“How can you, as a woman, listen to and support someone as hateful as Eminem?”
I cannot tell you how many times I have found myself being asked this question. Admittedly, there have even been a few instances in which I was the one asking myself. The truth is, I don’t listen to his music through the ears of a woman. I hear it with the heart of an artist and the mind of a writer. I know what it feels like to have nothing but a pen and the skin of your own palm to write on. I know what it’s like to have a levee break inside of you. You have to let some of the overflowing madness out, or you will drown in it. Sometimes, the world is too much, and something just starts burning inside of you. You try to keep the fire under control, but the world just keeps on fanning the flames. It’s like Andrea Gibson said, “My mouth is a fire escape. The words that are coming out cannot care that they are naked. There is something burning in here!”
Sometimes, the words that make it out alive are still hot enough to burn anyone who gets too close.
I admit that there are some songs of his that I won’t listen to, but I don’t hold them against him. I wish some people would realize that he was just a kid who had a microphone shoved in front of his face. In the beginning, that was all he ever wanted. He knew that he had something to say, and for the first time, people were actually listening.
So he took that microphone and ran with it. He didn’t realize the diversity of his audience or the potential consequences of his words, good or bad. He didn’t realize that people would listen so closely and form protests and demonstrations against him, or worship him to the point where he couldn’t even go out in public. He grew up in a world where people were either defined as black or white, and because of that (as well as various other details in his life), he was always seeing red. Among all other things, the microphone became his greatest addiction, because standing in front of it helped to ease the pain.
I am not justifying some of the things that he has said, but I refuse to define him by them. His thoughts are complicatedly folded in to intimidating-looking envelopes. They may not be sealed with kisses, but they are definitely held together by something stronger than what many people possess: the sheer will power and determination to keep going.
That white T shirt that he is so well-known for wearing does not symbolize a white flag; he will not surrender. It symbolizes a blank sheet of paper that he is not afraid to fill with tiny handwritten words that most people would be too afraid to even think, let alone say. He is more than the “woman hater” that some of his lyrics paint him to be. He is also the dedicated father of three young girls. Yes, he has fucked up on occasion, but he has also fought and won several battles that he was waging against himself along the way and always kept the well-being of his daughters in the front of his mind while doing so. There are lyrics that he admittedly regrets writing, but there are also amazing lyrics that he has written that are now tattooed on to the bodies of hundreds of people across the world. There is just so much more to him than what the media portrays or what people choose to see.
Look past his cold stares in the photographs, and you will see the body bags under his eyes that have seen too much. Look past the “fuck you” of his middle finger, and you will see the scars on his knuckles from fighting for everything he has and the hours that he has spent guiding a pen over a notepad or a sketchbook, all in attempt to alleviate some of the pain. Growing up, he would lose himself in comic-book illustrations filled with heroes and villains, but he never thought that he would have to become one of the bad guys in order to save himself and the ones he loved. Just like we lose ourselves in his music, but we never thought we would become one of his targets, and have to look past it in order to take strength from his words. The truth is, he is more than his spiteful lyrics, but he is also less than the throne that “Stans” across the world try to place him on.
At the end of the day he is human, but a truly beautiful one at that.