Raphael Saadiq’s ‘Good Man’
This song paints a familiar picture of masculinity, wherein a “good man” plays the role of the provider and bread winner. The narrative in the song implies that the “good man” is entitled to his partners affection. Certainly there is a lot to unpack from this version of black masculinity in America, and the related structural inequality that black families face. However, what concerns me the most is the video that accompanies this lyrical narrative of a “good man.”
I’m concerned for the picture of domestic violence that is painted by the director. In North America existing research finds that most allegations of domestic violence in the context of family law proceedings are made in good faith and with support and evidence for their claims.
It very rarely “pays” for a woman to falsely accuse a man of domestic violence. Convictions are low; family members are less likely than other people convicted of violent crimes to get a prison term in most cases of violence. Furthermore, a study in San Fransisco found that men, rather than women, were more likely to make unsubstantiated claims of domestic violence in divorce proceedings. It’s an odd narrative to construct, (in which there is monetary benefits for a woman to concoct false accusations) and one that plays into many of the myths about domestic violence.
I believe that a patriarchal society has an invested interest in perpetuating myths about domestic violence. Authority in the family is part of the masculine ideal, and acknowledging the prevalence of domestic violence in the nuclear family could undermine the legitimacy men enjoy as the accepted default patriarch of this family. With violence, control, and authority being central to the masculine ideal it is certainly worth discussing masculinity when looking at the root causes of domestic violence in society. Instead, when this video engages with the topic it maintains this masculine ideal and shifts the focus to false allegations of domestic violence and an untrustworthy (and apparently ungrateful) woman.
It is a disappointing artistic effort from an artist I am fond of. I am going to his show here in Vancouver next week, perhaps I’ll bring it up if I get the chance to meet him after the show.