Sisterhood Blog

Adam Yauch, Feminist Ally

By Sarah Seltzer

  • Print
  • Share Share
getty images
Adam Yauch

The world of music lost a treasured star today, when Adam Yauch, a.k.a. MCA, of the Brooklyn-born hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, died of cancer at the far-too-young age of 47.

Hundreds of thousands of fans who grew up with the Beasties are mourning Yauch’s musical contribution: the memorable rhymes and beats that provided a soundtrack for the seminal moments in our lives.

But in recent years, the group also displayed a commitment to progressive causes, including feminism. They didn’t have to be feminists for any commercial reason — in the world of popular music, feminist credentials don’t matter at all. In fact they might be demerits. But these Brooklyn boys simply grew up, realized that their youthful attitude had been wrong and spoke up about it.

When I think about the Beasties, I think first about the rebellious, obnoxious kids who first became famous. Then I inevitably remember their ability to move forward way past that phase, with rhymes like this one from MCA in the song “Sure Shot”: “I want to say a little something that’s long overdue/ The disrespect to women has got to be through/ To all the mothers and sisters and wives and friends/ I want to offer my love and respect to the end.

They also changed their offensive lyrics in concert and began to chastise regressive content in music — even their own.

Here’s part of the 1999 letter the Beasties sent to Time Out New York, apologizing for their previous homophobia:

I would like to … formally apologize to the entire gay and lesbian community for the sh—y and ignorant things we said on our first record, 1986’s “Licensed to Ill” …There are no excuses. But time has healed our stupidity. … We hope that you’ll accept this long overdue apology.

As Ana Carey wrote last year, the Beasties prove that “being a sexist idiot in your youth … doesn’t mean that you can’t grow up and learn something.”

The trajectory of MCA — who was born Jewish, but practiced Buddhism — proves that. He will be sorely missed.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Adam Yauch

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.