As I have commented on before , I enjoy listening to feuds that show themselves in songs. I do not think I would enjoy the conflict of feeling attacked in a song or the knowledge that I had hurt someone in public by writing a song about them on the radio that was harsh or negative, but there is something intriguing in seeing what people get upset about and how they choose to settle their arguments in the public sphere through their art. One of the more memorable exchanges featured a largely known rapper that made fun of another rapper for being popular with women, to which the more famous and lady-loving rapper replied by saying that “ninety-nine percent of your fans don’t exist,” which was a devastating and true retort. The more popular rapper saw the insult as being a sign of envy by someone who was not as popular and wanted to take a cheap shot at someone lacking manliness because they are popular with women, as if that was a bad thing. I do not consider myself particularly popular with women, but I do not think that a man who for reasons of personality or attractiveness is appealing to women as a friend or as a (potential) lover is less manly at all for being popular in that way. Sour grapes make for poor wine, after all.
In the rap world, we see in a particularly clear way the contradictions about manhood and womanhood that exist in the larger society but are less obvious. In rap, the contradictions are visible for all to see. On the one hand, we find male rappers bragging (and perhaps exaggerating) about their sexual prowess and attractiveness to women on the one hand while deriding those peers who are popular with women as soft or somehow lacking something of a man. This contradiction goes largely unrecognized. Likewise, we have women dressed like prostitutes singing girl power anthems decrying men (presumably, in many cases, male rappers or their imitators) for their lack of respect and loyalty, and occasionally brag (and exaggerate) about their own sexual prowess as well. This contradiction goes largely unrecognized as well. How is one to resolve these contradictions? For one, it appears that both the men and women involved desire love and respect, but appear to act in ways that are poorly suited to gaining that love and respect, because it often involves tearing someone else down on identity grounds, because they are a man or woman, or because they are popular with men or women, or friends with a lot of men or women. Often this contradiction is so intense that it causes artists (and not only rap artists) to adopt a wildly contradictory approach, appealing to different prejudices and target audiences with different songs that in many ways contradict the messages of other songs, leaving everyone (including perhaps the artists themselves) unaware of where they truly stand.
I cannot speak with a great deal of expertise on the difficulties that women face, except that I am a sympathetic audience to people in general who seek respect and love and honor by being respectful and respectable and loving and honorable. As a man, I can speak with more respect on the issues of manhood in this regard, and so I will do so. What is needed is a recognition that it takes a great deal of strength to restrain oneself from the various pressures to behave foolishly and wickedly that exist. It takes strength of several kinds. For one, it takes the strength to restrain the drive we all have towards our own particular areas of longing and weakness. Not only that, it means behaving in an honorable fashion despite the fact that people will often judge one to be dishonorable in one’s intentions simply by being friendly or being popular in a certain demographic. It takes as great deal of moral courage to do what is right when one is thought to be doing what is wrong, to have honor and virtue but to suffer a bad reputation. Likewise, it takes a great deal of strength to be gentle and understanding to those who are hurtful through malice or carelessness, and yet to not lack any ability to summon the manliness to stand up against what is wrong or to protect people so far as possible from abuse and ridicule. This is not the kind of strength that is usually sought by people, nor is it the sort of strength that we tend to feel proud about, but it is the sort of strength that makes for a better life and a better world, at least insofar as we have any influence through our example.
Yet it is precisely this sort of strength that both men and women need to possess if we are to better our world and our relationships. To have successful friendships or marriages, we need to treat others well. Yet in treating others well, we often have to deal with the fact that other people are simply not always very nice about how we choose to show love and respect for others. In the main, two sort of pressures exist, the pressures to show an interest in that which is beyond our comfort zone on the one hand, and the pressure to restrict our interests so as to pass the demanding filters and requirements to fit in one’s own identity groups on the other . To resist the urge to do anything inappropriate while developing a wider set of interests requires strength, and it requires even more strength to be honest about one’s interests and one’s perspective and one’s motives even in the face of persistent and ugly misinterpretation. To do so graciously and honorably requires even more strength and decency of character. What then are we to do? What we seek, if we wish for a more just world, requires us to model the qualities that we wish to see from others, and to surround ourselves with those who will encourage us to be people of character and wisdom in our conversation and conduct. Then, as our example is seen and recognized, we may have the opportunity to encourage others who struggle likewise in their own efforts to be honorable people in a dishonorable world, building up a sense of community among like-minded people so that no one feels as if they have to make this effort on their own. The sight of our own success, done the right way, will itself encourage others to imitate, and so provide at least a space for decency to exist and influence others for the better.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: