In a video shot for the online presence of XXL Magazine, rapper Too $hort said:
When you get to late middle school, early high school and you start feeling a certain way about the girls. I’m gonna tell you a couple tricks… A lot of the boys are going to be running around trying to get kisses from the girls. We’re going way past that. I’m taking you to the hole….[Push her] up against the wall or [pull] her up against you while you lean on the wall. Take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens.
So. Here we have a grown man of some renown advising pre-teen and teenaged boys to sexually assault girls. Which, you know: Awesome.
Initially, Too $hort appeared to apologize on Twitter, if with a certain lack of understanding, explaining that he’d been “in character” and had gotten carried away, but he changed tack fairly quickly, essentially lashing out at those who took the video as anything other than a joke.
Which, you know: Awesome. (And hence my reference to him here).
In the meantime, having been swamped with responses, reactions, stories and no little anger, Too $hort (nee Todd Shaw) gave an interview to Dream Hampton, a writer with Ebony and one of the women involved in WeAreThe44% (a reference to statistics that show that 44% of American girls are assaulted before their 18th birthday). This time, here was what Too $hort said:
I just wanted to reach out because I had been truly disturbed by this whole thing as far as me putting this out there like that. I’m not trying to make this go away or trying to make this right or anything. I understand completely….
When I taped the XXL video, my goal was that this was some kind of comedy piece. So I am sitting there and the thing that I am saying is actually reminiscent of when we as little boys were being bad and (what) we were doing something or learning or practicing. But now I’m understanding that it’s actually it’s a form of sexual assault. And it’s crazy that I’m just now understanding this.
I’m not going to lie to you…my eyes are opening just from reading the comments, the stuff that is coming from people. They say stuff like, “Does he get it?” I’m reading it and I am starting to get it.
….I hate that this had to come out like this but I really feel blessed. I feel like I am going to kick in and kick back a lot positive energy in something that I have been kicking out a lot of negative energy in a lot of years…I am not expecting anyone to say “I forgive you” or anything in that nature. It may not be the biggest mistake in my life, but it was a major mistake, looking at the camera and saying those words.
We have this tendency to not allow for change, to not believe in it. The one, worst, most terrible thing that a person ever said or did? That’s it. That’s who that person is, now and forever more, amen.
But this interview (as well as the one Too $hort later gave to allhiphop.com) shows the sheer, self-destructive stupidity of that. People can listen. People can learn new ideas. People can change.
And if we don’t allow them to do so, if we don’t believe them, if we reduce people to their worst moments — we fail in our own path. And we fail those we would hope to protect.
As a woman who has suffered her own share of passing, casual, low-level assaults and harassments, as the mother of a girl, as the friend and loved one of women who have been assaulted and raped at all stages of life, and as a former rape crisis counselor, I am very clear on what we need to stop rape: We need men.
Women and girls can learn, to a certain degree, to protect ourselves, but bottom line, the people doing the raping are the ones who have to stop. And they will not do so until enough men come along like Too $hort who say “Hold on. I didn’t get it before, but now I do. I’m sorry.”
I’m grateful beyond measure to the women who organized on this issue, to Dream Hampton for conducting the interview and using it as an opportunity to tell yet more truth (read the whole thing here), and to Too $hort, for apologizing and meaning it. Sometimes there’s no way out but through — I’m grateful that he’s decided to push on through.
h/t my internet buddy thewayoftheid