Why Eminem Is A Terrible Fit For The Concert For Valor

By Ally Schweitzer

Eminem's misogynist track record should have disqualified him from the Concert For Valor.
Eminem's misogynist track record should have disqualified him from the Concert For Valor.

Eminem loves to rap about hurting women. That includes raping them, ripping off their breasts and, most recently, battering them like Janay Rice. To accusations of misogyny, the Michigan native has done little more than play the victim.

Of course, Eminem has not been arrested for harming a woman (just for gun-related offenses, including being involved with a paintball gun shooting), and I have no reason to believe the artist—who has stoked controversy since he made his major-label debut in 1999—carries out any of the grotesque acts he’s rhymed about over the years. But why in the world would someone with a history of woman-hating lyrics, many of them directed at his ex-wife, be asked to play a concert for people who are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence?

I’m talking about veterans and their families, the people honored during tonight’s Concert For Valor in D.C. Eminem is booked to play the big-league show—sponsored by HBO, Starbucks and Chase—alongside Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna (herself a victim of partner abuse), Carrie Underwood, Metallica and an array of other enormous pop acts. On the docket, I would guess, is a concert specializing in patriotism, a tradition to which Eminem has contributed in his own special way. (And I’m not just referring to those reports that his music has been used to torture detainees in Afghanistan.)

Meanwhile, combat veterans are linked to 21 percent of domestic violence acts in the U.S., according to a Yale University study. That statistic is related to post-traumatic stress disorder, which also contributes to a high rate of suicide among veterans. A 2006 study shows that “domestic violence rates among veterans with PTSD are higher than those of the general population.” While domestic abuse declined overall in the U.S., rates of intimate partner violence among post-9/11 veterans “began to explode,” according to When the War Came Home author Stacy Bannerman.

Did anyone at HBO, Starbucks or Chase consider that violence against women might be a sensitive subject among veterans and their partners, many of whom will be in the audience tonight? (I sent emails to the spokespeople representing the Concert For Valor, and I haven’t heard back yet.)

Most attendees at tonight’s concert probably won’t blink at the booking—Eminem is still one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, and in a 2010 New York Times Magazine interview, he claimed to have turned over a new leaf.

But Eminem’s 2013 album The Marshall Mathers LP 2 found him as woman-hatin’ as ever. And he just rhymed about pummeling singer Lana Del Rey “twice like Ray Rice” in a video released Monday. To an audience made up partly of veterans and their families, will Eminem’s presence feel like the honor it’s supposed to be or—quite symbolically—like a slap in the face?

  • Victoria Shackelford

    Did you ever stop to think he is smart enough to write some new material. Oh I also bet you have never listened to all of his songs. Well until you do it may be wise if you keep your opinion to yourself.

    • rightmostofthetime

      Didn’t read the article, I see. The author’s point was that his past lyrics are offensive to women, and that has nothing to do with whether or not he has new material for the concert. And his newly-released video talks about pummeling Ray Rice’s wife. That new enough for ya?

      • adamHolland

        Vets loved it. We like death metal too. Go control your kids and leave us alone.

  • Guest

    I am a Veteran and I still continue to serve my country going on 9 years now. This blog about Eminem seems to in fact be about your personal opinion rather than anything else. The music industry today is overall obscene and many artists rap about the same thing so what makes this particular artist any different? I actually find his music motivating to listen to especially when I am deployed overseas.

    • adamHolland

      Exactly. Its for us, from him. I’d expect nothing less than genuine Shady.

  • Janet Macri

    Eminem has good reason to bash women in his lyrics. Look at the women in his life, starting with his mother. He hasn’t had any luck in love but he is a fantastic father!!! 75% of songs lyrics are abusive in some way to women, we can’t put that blame on him. He is a fabulous artist, one of my favorites & I’m a survivor of alot of abuse but I don’t blame anyone accept the person who did it and myself for tolerating it so long before leaving him. (20 yrs.)

  • MacLeod Cushing

    Instead of staging a Concert for Valor featuring a bunch of mafia-controlled “artists” (puppets) why don’t the corporate sponsors of this event man up and demand that our veterans be treated with honor at the VA hospitals instead of having to wait months for treatment? And how about a little acknowledgement in the corporate media of the 50th anniversary of the start of Vietnam War? The anniversary of Gulf of Tonkin last August was completely ignored. It’s sickening. This country deserves the likes of Eminem saying “f*ck” to an audience of families. If the soldiers in the audience had any real “valor” they would kick Eminem’s butt in the parking lot for cursing in front of their wives and children.

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  • adamHolland

    Cry me a river. He told you he was Shady on his first album idiots! We loved it.

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  • Ben Bradshaw

    Are you serious? He is using his words to express his anger instead of his fists. That seems like the ideal message for soldiers suffering from PTSD.

  • gene

    Who cares about your opinion I’m a Vet and I love Eminems music I actually reflect on my own dealings with my witch X
    While listening too his songs! OOORAAAH Eminem!