What we can learn from women rappers

Ed. note: This post is part of the second round of the Feministing “So You Think You Can Blog” contributor contest (background here). Stay tuned all week as our six finalists take turns turns covering the blog and giving us a sense of their personal contributor style. The winner of the contest and newest member of the Feministing team will be announced next week!

Do you remember the season finale of HBO’s Girls? The episode where Jessa threw a mystery party that turned out to be a wedding? Yep, that one. Something magical happened during that episode. Before anyone had time to process the shocking season finale nuptials, this song came on.

If I ever questioned why I loved the show Girls, this moment put those questions to rest. A black woman rapping about the marvelous talents of her vagina to set the celebratory mood at a wedding attended by only a few scattered people of color. There IS a god!

Women rappers like Lady have a special place in this hoochie’s heart. While we continue to demonize the sexuality of Black women and attempt to impose the politics of respectability on their lives, it is easy to target women in hip hop like Trina, Lady, and Lil Kim for their sexually charged lyrics, and place them in the margins. Do you remember Nicki Minaj like this? Didn’t think so.

Even within hip hop communities, male lyricists can talk about the ways they are going to “beat, kill, tear up, and drill” women’s vaginas during sex and we slap high fives and shout AMEN! But when Lady says that her “pussy be yankin” (which is very possible. See: kegel exercises) she has disgraced her gender and her race. Don’t believe me? Read the comments under the video.

We can learn a lot about agency, consent, women’s bodies listening to women rappers. When artists like Chella H give her mixtapes names like “The Abortion” and “The Morning After Pill,” she is confronting stigma about women’s reproductive decisions.

When women rappers clearly state the terms under which they are willing to engage in sex, they may not be adhering to the standards of lady-likeness, but they are definitely reclaiming their bodies and encouraging other women to do the same.

As a hip hop feminist, I have to respect the courage and presence of women rappers in a male dominated industry that too often leaves men to regulate our bodies and lives. If you are interested in learning more about the messy work that is hip hop feminism this book is a great place to start. It can be purchased on Amazon.

 

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