Open Letter to Eminem
Dear Mr. Mathers,
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ilya Shambat. My family came from Russia to America when I was 12. I went on a full scholarship to a private school and finished University of Virginia at age 18. In my adult life, I have done everything from computer industry to poetry translation to tutoring to low-level work; and six years ago I moved to Australia to start a family.
Now I know that you have once won a rap contest by attacking an opponent who had gone to a private school. Where a person comes from, is not his choice; but it is his choice what he does with it. A person whose parents were successful is more likely to have better role models and a better understanding of what works. You may know more about how things can be done wrong; somebody whose parents were more successful than yours may know more about how things can be done better.
Not all of my life has been peaches and cream. There were problems in my upbringing - some as a result of wrongful beliefs and behavior of people close to me; others as a result of problems that take place when a Jewish person is raised in Russia or when someone from Russia is raised in America. In my adult life I've gone far outside of where people from my kind of upbrigning would normally go, including to some fairly rough situations. My goal through all these experiences has been to understand how people live in order that I can understand how the problems in their lives can be solved.
In the country from which I come, domestic violence is a big problem. It is a problem that can only be solved - there and elsewhere - by men choosing deliberately not to be violent to their wives and by sticking to that decision. You have been a destructive influence resulting in more domestic violence taking place in America and in other Western countries. Your influence has been huge, and it has been wrongful.
I've had a number of difficulties in my marriage, but I was never violent to my wife. You not only have been severely violent to your girlfriends but have been influencing other men to be terrible to their wives and their girlfriends.
I've written poetry books that celebrate the goodness of my female partners. You've written songs about how you want to kill your mother and how you want to stuff your girlfriend in a trunk of a car.
I've been putting most of my energy into understanding the problems that people have and solving these problems. You have been putting most of your energy into self-aggrandizement by pushing abuse of women.
What one does with where one comes from, matters a lot more than where one comes from. And both you and I have proven that.
Women are 50% of the world's population, and they will always be 50% of the world's population. A vast aspect of what their lives will be like will center around how men view them and how they treat them. And in encouraging the attitudes that you have encouraged, you have done everything you could to make the lives of 50% of the world's population horrible.
Coming from a bad background does not justify taking one's influence in this direction. There are any number of men I know who come from bad backgrounds, who do nothing of this sort. Some of these men are highly inspirational and observe a very high standard of conduct. And that includes also in how they treat their women.
You and I have one thing in common: We both love our daughters. But what our daughters will face when they grow up will be defined to a great extent by how men view and treat women. You have been influencing men to be ugly to women, and this will eventually hit your daughter. Which means that, however much love you express for Hayley in your songs, you are making the world worse for her when she becomes an adult.
And as a father who loves his daughter as well, I say with no equivocation that I will do everything in my power to undo the wrongful influence which you are pushing upon the young men growing up today.
This is the case with both men who come from better backgrounds and men who come from worse backgrounds. Having a bad mother is no excuse. Your girlfriend is not your mother; she is who she is. In treating your girlfriend as though she was your mother, you are failing to see her for herself. And that can only be a recipe for disaster. Women, like men, are individuals who differ from one another. And in mistaking one for another, you are practicing nothing except ignorance and stupidity.
I say this as someone who's fought political correctness as soon as I knew what political correctness was. I say this as someone who has complete disrespect for the likes of Andrea Dworkin and Catherine McKinnon. I say this as someone who has done much intellectual heavy lifting to fight wrongful directions in feminism. And, yes, I say this as someone who has seen how good and wonderful women can be when they are allowed to be that way.
One major problem that's faced by women of goodwill is running into people like you. They start out having goodwill toward men, but it gets poisoned by having relationships with violent bullies. Then when they run into someone who's willing to treat them well they become hateful and distrustful. And this hurts men as much as it hurts women, creating a chain reaction that leads everyone to become the very worst person that they can be, and in everyone's lives becoming hideous.
It is time that there be a better way to have relationships. It is time that there be a better example. It is time that there be a better way to live.
I do not advocate political correctness. I do not advocate misandrist feminism any more than I advocate violence against women. I advocate relationships of mutual love and respect. I advocate an attitude that can actually benefit both the women and the men. I advocate how things can be done right.
I do not think that you would be happy if Hayley winds up with an Eminem. Nor do I think that you would be happy if Hayley's boyfriend starts making songs about stuffing her in the back of his car, or if Hayley's son makes songs about how he wants to kill her. The influence that you are pushing is an influence that will find any woman, including your daughter. And that sabotages whatever claims of love for your daughter that you make.
You had a bad mother, and I had a good mother. Neither of us has chosen that situation; but both of us can choose where to take one's influence in the world. Your work has taught many men to be horrible to women who've done nothing bad to them. And it will take the work of many people to undo that influence.