This Is What the Protest Against Rick Ross’ Rape Lyric Was Like

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This afternoon, about 50 people gathered at Rebook’s New York flagship store, located in the midtown neighborhood where Times Square tapers into Koreatown, to ask the company to fire Rick Ross as their spokesperson after his guest verse on Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O” included the line, Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/ I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it. The lyric has been followed by a string of non-apologies. Women’s group UltraViolet organized the protest and distributed purple signs after collecting “about 72,000″ signatures on an online petition.

When I arrived, there was a thin crowd, comprised predominately of white women under 35. Two speakers—a rep from a New York NOW chapter and Wagatwe Wanjuki, an activist and rape survivor—had already given short speeches. “I came today to speak about my experience with sexual violence,” Wanjuki said after her address, “and to talk about [Ross'] apology, him saying he didn’t use the word rape. Rape is rape no matter what you call it.” A 20-something man in a tie walked by and asked me what was going on. “Who’s Rick Ross?” he asked after my explanation.

UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas said her organization has rallied against Reebok and Ross because the rapper is so well known. She said:

It’s true that other people have rapped about this subject before. But it’s rare that someone with a following like he has would be so brazen about rapping literally about drugging and raping someone. We saw this as an opportunity to make a comment about rape culture and to give people a way to say, This isn’t cool. As a culture, we need to figure out a way to make sure that we’re not sending the message to boys and men that it’s okay to rape. I think women have had enough.

Thomas also dismissed Ross’ renewed effort today to diffuse the criticism (minutes before the demonstration’s start, he wrote on Twitter, “I dont condone rape. Apologies for the #lyric interpreted as rape. #BOSS,”). “I saw his tweet today, saying that he’s apologized that people interpret the lyric as rape. I think that exposes that he’s feeling a lot of pressure, which is great,” she said. “I think it also exposes that he doesn’t get it. He clearly doesn’t understand that what he was rapping about is rape. That speaks to a personal problem that he has and a broader problem in our culture. Look at the Steubenville rape trial. I’d guess that the two boys who were prosecuted and convicted recently were probably shocked that it wasn’t okay to have sex with someone who couldn’t consent while under the influence of alcohol. We need to have a big conversation about that in this country.”

Four cops lingered on the curb, leaning against a squad car. “Our boss sent us down, just in case,” one said. As the crowd dispersed, Reebok employees flanked the entrance to the store—I couldn’t tell if it was closed or just empty. I asked one guard what the store’s staff had done to prepare for the gathering. He said I’d have to ask Reebok’s corporate PR, but agreed the afternoon had been “pretty mellow.” His deflection was in line with Reebok’s silence to the controversy so far. “They haven’t engaged us at all,” Thomas said, “and that’s pretty much been their position since the beginning. They have not responded to us nor any journalist.”

I asked the speaker Wanjuki about similarly upsetting lyrics from Tyler, the Creator and Eminem, and she said, “[They] are not different. We need to start calling out every instance that we see. We shouldn’t ignore misogyny or hate language that happens now because we let it slide in the past.”

POSTED April 4, 2013 4:42PM IN MUSIC NEWS Comments (14) TAGS: ,

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COMMENTS

  1. thesteaksishigh says:

    People that can not distinguish between a character or dramatization and real life deserve neither the explanation nor the attention they desire.

  2. BigD says:

    <blockquote cite="People that can not distinguish between a character or dramatization and real life deserve neither the explanation nor the attention they desire."

    Your quote goes both ways. Most of the morons that listen to Rick Ross' shitty music no doubt lack the ability to distinguish between the two and it's highly conceivable that at least one of his listeners will take this up as a suggestion and DO it. Hell. He even tells them what drug to use.

    In any case hiding behind a "character" is a bullshit cop out. Fuck that hack.

    Tell me how you'd feel if you little sister or girlfriend got drugged and raped because some idiot in "character" gave the idea to someone?

  3. vidhisha says:

    right, so literally go destroy every movie / tv show / art form that has ever displayed rape.

  4. astralgirl01 says:

    Preach, BigD… thanks for speaking up.

    And what does it matter that the protesters were “predominantly White women?” Ironically, in the first pic, there’s a woman of color and two men. Do you think that because Black women or other “visible” women of color weren’t there, it’s not an important issue? I’m a Black woman who also signed UltraViolet’s petition, but I was not able to make the protest because I have a 9-5 job… but I still think that Rick Ross needs to be fired for that b.s. I’m glad that ANYONE is speaking out against any entertainer that uses rape in their messaging….

  5. GKO says:

    @vidhisha

    Wanna make a list of all the movies/tv shows/art that portray rape as OK?

  6. Abacus says:

    Fader, I know you aren’t exactly known for “quality journalism” but this article is a sloppy mess with hints of condescension. Come on.

  7. Deb Chouinard says:

    Vidhisha: You are correct that displaying rape can be an art form, if it is exposed as assault. Rick Ross’ song brags about easy, non-consensual rape. Indeed, are there women in your life for whom rape might be excusable as you have suggested here?

    It will be many years before women are safe and equal. Republican men want to own us; Democratic men want us to be liberated whores. Where O where are Real Men who have courage to stand up for us?

  8. Deb Chouinard says:

    Thank you, Big D. Your comments are necessary and appreciated.

  9. Jus Cuz says:

    Dudes from my hood in Florida believe Rick Ross’ career is coming to an end soon. These guys supported Rick Ross throughout the 50 Cent beef, even after it was confirmed that Rick Ross was, in fact, a corrections officer. They supported him, partly because he was a Florida artist on the rise, and because songs like ‘Mafia Music,’ where he painted himself as a tough guy who “walked out on a gig and turned to the streets.” Although Ross was talking about roofing work earlier in the song, people took this as a reference to his work as a CO. Some people still believed that Rick Ross was the person he portrayed himself to be, while others didn’t care as long as the music sounded authtentic. Then came the beef with the Gangster Disciples, a nationwide gang formed in Chicago. Numerous Youtube videos began showing up with GD members telling Rick Ross not to perform in their cities. Many of these places Rick Ross was “forbidden” to perform (Tennesse, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and especially Florida) were southern states where Rick Ross has strong fan support. Ross did not help his image by cancelling concerts in some of these states and, instead made himself look weak in the face of the threats. It would be cool for an artist like Justin Beiber to cancel shows in the face of gang threats, but for an artist like Rick Ross, who built his reputation on being a tough guy, it is unacceptable. Rick Ross, unlike Lil Wayne who has a large mainstream following not based on his street cred, cannot afford to lose his credibilty in the streets, because he may not be able to survive without it. He just recently began to reach the mainstream, but has not yet solidified himself as a household name. This is evinced by the 20-something man who asked the reporter, “Who’s Rick Ross?” Now with these date rape lyrics, Ross has further alienated some of his potential mainstream fan base. Hopefully this incident will make Rick Ross take more seriously the impact of his lyrics and issue a more sincere apology to rape victims and organizations like Ultra Violent.

  10. Mr. Hideous says:

    Not all women are liberated and open-minded and those who are look exactly like men and act similar. Like not all men are rapists!

  11. OTHER says:

    MOLLY ISNT A DATE RAPE DRUG. I REPEAT, MOLLY ISNT A DATE RAPE DRUG. If the girl he took home, in fact took Molly she would be well aware of what was going on and perhaps would still end up going home with him if she partook in any other recreational drugs with Ross. Y’all birds need some better to do with your life than to worry about groupies being groupies..

    Peace

  12. thesteaksishigh says:

    I laugh at the paranoia that a lyric will inspire rapes in it’s name. I laugh at you people who take time to be offended at what other people say and draw correlations to hypothetical instances that never actually happen. You underestimate humanity because you’re too busy drawing a line between you and “others”, dehumanizing them to say they follow what any lyric tells them to do. No one’s really that stupid but you like to think so because you would never do that but “others” would do that because they’re less of a human being than you. Your logic is ridiculous.

  13. Deb Chouinard says:

    SteaksIsHigh:
    Why do participants point a finger just like you did (with your words “you people”)? We think we see something others don’t see. We think a little bit of insult will draw attention.

  14. Reich 1010 says:

    Well who the hell know’s what molly is for one. Don’t get me wrong I really do not like nor listen to rap music and I only know the slang terms because of nieces and nephews. However, many young women will do ANYTHING to be in a video with these rappers, kids imitate them so they are not role models. But on the other hand, they said women under the age of 35 was protesting. How many times do you hear about some airhead going to a club and “like OMG, like he was so fine, like I was totally into him”. By the 3rd drink they can’t remember what they wore to the club. I doubt a whole bunch of rape is going on. Now if RESPECT was more popular amongst, men/women, young/old, many of these problems would not exist.