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!
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • 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.