Feminism genuinely annoys me. Now that doesn’t mean I think we shouldn’t be allowed to vote or we should all have to be cleaning, child-rearing housewives, but the very existence of feminism in modern, increasingly equal times seems to only drag out the argument and actually hold women back: An image similar to the long-satired “Is it ‘cos I is black?” (Da Ali G Show, 2004) sketch comes to mind for me when people blame something on sexism against women. Unfortunately, on the subject of women in the music industry, there are still legitimate battles on representation and being taken seriously to be fought.
The genre of music in which this is most evident, and has been for decades, is rap. “In order to enjoy mainstream success, the requirement is for women in rap to be as physically attractive as they are lyrically proficient.” (Peterson, L. 2010). More often than not women don’t even get the chance to rap, and are most commonly mentioned by male rappers in a select number of scenarios, as detailed by Kubrin and Weiser (2009): “(a) derogatory naming and shaming of women, (b) sexual objectification of women, (c) distrust of women, (d) legitimation of violence against women, and (e) celebration of prostitution and pimping”. For a brief time female rappers such as Eve and Lil’Kim became influential in the genre, but they and other female rappers had to create masculine personalities through attitude and clothing to gain serious recognition.
Although it is suggested that recent years there is ‘‘greater diversity, more complexity, and dramatically mixed messages about the individual female persona and women’s roles in society’’ (Cooper, B. 1999), the prevailing image of women in rap puts them in the background, as a submissive sexual slave to the macho bravados of male rappers: “Cause she ain’t nuthin but a bitch to me. And y’all know, that bitches ain’t shit to me. I gives a fuck, why don’t y’all pay attention. Approach it with a different proposition, I’m Kurupt. Hoe you’ll never be my only one, trick ass beeyatch!” (Snoop Dogg, 1992).
A new tactic seems to have been taken to involve women in the rap foreground more recently, with rappers such as Nicki Minaj and Azelia Banks being prime examples of “a successful female artist [who] must not only be talented, but also able to titillate the gaze of an assumed male viewer.” (Peterson, L 2010) This acts a fake acceptance of women by allowing them recognition while expecting sexual objectification to continue, and for a female fan of rap creates disillusionment with the genre and the sexist world of music.
- Cooper, B. (1999) From Lady Day to Lady Di: Images of women in contemporary recordings,1938-1998. . International Journal of Instructional Media, 26 p.353-38.
- Da Ali G Show – Realness (2004) [DVD] London: Channel 4.
- Kubrin, C. and Weitzer, R. (2009) Misogyny in Rap Music: A Content Analysis of Prevalence and Meanings. Men and Masculinities, 12 (1), Available at: http://www.gwu.edu/~soc/docs/Kubrin/Misogyny_Rap.pdf [Accessed: 13th May 2013].
- Peterson, L. (2010) Nicki Minaj and the rise of the titillating female rapper. The Guardian, [online] 13th April. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2010/apr/12/nicki-minaj-female-rapper [Accessed: 13th May 2013].
- Snoop Dogg (1992) Snoop doggy dogg – aint no fun (if the homies cant get none). Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th0V-fxo9CE [Accessed: 12th May 2013].