Earlier this year, Portland-based rock band Black Pussy caused an Internet furor when those offended by their name called for a boycott of their tour and the venues hosting them. Several articles were written in reaction to the name, some criticizing the band for their racist and sexist antics and others questioning why a name that reduces women to body parts could possibly be upsetting.
Despite spotty protests and demands for the band to change its name, they refused.
Lacking any musical talent, the band has soaked up all the media attention undoubtedly knowing this would be the extent of the press coverage they would enjoy. Billboard would never host their name, their hands would never hold a Grammy, the music would never occupy millions of earbuds on any given day — especially with that name.
Indeed, a quick Google search turned up three written music reviews, two of which were negative. Their entire media portfolio rests on the notoriety stemming from the band’s name. That gave me serious pause whether I, too, would be contributing to undeserved press.
But something is not right.
While I acknowledge that perhaps this could be the dubious motivation in creating such a name — provoking a media storm in order to draw attention to their music — there is still something grossly unaccounted for in their flagrant racism.
Simply put, if they’re musicians, why isn’t music their focus?
Their Facebook page boasts openly of the unflattering press; heavy on its coverage of negative reactions to the band’s refusal to change, even snapping cell-phone pics of protesters instead of maintaining attention on musical or artistic endeavors. Worst of all, the page openly mocks human-rights hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter and #sandrabland while proclaiming, “Black Pussy DOES NOT condone or endorse any sexism, racism, ageism, violence, or any other douchebaggery…”
I’m not buying it.
Despite this proclamation of the stupidest paradox ever conceived, there are repeated displays by fans of dead black women portrayed as victims in the media. One fan, Matricks Glitch, who continually attaches banner photos of dead black women, garnered the comment, “Another picture, another fan.”
Black Pussy are seemingly wearing the taciturn articles as badges of honor — the frontrunners in the race against the politically sensitive, striking a nerve in those groups who tire easily against the constant chastising and correcting what were once seen as acceptable norms of behavior.
In other words, this band is riding the tide of anti-intellectualism. I wouldn’t be surprised to find them waving a Confederate flag while standing on the last piece of ice in the Arctic, refusing to acknowledge climate change while openly defending their use of the word “faggot” all while proclaiming they’re just innocent stoner boys. Wink, wink.
The pervasive attitude seems to be, Look, we offend people, aren’t we clever? It’s just a name; get over it. This is our freedom of speech.
True. Anyone can say "black pussy" if he or she wants to.
The word pussy derives from Latin. We see its origins in the word "pusillanimous," meaning one who lacks courage or is cowardly. Middle English and Danish uses of pussy revolved around the words hare or cat or pocket. Modern English uses it as vulgar slang, derogatory in nature, referring to women’s genitalia, effeminate men, homosexuals or underage boys.
Completely innocent, right?
The problem lies in the band's capricious refusal to acknowledge its use of hate speech. Inciting anger, then disregarding it, is completely irresponsible and incorrigible.
The band's open disregard of the ownership of ideas that speak to a systemic bigotry and exploitation of not just women — who have already been subjugated to discrimination — but of African-American women — who have been subjects of nearly infinite permutations of racism, classism and sexism — is unacceptable.
If you’re going to say it, then fucking claim it.
Furthermore, the history of the title, "Black Pussy" — the Rolling Stones’ original title of “Brown Sugar” — reminds listeners of the institutionalized and accepted practice of white slave owners raping African-American female slaves. That injustice was never fully corrected, and yet this band proclaims they don’t condone sexism or racism.
The denial of self-awareness, the obstinate ignorance of such hypocrisy is a statement by the band in and of itself. What they are essentially saying is, I don’t give a shit if you’re offended or not, honey.
Had they used the words to draw awareness, spark a conversation of intellectual import or call attention to a societal wrong, would I be writing this scathing review? No. Nor do they claim to do any of those things. There is no higher purpose in the title, no greater design for art, no self-reflection or statement on society in the title whatsoever.
Black Pussy draws its name from the 1970s pornographic era. An obvious objectification by the white boys of the group — white boys who relish the privilege of benefits of a pre-established patriarchy. The same patriarchy whose dominant ideology promotes women to be sexually subservient to men, denies women equal pay, denies the protection of discrimination based on sex and ownership of their reproductive health and bodies.
But, hey…it’s just a name, baby. Don’t get all bent out of shape.
So, what of them now? Black Pussy came through Houston without so much as a whisper from the press. No protesters, no raging crowd of feminazis to provoke the band.
Last weekend Black Pussy played to an average-size crowd at Scout Bar in Clear Lake. Listeners milled about near the stage, with far less than a scattering of females in the audience. No one of African-American descent was to be seen. An opener for a mock-tribute band, Black Pussy played a short set to a muted response.
Yet I couldn’t help feeling at first uncomfortable at their name, but later rage and guilt that my attendance could possibly be seen as complicity. Absolutely no, not ever.
Who the fuck are these jackasses and why are they playing in my town?
I do not claim to speak for all women, nor would I ever attempt to speak on behalf of black women. But I will call bullshit when I see it, and the name Black Pussy, the members of the band and the hype they’ve created are easily one of the worst conceptions in music.
Willfully ignorant and refusing to acknowledge their privilege, bands like Black Pussy will never achieve success because their notoriety is far more important than their art. Ignorant and unapologetic, they’re not unlike Mushroom Head and their painfully uneducated allegiance to the Confederate flag.
Despite societal norms forcing such antiquated messages to expire, those who hang onto them — like Black Pussy — believe in their own moral superiority or assertion of rightful speech. Yet they will actually fade into oblivion. It’s a gimmick, and a shitty one at that.
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These are not artists. These are not musicians. These are white men who have an agenda of perpetuating the system of oppression that already exists to suppress women and minorities. And if they really are the innocent, ignorant stoner boys they claim to be, they’ll change their fucking name and focus on improving their shitty music instead of calling dead black women their “fans."
I call total bullshit on this band. Total. Fucking. Bullshit. But, watch this — they won’t change their name and they’ll continue to gain notoriety, mock the scandalous attention and the negative press all while claiming, It’s just a name, people. Because that’s what racist, sexist bigots want you to believe.
It’s just a name.
Fuck you, Black Pussy.