VIDEO: “Seattle Sweeties” – Draze (dir. by Atuanya Priester)

Seattle MC Draze and local bakeshop Cupcake Royale continue the roll-out of their “Seattle Sweeties” fundraising campaign, an effort to earn money for Mary’s Place, a shelter for homeless women, children and families. The campaign is for a worthy cause and the partners should be lauded for initiating it. The opinions that follow should be taken separately from how 206UP feels about the campaign but are still relevant because of how intrinsically tied the issues are.

Draze dropped the “Seattle Sweeties” single three weeks ago and 206UP had some things to say about the track’s good intentions but disappointing sexist subtext. The Stranger’s Angela Garbes echoed similar sentiments. Five days ago Draze followed up the single with a music video which you can view below. Similar to the audio, the visual is — again — disappointingly reductive for all the reasons 206UP and the Stranger have already given.

As far as making a meaningful, nuanced artistic statement about the endemic that is institutionalized sexism Draze and Cupcake Royale, with their song and video, have failed miserably. To be fair, however, that’s probably not their area of expertise nor their original intention.

In the Garbes piece, Cupcake Royale’s Chief Operating Officer Nicki Kerbs is notably glib in her response to the charges of the “Seattle Sweeties” campaign being problematic. It seems that, to her, a cupcake is just a cupcake.

Of course you don’t have to be Don Draper to know that in the advertising/marketing game it’s never that simple. The same factors that play inside your brain, convincing you you must have that cupcake now, wage war on the same subconscious battlefield that allows sexist viewpoints to institutionalize themselves and become societal norms. The term “sweeties” — as innocuous as it sounds — carries negative connotations for many women. If Draze and Cupcake Royale intended to usurp those connotations, then more power to them; it’s just unfortunate they did it in the wrong way.

(Click here to read more about Mary’s Place and go here to make a financial contribution.)

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AUDIO: “Seattle Sweeties” – Draze (prod. by Vitamin D)

Draze - Seattle Sweeties

Ah yes, the so-called hip-hop “female empowerment anthem:” Generally well-intentioned, but hardly ever well-executed. Seattle rap OG Draze falls into the same institutionalized pit of chauvinism that our favorite of-the-moment rappers like Drake happily occupy. “Seattle Sweeties” gets it wrong from the very start (see: song title), but has its heart in the right place (it’s a vehicle for raising funds for survivors of domestic violence).

Here’s the thing, fellas (and mind you this word to the wise is coming straight from the horse’s mouth: a heterosexual male who trades in misogyny by virtue of my very existence on planet earth): Women don’t need men to affirm their beauty and intelligence.

The best part of the current wave of feminism — at least as it’s manifesting itself in popular culture — is that it reinforces the notion that there is truly no wrong way to be feminine (see: Adele, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Mindy Kaling, et al). Just as there’s no wrong way to be Black, Asian, Latino, gay, straight, or transgender.

The marginalized — and I’m counting myself and Draze among those — need allies in the fight against our oppressors.

Men: We need to stop projecting our values of worth (particularly as it pertains to physical beauty) onto the people we’ve traditionally held power over — that shit is tired and reductive. We need to start taking up arms alongside them. Teach your sons and daughters how to be feminists, not the bankrupt game of respectability politics.

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