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SEXIST BEATDOWN: When a Tornado Meets a Volcano Meets a G-Chat Client Edition

Relationships! Those are important, right? Sure they are. And you know, guys: Sometimes relationships end. Sometimes things happen! Terrible things! And the people, they just have to move on!


That’s right: Our long national nightmare is over. Behold, the triumphant return of Sexist Beatdown! In which the incredible cross-blogging G-chatting team of Amanda Hess (of the lovely new site TBD — bookmarks, bookmarks!) and Doyle are reunited (but not in a Marshall & Kim Mathers kind of way) to discuss the breaking issues of the day. OR, whatever we’re not sick of talking about lately. And hey, speaking of…



AMANDA: I am fucking pumped to be talking about how sexy domestic violence is! And catchy!
SADY: Indeed! With such movingly sung hooks, from actual domestic violence victims if at all possible.
AMANDA: Only the best.
SADY: This is the thing that kills me about the Eminem/Rihanna/Megan Fox collabo (ASIDE FROM THE FACT THAT IT COVERS LITERALLY ALL OF MY PURPORTED INTERESTS: The video would have to star, like, a sentient beatboxing bottle of bourbon to cover more bases for me)… the use of Rihanna to endow more Real-World-Relevance to the otherwise sad and hobbity scenario.
AMANDA: Yeah, I mean I think that her presence on the track is what really has confused things. Because otherwise it’s JUST ANOTHER EMINEM SONG GLORIFYING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Except in the other ones, he would play the role of domestic violence victim as well by adopting his condescending lady voice! This one however is much more serious.
SADY: Right. And, I mean, it’s getting so much credit based on this Seriousness. What it reminds me of, honestly, is “Stan.” That song where, after years of recording ridiculous over-the-top fantasies of killing his wife and everyone close to her and stuffing her in a trunk and disposing of her body, there’s a song in which a fan of Eminem is like, “hey, that’s not a half-bad idea! For I too am an unstable lady-hating freak of nature!” And Eminem is like, “whoa. That is fucked up.”
Except… he apparently doesn’t feel that way? Because right after he’s done recording the song where he feels all bad about his Accountability As An Artist, he goes back to the murder fantasies?
AMANDA: Haha. Oh God I love when Eminem steps in to teach us lessons.
SADY: Right. Like, “and here’s a valuable teaching moment where I tell you not to murder people. Now, if you actually stew in my incredibly popular brand of lady-hate to the point that you hurt a lady, it is not on me!”
AMANDA: And… it is actually kind of the cycle of domestic violence that Eminem is enacting, on us? Abuse, contrition, abuse, contrition . . . surely in his grand scheme to make us all Understand what it’s like? And make us continue to buy his records?
SADY: Right! It’s that whole thing where he’s JUST. SO. TROUBLED, and there’s this incredibly push-pull thing of “oh, I feel so much of the pain! And the self-loathing! I am a self-reflective dude” and then right on back to the terror.
The duet with Elton John is sort of like the buy-you-flowers-after-punching-you-in-the-face moment with the queer folks, and the Rihanna thing is his “I’m so sorry baby” moment with the ladies, and… Why do we keep buying it? They aren’t even very good flowers!
AMANDA: They are like from Walgreens. And all the talk about this song is about how important it is to “break down the cycle of domestic violence” so we understand how it works, but to what end? Eminem has clearly been through the cycle—he married and divorced Kim twice—and knowing how it works is a lot different from knowing how to stop it.
SADY: Right. And it’s still all focused on his own subjectivity. Where, like, the way a lot of people treat abusers? Particularly habitual or chronic ones? Is to continually confront them with the fact that THEIR SUBJECTIVITY IS NOT WORKING FOR THEM. Their subjectivity is a knotty, traitorous thing that keeps coming up with rationalizations for the damage they’re doing to other folks. So getting into Eminem’s Feelings about how he “laid hands on” someone (who is very probably Kim) isn’t actually doing much but inviting empathy. It’s not getting outside of the cycle, at all. (“Treat abusers,” in this case, meaning “condition them not to be abusers any more.” Not, like, “generally relate to” or “take them out for ice cream.”)
AMANDA: And then the only thing we get from Rihanna is “I’m asking for it.” They’re both equally responsible for the relationship here—he sets her on fire, she loves it.
SADY: Ha, right. And, I mean, in some way, I like those lyrics? They’re interpretable in one way as “do it to me, you sexy degrader of my human worth.” But the other interpretation, the one that stuck out to me, was that so many women in these relationships are like, “I can’t leave! I love him!” Or, unbelievable as it may sound, “I can’t leave! I don’t know if I could do better!” That bit actually stands out as semi-real, the way she’s so unsure that she does NOT deserve to be plunged in the fires of Mount Shady that she’s actually convinced that she wants that on some level.
AMANDA: True. I agree. And she’s gotten a lot of shit for being on this song, when I’ve always thought that the problem isn’t that Rihanna is on this Eminem song, but rather that Eminem is on this Eminem song.
SADY: Haha, yes. It’s a depressingly common problem!
AMANDA: Some groups think it’s irresponsible for her to sing on this track, as a victim, but I think it’s actually irresponsible for a Celebrity Abuser to make his whole career out of murderin’ ladies? Call me old fashioned.
SADY: Right! I mean, Lord knows that Rihanna has enough to do without becoming The World’s Number One Most Responsible Abuse Survivor, Who Can Fix Abuse Forever, By Acting In A Way Befitting Someone Who Has Been Abused. I’m just really kind of depressed that this whole issue, that of Domestic Abuse, is so trivial that Eminem can wash his hands of it forever by dipping into the vaguely-folk-rock-soundy/dark-hair/lack-of-semi-Jamaican-accent/soulful-hook-from-lady-singer end of the Eminem Cliche Pool. Like, this song is interesting, and all? But for the LOVE OF CRACKERS, he has done it like seventeen times already! It is what he cranks out before breakfast, while preparing to record yet another song about masturbating onto pictures of Miley Cyrus or whatever!
AMANDA: Yeah, he’s just being celebrated for writing a song that’s just a touch more morally ambiguous than the usual.
SADY: At least he didn’t do the “also, have you heard that I am a father” thing on this one. Because that’s a pull on Ye Olde Heartstrings that never fails to go amiss for me.
AMANDA: Like, well you only promised to kill her. You didn’t do it yet!
SADY: Right! He seems less enthused about killing, this time around! Eminem: Now Slightly Less Enthused About Killing.
AMANDA: Not Actually Bringing His Daughter To Dump His Wife’s Body Into A Lake This Time
SADY: This Time, He’s Not Taunting The Corpse!
AMANDA: Hired Someone Else to Beat Up Megan Fox
SADY: Truly, we have made huge strides, in the Eminem murder ballad arena. Although I will note that, on this album, there IS a genuine and heartfelt apology to someone in his life for doing them wrong. It is on the track where he admits to once thinking about recording a diss track about Lil’ Wayne.
AMANDA: Mon Dieu.
SADY: “To anybody I thought about going at, it was never nothing personal, just some shit that I was going through,” quoth the Eminem. As opposed to “Love the Way You Lie,” in which it is clear that he could have done nothing else. It is what happens when a tornado meets a volcano meets a stunning lack of personal accountability and/or fucking backbone!
AMANDA: Also horrible lyrics.
SADY: Those play a part in the matter, as well! So now we know that all Kim Mathers has to do is to become a respected and popular recording artist. And then Eminem will publicly apologize for saying terrible shit about her all the time. Seems like an easy enough solution!


  1. of making many books wrote:

    first comment?, just to say that I never noticed that TBD as in Tiger Beatdown and TBD as in To Be Determined were the same acronym! Unless it MEANS that AMANDA HESS will join TIGER BEATDOWN?!!

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Permalink
  2. of making many books wrote:

    forgive my ignorance; I have since learned that is a website. Also, DO NOT READ ANY COMMENTS ON SADY’S ARTICLE IN THE ATLANTIC.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Permalink
  3. 01d55 wrote:

    The return of sexist-beatdown entails the return of a handy reference to the works of Amanda Heiss!

    Also, hooray gchat! People rag on me for using only that and no other IM service.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Permalink
  4. kristinc wrote:

    Oh, yes, the precious comments from pants-soiling Eminem fanboys in the Atlantic article. They are something else! (I am talking like Sady!) Guys genuinely SO FREAKED THE FUCK OUT about A woman opening her trap and criticizing Marshall “Piece of Shit” Mathers that they absolutely cannot contain themselves.

    Anyway. I actually commented to say, Sady and Amanda, thank you both so much for doing Sexist Beatdown. It’s truly a unique and delightful thing, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be so sad without it. It regularly leaves me snorting with helpless laughter and at the same time a little overwhelmed by how apropos and smart it all is.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Permalink
  5. Keshi wrote:

    Thank you for this edition of sexist beatdown Sady & Amanda, good to have you back!

    I recently watching this film clip (then felt really pissed off for about an hour and wished for some brain bleach). The song and clip are written from the delusional point of view of an abuser. Perpetuating all of the common damaging cultural narratives about DV such as she asked for it, he lost control, she doesnt leave therefore must like it.
    And the sexualisation of DV? dont even get me started. She is so turned on by the way you just threw her up against a wall.
    It is just so yucky and all of the praise eminem is getting for raising this important issue and his supposed contrition makes me sick.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Permalink
  6. Ennu wrote:


    …I feel slightly better now.

    But seriously, were you linked to a fan site of his and got flooded with trolls or something? I was under the impression that, like, EVERYONE hated that guy! I feel like I was just transported into some horrible bizzaro world where a hateful, bleach-haired asshole gets to scream into a microphone about killing women and people defend it as art–and then when someone points out how hateful and asshole-y it is, people call HER the “psycho.”

    I’m scared for the world.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 4:47 am | Permalink
  7. Yay Sexist Beatdown! Yay Amanda! Yay Sady! Yay EminNO WAIT.

    Yeah, I’m not at all familiar with the Eminem oeuvre, but I did watch the video so I could make sense of the Atlantic article, and it was strange. I felt like he was saying, ‘The abuse in this relationship is just this thing that happens, like a natural disaster, completely beyond anybody’s power to stop, so you really can’t blame anybody for it, and anyway it’s mostly her fault.’ Hmm.

    Anyway, Yay Sexist Beatdown! is the main point.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 6:35 am | Permalink
  8. Victoria wrote:

    This song is a departure for Eminem only in that it suggests a vague awareness that an abuser’s actions may affect a person other than the abuser, like “Stan,” as you all said. (Though it’s still focused almost entirely on the abuser, as per usual.)

    The fact that this very slight toe-tip into the pool of empathy and humanity somehow gives him credibility is the saddest thing I can say about Eminem and his doofy, rabid fans.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 10:31 am | Permalink
  9. Lady D wrote:

    Regarding the comments on the Atlantic piece: Garland Grey, I think I love you.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 11:07 am | Permalink
  10. Megan wrote:

    YAYYYY!!!! SO happy to have The Sexist Beatdown back!!!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Permalink
  11. DancesWithCats wrote:

    Oh god in heaven, I wish I’d heeded the advice in comment #2. The comments are pants-crappingly horrible.

    But the article is great! As always!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink
  12. DancesWithCats wrote:

    Okay, I went back (urgh) to read Garland Grey’s comments over there. They totally gave me back my will to live.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Permalink
  13. Eneya wrote:

    Eminem was cool, a long time ago, like when I was in high school.
    Now he is just boring.
    Dude… get a life, move on and stop yaping about Kim.
    I always thought that even if a hair falls down from her head, this dude was going to be the main suspect and end in jail forever. I mean, he is creepy, abusive and somewhat ingenious for turning “Dea r diary, I am a hige prick and I hate my wife” into a multimilion success.

    But still… he is the physical embodiment of the word “pathetic”.

    Also, abuse is abuse, it is NOT romantic, it is not cool and it is time to stop glamorizing it, pop producers.
    In one word – meh.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink
  14. Orcawhales wrote:

    Great article, and thanks for this edition of sexist beatdown. I haven’t read the comments at the Atlantic but sadly I’m not that surprised to hear that there are many Eminem supporters. I once commented to a friend (while she was listening to Eminem as we were driving) that Eminem’s lyrics could sometimes be misogynist. She didn’t seem to understand, so I elaborated, and she responded that I don’t know if that’s “how he feels inside.” I just gave up at that point.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  15. Samantha B. wrote:

    Clearly the Atlantic commenters need to band together to produce some an aesthetic treatise that will quickly revolutionize the field! Art is art because it generates no response and has no truth. How neatly they’ve overthrown millennia of philosophical ruminations! Holy fuck, that’s clever.

    And, to the dude who’s so concerned with anti-white racism: Eminem sells quite a bit more than Jay Z, Snoop Dogg, and other black rappers, which would tend to suggest that he’s in a position to have more societal impact, perhaps? But good on ya for your valiant defense of the ever-vulnerable filthy rich white man.

    *More importantly,* I am too flaky to find Amanda at TBD. Is she in the Arts Blog section? Big fat web mysteries abound.

    Sunday, September 5, 2010 at 8:40 am | Permalink
  16. AMC wrote:

    Hey, just wondering why my comment didn’t go through? I don’t think I said anything offensive, I just kinda offered some extra info to help along the commentary. Did it get lost?

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink
  17. AMC wrote:

    Yeah, I agree this song shouldn’t “speak” for people who experienced DV. Just some info:

    1.) In their relationship there was mutual violence.
    2.) There was alot of makeup sex and angry sex in their relationship. I don’t think you can say he’s making DV sexy-in his experience it just was. “The more that you slap me, the more that it turns me on” he raps in Love You More which is LTWYL Part 1, with More Sex. For them sex and violence were intertwined, so that’s why you see it in the video.

    3.)The song is about his experiences. It’s not a PSA, it’s not a warning, it’s his own feelings.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Permalink
  18. CassieC wrote:

    Right, AMC, and this is different from many domestic abuse situations how? And it excuses any of Eminem’s actions, including the murder-fantasy songs, how?

    Here’s how it works with grown-ups: you don’t hit or abuse people you are in a relationship with, and if it starts happening, you try to get help and get out. Not whine about it and glorify it and say “it was her fault too and by the way also we had sex so I can’t be a horrible person.”

    Friday, September 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Permalink
  19. kristinc wrote:

    “In their relationship there was mutual violence.”

    This is a bog-standard excuse/minimization for a batterer to make. As far as I’m concerned, the claim is a red flag in itself.

    Friday, September 10, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Permalink
  20. AMC wrote:

    @Cassiec Had you read my post completely, you would note that I didn’t say it made his violence okay but I realize she beat him too. I don’t have anything to defend here, I’m just adding in background. If you want to attack an Eminem apologist, there are plenty out there you can find. I find it uncomfortable to discuss women abusing men physically, since it is often used by MRA’s to say “SEE!? Womenz hurt us 2!” But I realize we must discuss it, and that it was relevant so I posted.

    Friday, September 10, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Permalink
  21. AMC wrote:

    @Kristinc No. By all accounts she beat him brutally for years before he hit back, including smashing his head into a mirror. This in no way justifies his behavior-but that’s why I like the song. From an OUTside perspective, he’s an abuser justifying his actions.
    But from the perspective of an Eminem fan, he’s changing the view that she was the only bad one.

    Friday, September 10, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Permalink
  22. CassieC wrote:

    No, AMC, on this website we “must” not discuss it, because everyone realizes it isn’t relevant. That’s the nice thing about blogs with brains.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 1:44 am | Permalink
  23. AMC wrote:

    @Cassiec Huh? I’m not sure where your venom is coming from. I simply added it in because it’s relevant to why the video was created as it was, and turns the conversation into a broader dialogue on DV, in one of the few places where we can do so without worrying it will be used by MRA’s to say “See! The womenz, they oppress us!”
    Is this a discussion of how we hate Em, or of how DV is portrayed and lived in our society? Both are fine, but one is more useful than the other.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Permalink
  24. Sady wrote:

    @AMC: I think a few people have expressed that they feel uncomfortable with your defending of Eminem, in this conversation. Honestly, I do too. I see where you’re coming from, but it’s time to drop it.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Permalink
  25. AMC wrote:

    @Sady Where am I defending him? I’m just adding background because people were confused as to why there was mutual violence and sex in the video: it’s because that was in his life. It doesn’t justify anything, and I have no axe to grind here. I’m simply giving people more food for thought when they discuss the video/ song/implications. How are adding facts defending? I know something about the situation, and added it in so people can discuss, I’m not defending anything, as I have REPEATEDLY stated.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Permalink
  26. AMC wrote:

    Just to add, since it doesn’t seem to get through-I condone neither his misogynist lyrics, nor his admitted abuse of his ex wife. I just find that I am better able to reach people by not completely vilifying Eminem, and instead talking fully about his frame of mind. Believe it or not, there is a wider range of Em fans than you might think-one of my best friends who is a fan works with abused women and children, and actually finds the song moving and helpful after a long day of helping victims deal with trauma.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Permalink