Music » Music Etc.

Is It OK for a Group of Five White Men to Name Their Band Black Pussy?

Unloading the many connotations of Black Pussy

by

There are a myriad of lenses to view this artistic predicament through. One, and my main contention with the name, is that being five white dudes from Portland, Oregon, everything they do artistically is suspect. Not necessarily grounds for censorship — I don't believe in censorship; free the nipple, free the weenie, it matters not to me — however, I hate (most) white people. Particularly, white males that flock to metropolises of Cool, like Portland and Austin, and play in bands. People like myself, really. Also, as a white male, I have complete access into our conversations and the white zeitgeist; all the terrible things we say to each other about the Others under the security of our mutual pigmentation. For those who do not have such a "privilege," just consider Donald Trump the walking, talking id of the white American psyche, hence his astounding popularity.

I do, also, love rock 'n' roll, and I really dig the idea of people getting super pissed off by a band name. However, are we really comfortable fighting for the right to piss off black women?

Coming from the world of rock 'n' roll and the punk philosophy of the-more-offensive-the-better, a band name like Black Pussy is still unique. Particularly in the sense that it is one of the first band names to upset folks that rock 'n' roll has historically tried to align themselves with: the marginalized and oppressed. But then again, what's more rebellious than offending the sensibilities of those we are akin to; people that share our same mentality? It's meta-offensive. Pissing off pissed off folks who have every right to be pissed off.

Perhaps the group has given their name — derived from the original title of the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" — great consideration and feel that this is one envelope that the over-inflated world of rock 'n' roll needs to push: to become post-post-post-racial. An attempt to unleash a deeper freedom devoid of our sexual and racial history in an effort to celebrate black vaginas, black sissies or black kitty cats.

The band's Facebook bio states "Black Pussy DOES NOT condone or endorse any sexism, racism, ageism [or] violence ... "

But, does a foreword to your band's racially, sexually-charged name free you up to be racially and sexually insensitive in the name of irreverence and good ol' rock 'n' roll?

What is in a name? Would a band by any other name rock just as hard? Would Black Sabbath sound as fierce, stoned, paranoid and disgusted if they were called the Cuddly Puppies? Would the Black Lips, a band of white men whose name has received little to no attention for its racial undertones, be considered the enfant terribles that so many consider them to be if they were called the Brown Pants?

When we unload the band name multiple connotations take shape. Black Pussy. It could mean a black cat, or bad luck. Black Pussy. It could mean an African-American woman's vagina. Black Pussy. It could mean a black male who is considered wimpy or a "sissy," generally a derogatory term. Many feminists, however, take no offense to the term "pussy," as well as "effeminate" men. Preferring to take back its negative connotation, reclaiming the word to be one of empowerment.

We are also dealing with issues of slang. Would it be more acceptable if the band was called African-American Vagina? How about Black Sissy? Or Black Vagina?

The issue is that the name carries all of these linguistic possibilities with it and is the subject of the beholder.

What do you, the listener, want from your music? And what do we, as spectators, want other peoples' music to convey? Would it be too obtuse to say that we want the art we partake in to always mirror our politics?

This idea that an artistic act should be curtailed because of the sensibilities of others is also imbued with prejudice. Again, we do not know the story of these five men. We cannot assume they even identify as "men." Perhaps there is a transgender or queer member of the group. Would that change the connotation or the acceptance? What if they are aware of the racial and sexual connotations, loathe oppression and are operating strictly from a shock-rock position?

Bottom line, it may be, at the very least, juvenile and un-thought out to name your band Black Pussy. It may be the most rock 'n' roll band name since San Antonio's Nig Fags. It may be a perfect representation of white male privilege and the further objectification and marginalization of women of color. It is all of these things.


comment