The Myth of the Misogynist Genius

I think my biggest enemy…. is Kanye’s ego.

Let me explain.

The Kanye rants and explosions are everywhere and I can’t get away from them. Everyone wants to talk about him. There are news stories galore about what he said about Taylor Swift There are rehashes of vendettas and ill manners. He is targeting women and children. His clothing line is one big nude-colored holy mess, his music is a poorly imitated version of D’Angelo’s excellent “Black Messiah.”

Kanye’s decline is affecting my mental wellbeing. It affects my productivity and health when I witness slut shaming, victim blaming, and misogyny. It’s draining. It’s a distraction.

I have blocked him on Twitter, but the people I follow on Twitter keep updating on the latest Kanye Tweets, so I can’t escape. It was like the Kim Kardashian Paper Magazine photo with the champagne glass; everyone saw it, and not necessarily by choice. You couldn’t not see it; it was on the side of every website imaginable. I thought she looked beautiful and happy but it wasn’t something I would typically choose to look at. And I could say the same thing of other gossipy items in the news, like Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani’s romance. I know that they are together even though I didn’t really choose to know.

On SNL, Michael Che stated that Kanye can say that serial rapist Bill Cosby is innocent because his album is so good.

Mainstream media calls Kanye a genius while also mentioning that he is a misogynist. Pitchfork cites at least four examples of horrendously sexist lyrics and mentions the “Bill Cosby is innocent” tweet but then describes his music as “deeply Christian” and notes that he is a “creative visionary.” Rolling Stone states: “West is a genius who worries the world only likes him for being a clown” and likens him to St. Paul, then details his “misogynistic jokes.” (Both Rolling Stone and Pitchfork downplay his sexist lyrics as “jokes.” I don’t think Kanye has a good sense of humor, but okay.) They both admit that the album sounds unfinished but give it a near-perfect rating.

My argument is that a misogynist CANNOT be a genius. You are NOT a genius if you have a deep contempt for half of the population. You are, really, quite ignorant. And, what troubles me even more is that some critics seem to find Kanye a genius BECAUSE OF his misogyny. There is the tired narrative about the wild male genius ruining women as part of his plight. Pitchfork’s review of Kanye’s album starts out by intellectualizing misogyny, describing Picasso and Kanye as male artists that mistreat women before finding a “final muse” where the tortured genius “remains faithful.” Oh boy, how lucky that final muse must be. Not! This narrative is damaging and untrue. It suggests that a woman can change an abusive man into a good, faithful man if only she is worthy enough. But it also suggests that a brilliant man must be terrible to women in order to be a genius. Eh?

After hearing about how brilliant Bukowski was, I finally read one of his books but quickly became confused. All I found were immature rants about wanting to have sex with an 18 year old once he turned 80. He had a very severe virgin/whore complex: “Basically I craved prostitutes, base women, because they were deadly and hard and made no personal demands.” That is one of the stupidest things I have ever read, but I’m told that he is a genius.

Beyonce is making amazing art but no one calls her a genius. A goddess, a queen, yes. But an intellectual genius? No. Even though her business acumen, music videos, and dance moves are all unparalleled. Maybe if she mistreated a few women along the way, she would earn the respect of male critics?

Some find Kanye a genius IN SPITE of his misogyny. Others find him a genius BECAUSE of his misogyny. I find him NOT TO BE A GENIUS BECAUSE of his misogyny.

A true genius stands for equality and at the very least can understand the definition of rape.