Last Friday I was not surprised when two students looked up from their revision notes and eagerly asked me about my music taste.
Every question was a well-constructed stab at gleaning precious seconds away from the assigned activity. I may be in my first year of teaching, but I’m already well versed in the art of distraction.
It is not the first time however, when I’ve questioned whether I should lie in my response.
Can a teacher admit, that on the 25-minute drive to work that morning, she had listened to Tyler The Creator’s Yonkers four times? Can the same teacher that is constantly concerned about whether every student in the room has a voice, regardless of gender, admit that she knows every word of Yeezy’s I’m in it?
I’ve learnt to reply as honestly as I can: “I like rap, but I don’t like the lyrics about women.” Usually this response saves me from feeling like I am betraying my own beliefs, and gender.
In the wake of Chris Brown’s recent visa denial, however, I’ve started to wonder if I’m doing the right thing.
I start to avoid answers to my own questions.
Do we need to change perceptions regarding domestic violence? Yes.
Should Chris Brown be allowed into Australia? No.
Should I continue to listen to Tyga then, when he raps: Shout out my n*gga Breezy and beat it like Rihanna? Probably not.
Can I really enjoy the discussion of ingrained racism in Yeezy’s New Slaves when he also states: I’d rather be a dick than a swallower? Maybe.
It’s the ‘maybes’ that I try to avoid. Can I justify some good, when there’s a plethora of bad. Would I feel the same way if they were rapping about gender inequality while also broadcasting disgustingly racist statements?
Against my usual stance on the freedom of speech, I’ve started to think that maybe this is a very affirmative action that Australia can take on sexism. Perhaps it is time that we banned anyone who condones the mistreatment of women. It may be fundamentally against my beliefs on the creation of art, but it could also be the first step in breaking this cycle of slut shaming and misogyny.
I want my students to walk around the school with their headphones preaching sentiments’ equality. I want them to feel empowered. And, I don’t want them to ever feel compromised by their preferred genre of music.