Explicitly, Like A Woman Scorned

Women explicitly love Hip-Hop and not just passively but with a fervent dedication towards the art form. So why are women who are just as vital to this industry, not valued like the women who love pop?

Clashing Agendas – Feminist or Racist?

Last week, Nicki Minaj took to Twitter to call out the ‘industry’ about their ‘celebration’ of a particular kind of female body image but Taylor Swift retaliated because she thought she’d been singled out and decided to call out Nicki using the cause of feminism itself.

Two of pop music’s biggest stars had ignited a clash of the titans – and although arguably not the most likely candidates to really carry the mandate for the feminist cause – they seemed to have kicked off a frenzy in the media.

Lets get real, were they really talking about issues like the objectification of women, striving for sisterhood, or actually confronting racism within the industry head on? Hell no, it looked more like a cat fight with the media cheering on as these two women were pitted against each other so they could eventually proclaim their victor.

Put plainly it didn’t seem worth the attention – Nicki may have touched on the point that the ‘white media’ had been ignoring the influence of Black women in Pop Culture for years but had she really set out to spark a conversation about the exclusion of black women overall. Or had she just coveted an award that was about rewarding women who were titilating and provocative enough to warrant a MTV gong?

Pop culture has monopolised the objectification of women for years and lately its been trying to monopolise the cause of feminism. While women are still battling over what feminism even means today – who’s actually fighting for the fight for female equality? Does anyone even know what the cause even needs from women or what women actually want from feminism?

At what point, if any, do women even need a cohesive and collective voice?

Is Feminism just being Provocative or Perverse?

The rising tide of ‘Pop Feminists’ feels like another excuse for getting away with using more explicit and extreme images of women in the name of ‘provocation’. Lines are getting blurrier between what’s actually empowering for women and what’s just damn right confusing. It’s all so extreme it’s enough to make your head spin.

Any woman trying to call out today’s modern day ‘pop feminists’ risks falling between the cracks of being accused of ‘slut-shaming’ or being a called a ‘slut’ – the way things are looking either way, if you call out another woman – you best be ready to spread eagle and get tied up in the name of feminism.

So where’s the space left for a difficult conversation about what constitutes a complete sanitization of extreme sexual and violent images of women and when will we actually be able to take control of our own bodies?

When interviewed earlier in the year by Creative Review, FKA Twigs talked about why it was important not to use sex for the sake of it saying “Im fine with nudity but let’s not do it for no reason. I’m fine with sex, but let’s not do it for no reason. I don’t mind wearing loads of make up and having my hair done so I can look as cute as I can look but let’s not do it for no reason at all. What is the purpose of this? Why do I have to look like that? What does my hair have to be like that?”.

So What Reason is The Right Reason?

FKA is the epitome of a complicated and confident woman who’s asserting her creative autonomy and not letting others dictate her identity or perpetuate myths about women  but when she appeared in a super-sexy spread for V Magazine in the same month, there was ‘no reason at all’.

Lets be real, pop music thrives because of a commercial industry which supports it and capitalises on it through fashion, beauty, technology and drinks endorsements. Stating it in his own words in PAPERMAG, Kanye was explicit about the compromises pop-artists make today,

‘We have to compromise what we say in lyrics so we don’t lose money on a contract’.

Even a ‘horror-core’ video like Rihanna’s BBHMM, can be dolled up today as a pop revenge fantasy for the masses, but it doesn’t stop Rihanna from attracting millions in endorsements for clocking those views on YouTube.

So Why the Hell are Pop Artists Masquerading as Feminists?

Well do women who love hip-hop see themselves as feminists? Oh hell no! And it’s not because they’re all campaigning for misogyny – but they’re also not willing to brush Hip-Hop aside by its stereotypes either.

Hip-Hop’s media perception hasn’t done it any favours in the name of feminism but its the fierce lyricists in Hip-Hop like Salt N’ Pepa, Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliot, to name a few, who’ve have had more influence on the feminist agenda over the years. While debatably body image today is worthy of a conversation – more importantly there needs to be a bigger conversation about the degrading objectification of women across the whole music industry overall.

If you can get past the cover of V Magazine, when more often then not its portraying a scantily clothed pop icon, there may be words inside that are still worth reading – Minaj stated in an interview for V “I always feel it’s important for me to show females that they can be in charge of their own situation. … When I win and when I lose, I take ownership of it, because I really am in charge of what I do. There are a lot of strong male rappers, who’ve influenced me a great deal in terms of my skill, my flow and my business-savvy side. But at the end of the day, I still want to inspire women.”

There are increasing numbers of women visibly standing on the frontline of Hip-Hop gigs and not stereotypically as groupies. They can spit a verse word-for-word and are just as fanatic about hip-hop as any man, which is often simply underestimated. There are certified accountants, scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs and even bankers who simply just love hip-hop – and many of these women don’t view pop-artists as representing a feminist voice that speaks for them!

Front Row at Migos
Front Row at Migos

Women across many generations and professions are defying the stereotypes that if you’re a feminist you can’t be a fan of Hip-Hop! So why is there a widespread perception that ‘culture defining feminism’ can only be the premise of Pop culture and needs to be rewarded there to be valid?

Whats really going on with the plight of feminism itself – will it simply go out of fashion again when pop gets bored of it? Or do we even care enough about the perception of women because of the pop industry to force it to change – once and for all?