Beastie Boys are authentic feminists. Liscenced to Ill is a pretty misogynistic record. On Girls, Ad-Rock raps about wanting a girl to do his dishes and laundry, Brass Monkey is making what sounds like a date rape beverage, and the Fight for Your Right video has, like, millions of articles written about how sexist it is.
Okay but they’ve tried to atone for these sins. They don’t play those songs anymore. They sent a letter to Time Out New York apologizing for hating on women and gays through their music. Ad-Rock spoke out after Woodstock 99, saying bands needed to be more mindful of the security at their shows. This addresses something I think is really important–that it adds to the personal brand of musicians and show bros to be really gritty and not give a shit about how dirty and crowded a venue is. This is the same issue we have with The Buried Life and Into the Wild; it makes men the ‘default’ because they can thrive in this environment but women need to worry about their safety, and that becomes a burden on the venue and on bands.
But anyways, what I really respect about this is that doing an about face on something you believe is really difficult. We’ve been there, and I have to say I have a hell of a lot of respect for people who have to change the way that they think. They may not use the word ‘androcentric’ or know what a ‘cis male’ is but they seem to have taken an earnest and personal journey to thinking that respecting women is important. I like this a lot more than douchey self-identifying feminists that know the right words because it’s cool in their social circle. For Beastie Boys, feminism is not the path of least resistance. They exist in a world where no one gives a shit if they are self-aware or culturally conscious. It could add to their brand, sure, or they could be badass misogynists like Eminem; there’s an audience for either rap persona.
The spontaneous shift in thinking denotes an earnest ‘coming to Jesus’ moment where they realized the error of their ways in a way people who have always been feminists will never know. It’s like this thing TS Eliot says about how you are supposed to travel so that when you get home you know what that place is like for the first time. What’s the point of being alive if all your thoughts and experiences only affirm what you already believe?