quickly forgotten and the abusers remain just as influential as ever, with their fan base growing even more dedicated than they were before (please refer to Bill Cosby, Chris Brown, R. Kelly, Sean Penn, Mike Tyson, Woody Allen, Eminem, Michael Fassbender, Sean Connery and Tommy Lee for a refresher).
So instead of letting history repeat itself, society needs to bring these stars to justice instead of turning a blind eye because of their social status. We need to listen, learn and act on what the victims of Dr. Dre are telling us instead of labelling them and refusing to learn from a lesson that continues to perpetuate Hollywood today.