Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn, a.k.a Future, a.k.a. your favorite rapper whose beats you love but whose rapping you can’t understand, cast his line in the sewers of toxic masculinity last week during an interview on Beats 1 Radio.
When he was asked (for some reason) about his thoughts on his baby moms Ciara’s marriage to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Future’s hating ass went directly into the paint with the most groan-inducing answer he could’ve concocted: “He do exactly what she tell him to do. He not being a man in that position…If that was me, she couldn’t even bring his name up. She’d know that. She couldn’t even bring her exes’ names up.”
First, there are only two appropriate answers to give when publicly queried about your ex’s current relationship: “No comment” or “I wish them the very best.” Anything else comes off as meddlesome at best and, at worse, like you wish you were still in the position of the New Boo.
Future’s answer comes off as the latter as well as incredibly regressive by 2019 standards. At a time in which we’re scrutinizing bad male behavior at an unprecedented clip thanks to #MeToo and #TimesUp – in addition to the fact that the Surviving R. Kelly documentary is easily the most significant Black cultural event of the nascent new year – dude’s statements sound better suited for a male character on Mad Men.
The suggestion that a man should have any dominion over the free speech of his partner is rooted in religious evangelism and garden-variety misogyny, and it sounds particularly bad coming from a chart-topping artist at a time when mitigating the effects of the patriarchy is the cool thing to do. Future sounds like he’d be just fine having Ciara (or any other woman he’s with) chained up to a radiator like Samuel L. Jackson did the white chick in Black Snake Moan. Making matters worse, their son Future will come of age before long and hear exactly what daddy thinks about mommy and her agency.
To their credit, it would appear that Russell and Ciara are rising above it with the least petty Instagram responses I’ve ever seen, letting Future and the world know that everything is just kosher in their orbit. (Celebrities, from now on, unless your name is Cardi B, this is how you clap back at folks on social media).
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Though Future’s comments represent an absurdly anachronistic level of thinking about marriage and partnership, there are still countless men and women who think just like him. Folks are being more careful than he was in interviews and on social media in order to avoid public draggings. But behind closed doors and the comfort of internet anonymity, we’re still collectively running 100 miles an hour in the wrong damn direction when it comes to ideas about gender roles.
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Take Gillette’s recent buzzy ad campaign, which seems to be the most sincere and non-controversial approach to respecting women I’ve ever seen from a household brand. The mouth-breathing contingent vowed to break their own razors and grow ZZ Top beards in protest; it comes off as little more than their suggestion that all these mouthy dames need to be put in their place: the kitchen. And to be quiet about it. As is the case with avowed racists, homophobes and people who bake pies that don’t melt in the microwave, some people have no interest in doing better.
Like Gillette, I recognize the value of letting the masses know when they need to do better, because paying attention has caused me to do better. In my 20s, I probably wouldn’t have blinked at Soulja Boy consistently referring to women as “b—es” throughout his epic media run last week. In my late 30s, I bristle. Unfortunately, it took a whole-ass documentary for R. Kelly to finally get his just desserts after what we’ve all known for decades, but all we can do is keep educating the masses and hopefully there will be exceedingly fewer Nayvadiuseseses in the Future (*rimshot*).
Ciara and Wilson are no strangers to having their relationship scrutinized by the public, especially considering Wilson’s conservative religious bona fides. As a divorced man, I wholeheartedly support two people who make their marriage work on their terms, as long as it comes from a healthy place. If Wilson really is happy ceding control to his wife in a way that the guy known for the “Mask Off” track that everyone else but him bodied takes an issue with, then I’m in support. Bless both of them and their union, and f— Future’s codeine-fueled opinion.
Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light-skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at his own site, wafflecolored.com.