The recent resurgence of female rappers in the mainstream strata was a boon. Growing up, I had an over-the-line obsession with Lil’ Kim that trickled down to every other lady rapstress active in the game: Missy Elliott, Da Brat, Eve, Mocha, Ms. Jade, Foxy Brown… The list was long, and I put thankless hours of my awkward early teen years into digesting and memorizing full catalogs. It was what opened me to rap’s greatest through association. I listened backwards in time, swinging from artist to artist, figuring out alliances, enemies and history. It was a the foot in the door to what swiftly became one of the, if not the biggest, parts of my life.

Something happened around 2005 that isn’t quite clear. Female rappers faded. Eve hasn’t dropped an album since 2002’s Eve-Olution. Kim’s last album, 2005’s The Naked Truth, was her sole album that didn’t go platinum. It didn’t even go gold. Foxy became more known for her legal problems than her stellar, possibly best, third album Broken Silence, released in 2001. Dear Miss E. unleashed her sixth album The Cookbook in 2005, got sick and vanished from the game. Remy Ma went pop, dropped and got locked up.

Which is why I felt those teenage pangs of excitement when I first learned about Nicki Minaj. It was slightly prior to the release of her breakout mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty that positioned her as rap’s next coming of the Lady Emcee. Here was a girl who could spit better than most rappers, gender aside. She had the sarcastic lilt of a theater major, but the control to grind words into sharp rhymes on command. I was excited, and entirely invested. It felt like Lil’ Kim all over again (let’s not venture into what Kim is doing now, no one is proud of it).

Then, Nicki did what most artists do when their star rises: she lost sight of what made her such a firework. She would call it growth; I will call it selling out. Brand me a purist, but I’d rather one of my faves be hunched over in a staircase, waving bundles of cash and spitting titanium 16s than embracing the earnest, nut-selling pop puppet that forgot about Queens.

That’s why 2012 felt ripe. It was happening all over again, those Nicki Minaj feelings, only this time with an upstart named Azealia Banks. I heard “212” in late 2011. We were on the early bus, and we fell deep, and hard. Unearthing older tracks (“Hood Bitch” remains a staple), quilting her lyrics into vernacular (quirky colloquialisms make you hip to the unknowing, FYI), reenacting her video at parties… This girl was the package. And there were no warning signs that she would become the President of Club Play Yourself, even when she signed to a major label.

Only, once Fantasea was released, my attraction began to wane. Not only was it a supreme disappointment (if I want to hear witch-hop, I’ll troll the Tumblr tag), but it came following an even frothier New York City debut at Bowery Ballroom. But, I supported. I wrote about her. I bought her 1991 EP. I pushed her tracks onto friends. Because I had faith that she would deliver, and continue to deliver, even if she slipped at times. Because that’s what fans do.

Then, it started with a tweet about how rappers who aren’t from New York, can’t claim New York. It was a clear subliminal towards Angel Haze. I have been a vocal advocate for Haze as well over the past year. Her Reservation EP is smart, frenzied, demure - all in one bundle. If you need any proof that Haze could be the future, just watch the video for “Werkin Gurls.” Only once before did I sit and memorize a rap like this by going line through line (it was Da Brat’s verse on Missy Elliott’s “Sock It 2 Me,” which I can still do like a boss).

Haze took the bait. Something had happened behind the scenes that we are still unclear about. They traded barbs on Twitter. Banks accused her of latent lesbianism. Haze called her a “charcoal skinned bitch,” a disgusting and racist statement that she tried to smooth by explaining that she was calling her skin “crusty,” and not a mark of her descent. Yeah the fuck right. The gross implications of her epithet became evident: she’s retweeted and is still retweeting apologists who actually justified this racist slang on a REGULAR basis.

Last night marked the end. The end of a few things. For two rappers who are so valiant in their womanhood, they showed how little respect they have not just for their fans, but for themselves. That they would devalue their entire credibility just to taunt each other from behind screens. That they would reveal themselves as such weak women when they’d worked so hard to prove that they were so much more than that.

It was the end of my respect for Azealia with a duo of tweets: “@perezhilton lol what a messy faggot you are.” “A faggot is not a homosexual male. A faggot is any male who acts like a female. There’s a BIG difference.”

And, just this morning, she tweeted, “Really not as moved by this f word thing as u all want me to be. As a bisexual person I knew what I meant when I used that word.” “And I meant what I meant when I used that word.”

To unpack what she said in the first pair of tweets, Azealia conveyed a deep misunderstanding of the power that comes with epithets, as well as epithets themselves. To say that “faggot” is tied to a man who acts like a female is outrageously reductive. It’s a fifth grade understanding of the word, and it ignores the deep-rooted injustice that applies not just to feminine men, but to all gay men. To distinguish any gay man from another by justifying it through semantics is inane, backpedaling and insulting to the gay community. You know, the one that helped get you here in the first place.

At that, for someone who makes money through words, she should know better than to isolate a word from its general meaning. Especially one that can debase a person with a single swipe. Is this really what we have to be fighting for in 2013? When gay marriage is being made legal across the country? The fight that gay and straight people have been fighting for years? It’s hard to believe that this type of ignorance is still running rampant, especially from someone who describes herself as bisexual. She’s one to know just how important labels are.

And as for the fallout? “My most sincere apologies to anyone who was indirectly offended by my foul language. Not sorry for Perez tho. Lol.” Otherwise: sorry if my meaning of the word offends you, but I’m not sorry I used it to hurt another person by reducing them to their sexuality.

I don’t know why I thought Azealia was actually smarter than this. And I’m even surprised by how much this deeply offends me (if you follow me on Twitter, you know I went IN last night). But in the scope of my love of female emcees, and my hope that they will all one day tower over a hyper-masculine hip-hop culture, I’m shocked that someone who I invested so much time in would make that dream impossible. Ignorance does not float to the top. Fans of hip-hop - especially of Azealia - deserve more than that.