Gender and Sexuality in Hip Hop Culture
Annotated Bibliography for Hip Hop Feminism Wiki Page
Balaji, Murali. “Vixen Resistin’ Redefining Black Womanhood in Hip-Hop Music Videos.”
Sage Journals, vol. 41, no. 1, 2 Dec. 2008,
The image of black women accepted by society has been shifting, but disagreement still occurs in who controls that image. When the women are empowered and proud of themselves, they still might not be controlling the sexual image they are giving off because the men around her are. This piece discusses the imagery of black women that we see all over the media and who it really is that controls, supports, and profits from it. That men are the ones who are in control no matter how comfortable or empowered a woman feels being sexual, it still is not on her terms.
Stephens, Dionne P. “Hip Hop Honey or Video Ho: African American Preadolescents’
Understanding of Female Sexual Scripts in Hip Hop Culture.” Sexuality & Culture, vol.
11, no. 4, 17 Oct. 2007, pp. 48–69.,link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12119-007-9012-8.
This piece delves into eight widely used labels for women in the African American community – “…Diva, Gold Digger, Freak, Dyke, Gangster Bitch, Sister Savior, Earth Mother, and Baby Mama”. All of them have connotations about the sexual activity of those they label. This text highlights the misconceptions in this area and the need for more research and work in order to destigmatize black female sexuality and sexual expression. Hip Hop culture capitalizes off of the young women of color who will either unknowingly fit the molds expected of them, or that they are aware of it and just accept that that is the place they have been given within the culture.
Stokes, Carla E. “Representin’ in cyberspace: Sexual scripts, self‐definition, and hip hop
culture in Black American adolescent girls’ home pages .” Culture, Health &
Sexuality, vol. 9, no. 2, 28 Feb. 2007, pp. 169–184.,
This piece focuses on defining, analyzing, and discussing some of the terms that are placed upon young women of color within the hip hop community; ‘Freaks’, ‘Virgins’, ‘Down‐Ass Chicks/Bitches’, ‘Pimpettes’, and Resistors. It highlights the need for change in how we refer to young women of color and how we, as a society, currently label them based upon how we perceive their sexuality. It will also discuss the ways which these women are impacted by labels given to them, and how they view themselves as well as the labels they use.
White, Theresa Renee. “Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott and Nicki Minaj: Fashionistin’ Black
Female Sexuality in Hip-Hop Culture—Girl Power or Overpowered?.” Sage Journals,
vol. 44, no. 6, 4 Sept. 2013, journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0021934713497365.
Hip Hop music has always had female sexuality at its forefront, specifically that of women of color. Whether in an empowered or objectified way, the sexualities of women of color are a major spectacle of hip hop music. This piece analyzes how two prominent females in the hip hop industry; Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliot, utilize sexuality in their music. As well as how it is used purposefully, this piece will also analyze how it ends up being a part of their music even unintentionally because of the stigma and expectation that is placed upon black women in hip hop. Additionally, if all instances of women using sex in music is perceived as objectification or if it can be done on the artist’s own terms in a more empowering way to reclaim what they are stigmatized for.
In the research I’ve done so far, some of the major issues with hip hop feminism is how it is perceived. Much like other types of feminisms, hip hop feminism has negative connotations to it. Since males do control hip hop spaces, those who speak of feminism in these spaces are stigmatized just as anybody who speaks of feminism in other male dominated areas where what they are saying may be stereotyped, misunderstood, or just simply discounted. As found in the Balaji reading, the most commonly portrayed image of women in hip hop, particularly women of color, is controlled by the men around them who control the space. Even when women appear empowered and controlling their own sexuality, the men around them are the ones most profiting off of them, as well as not being negatively impacted by the stigma and scrutiny that comes along with being a public female figure, especially one who appears to be embracing her sexuality. Additionally, as said in the Stokes piece, there are stigmatized labels for everything a woman can be. It is almost a right of passage for a woman in the public eye to be judged.
Much of the writings about hip hop feminism address this culture that embraces women to be portrayed as just hoes, strippers, or anything just for male pleasure, and she is never allowed to express her own contentment with herself or her self / sexual expression. It is obviously an issue that much of what is public information on this issue is written by men, only providing their opinions and views on the large scale. I tried to find readings that spoke to different aspects of how women are treated in hip hop culture; from labeling and stigma, to how women feel about themselves and their own expression, the oppression that is placed upon them, etc. As discussed in the White piece, women in the hip hop music industry go about dealing with the sexual aspect of their image differently. Some try to embody and embrace it to make an image and a brand and try to claim it, others are stuck with it, among many other experiences with it. The piece also differentiates the sexual nature that is forced upon these women versus the sexual empowerment that some of them choose to highlight in their clothes, music, etc. Embracing it also does not mean that they are not judged for explicit lyrics and dressing how they do. Even if it is expected of them, they are never totally immune to the criticism.