Azealia Banks Wants You to Know She's Not Homophobic, but She'll Still Call You a "Faggot"

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Is this a feminist truth or absolute crazy?

Azealia Banks spoke her mind, to say the least, in an interview with Sirius XM's Xorje Olivares on Monday. She addressed her recent comments against gay media blogger Perez Hilton and Vice's Mitchell Sunderland, which have been widely criticized as being homophobic. 

But Banks is giving no one an apology. 

The black bisexual rapper described Hilton as being a "faggot," and then justified her use of the word by claiming her use was rooted in feminist thought. Reiterating to Olivares that she is not homophobic, Banks explained that her definition of this commonplace homophobic slur applies to anyone, gay or straight, who is a male misogynist.

"To be homophobic would imply that I'm, like, 'I can't sit next to a gay man cuz Imma catch the gay,'" she told Olivares. "But I already caught the gay," she remarked, alluding to her own sexuality. "I feel like when I use the word 'faggot,' it comes from, like, a feminist point of view, not a homophobic point of view. It's really just kinda like you feel attacked as a woman."

The takeaway: Banks is spot-on in her comments about male misogyny, but "faggot" is just not synonymous with "misogynist." However, Banks professionally barters in language, and she can — and must — do better. 

Source: Soundcloud

The question: Does a personal definition of hate speech excuse its use? This is the question at the basis of Banks' explanation of why she believes it's appropriate to use the word "faggot." She contends that "the word faggot came to [her] from [her] mother." For Banks, the word is not a slur pertinent to one's sexual orientation, but descriptive of one's level of misogyny. "It was never a thing of, like, a guy being gay, you know what I mean, it was always just a man who hates women. ... You could be gay or straight. You could be a straight faggot," she told Olivares. "I feel like faggots are, like, men who want to bring women down. ... Faggots are men who don't want you to be independent."

The answer: No. Banks makes a solid point that white gay men dominate media and therefore perpetuate sexist representations of women. "With white gay media, especially with female artists ... in order for you to seem successful or seem feminine or whatever, you have to desire their approval, you know, like, white gay males' approval," she said. She also is on point about America's lopsided sense of discrimination when it comes to language. "If you're gonna stand up for the rights, you gotta stand up for all the rights," she said. "You gotta get mad when I say 'nigger.' You gotta get mad when I say 'bitch.' You gotta get mad when I say 'cunt.' America cannot pick and choose when it wants to be offended."

Banks is right to highlight misogyny, and the level of racism embedded in the media's misogyny. But her language is still not justified, particularly when it is vocalized in a public domain. Language exists as a tool for communication; it was not invented to satiate the ego. The issue, here, is not about being politically correct, even — it's about understanding the meaning of language, outside of what your mother told you. And Banks, who has invoked history as a point of critique for artists like Iggy Azalea, should know that language has history, which bears its weight of importance.