Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Rick Ross and the Unlearned Lesson of Steubenville



This weekend, I was tooling around on the internet and a headline grabbed my eye. “Rick Ross speaks on rape lyrics controversy.” Now, I have to be honest, I have no idea who Rick Ross is. I have now read this story, I even searched out the song in question, and I still really don’t know who Rick Ross is, except he’s finding himself under fire for some lyrics in a song, and as always happens when any celebrity gets caught saying or doing something wrong, he’s in damage control mode.

At issue are lyrics Ross penned as part of a song he performed with a couple of other artists, U.O.E.N.O.(You Ain’t Even Know It):
“Put molly all in her champagne/ She ain’t even know it/ I took her home and I enjoyed that/ She ain’t even know it.”
‘Molly’, according to all, is slang for the drug Ecstasy, and the implication in the lyric is of someone slipping some to a girl, taking her home, and having at her. And she ain’t even know it.
With the disturbing images from the Steubenville trial still fresh, the timing of this song is bad, to say the least.
In an interview (which can be seen in the first article, about 7 minutes long), Ross defending his lyrics:

“There are certain things you can’t Tweet and certain things you want people to hear and I want to make sure this is clear, that woman is the most precious gift known to man. You understand.

“There was a misunderstanding with a lyric or a misinterpretation. The term rape wasn’t used. I would never use the term rape in my records. Hip-Hop don’t condone that, the streets don’t condone that. Nobody condones that. I just want to reach out to all the queens on my timeline, the beautiful ladies that were reaching out to me… we don’t condone rape and I’m not with that.”

I don’t know Rick Ross. Rick Ross may be a prince of a guy. I’m sure Rick Ross really doesn‘t condone rape, but Rick Ross just doesn’t get it, does he? Even if his lyrics were being taken out of context and misunderstood, he reveals a complete lack of understanding of rape. “The term rape wasn’t used.” So, because he doesn’t use the term ‘rape,’ in his mind, the song isn’t about ‘rape.’ And, presumably, because he* wasn’t using force—fists, or choke holds, or a knife to the throat, or “I’ll kill your family if you don’t”—it wasn’t rape. The hopefully-fictional girl depicted in the song’s lyrics was high from Ecstasy, thus willing, thus consent was giving, so it’s not rape. (*BIG FAT NOTE: I’m not saying Rick Ross really did this. ‘He’ in the song can refer to some narrator/personality who is not necessarily Ross)

Sound familiar?

One of the things that came out of the recent Steubenville trial, revealed in testimony, text messages, disturbing images culled from cellphones, and in the often vile comments people made in response to online articles about it, is that so many people seem to believe it’s not rape if you don’t use force. There’s a strong feeling in our culture that believes “Inebriation equals invitation.” This attitude that must change, and it’s the boys and men who must get this message. It’s all well and good to teach our daughters to always be aware of their surroundings, to teach them to carry whistles, or the art of self-defence, to never go anywhere alone (and let me tell you, when we brought the Magpie to college, it was disconcerting to see signs in the dorm room warning girls not to to go out alone), but how do you teach them about this? Don’t leave your drink unattended, never accept a drink from a stranger unless it’s in a sealed container, travel in packs, what else?

I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again. Yes, we need to teach our daughters all this, but what are we teaching our sons? I surely hope Rick Ross reconsiders his stance and revises his thinking. We need to change our thinking, and change what we show the young boys out there. Rape does not require fists, and inebriation does not equal invitation. It’s past time we learned this. It’s past time we made this part of our culture.

11 Responses

  1. Well said, Jeff. I think a lot of people don't realize that alcohol alone is the most commonly used date rape drug. I was surprised to learn that in some research I'm doing for the WIP I'm editing. Diminishing a woman's (or a man's) ability to make decisions doesn't mean the person's saying "yes".

  2. That's pretty disgusting. In my experience, it's the guys we know who do the deed. How sad is that? Makes it hard to trust. Makes it hard to understand what could drive a man to do it. You know where I stand on that one. Still, it's a dirty, taboo subject and in the end, I really think it's a father's job to teach his son the proper way to treat women. Unfortunately, in the hip hop culture, so many of those young men have no fathers in their lives.

  3. I agree with you completely, JeffO. Some police officers who came and did a talk at my highschool towards the end of last year made it clear to us that, at least in my state in Australia, it counts as rape if the girl is drunk because she is not in the right state of mind to be making decisions, or something like that, which I agree with. It's scary to think that it's dangerous to let a seemingly nice stranger walk up to you at the pub and offer to buy you a drink because he might actually be drugging you. But it's just as much a matter of teaching girls how to be safe as teaching boys how to be respectful and considerate of whatever state of intoxication we might be in. Ra ra ra, blah blah blah, I think you get what I'm on about 🙂

  4. I like this post, Jeff. As the father of an eleven year old boy, I am keenly aware of the perspective I need him to grow up with in terms of how he sees the women in his life. His mom is a strong, fair and wonderful woman, and I know he respects and admires her. BUT – I also know that it's my actions toward her – how I treat her, how I demonstrate respect, love and equality toward her in front of my son – that will really impact his future treatment of women as a group. Our boys, largely, will grow up to become us. And our women will bear the consequences of the choices that we – the fathers of boys, make now. Great post, Jeff.

  5. Thanks, Dan, and good for you for being aware and taking that responsibility seriously. Setting the good example goes a long, long way, too. I don't think my father ever pulled me aside for a talk that went like, "Now, son, if you're ever at a party and find a girl who's really drunk, don't take advantage of her." He didn't have to, because he was a good example.

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