Intersectionality

The number one streaming song of the week January 12, 2019, according to Billboard was the hip hop/rap song Sicko Mode by Travis Scott ft. Drake. Like most if not all rap songs, the persona, Travis sings about all the women he has ‘gained’ because of his music career and about sex. This was evident from the lines: “All of these hoes I made off records I produced/(Don’t stop, pop that pussy!)”( Lenniger) Likewise, one minute and forty-two seconds into the music video, Travis is seen with numerous women of African descent lying with their butts facing the camera, on the floor of what looks like an abandoned car park in nothing but a bra and a G-string. He, on the other hand, sits half-naked on a sofa in front of all of them. The display of women of African descent in provocative clothes or bikinis dancing or interacting with the two rappers continues throughout the video.

The image created is that the worth of women of African descent is based on their sexual appeal (Gordon 246), and they exist only to serve men. This is because only women of African descent are being hyper-sexualized and sexually objectified in the music video. The image denies these women the power to be equal to men as they are “reduced to body parts rather than as whole persons with thoughts, feelings, and desires” (Gordon 246). In addition, they are denied the power to create their own narratives, because the image normalizes the stereotype of women of African descent as naturally sexual, fertile, and submissive to men. Hence, the image is controlling, and the dominate group men create the identity of women of African descent as “the other”. (Collins 68)

Malcolm X once said that “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman.” (Common) One area where this is very evident is hip-hop, which was birthed in America, because “the proliferation of highly sexualized and exoticized images of women…in numerous hip hop music videos…for the most part, [are] of African descent” (Maultsby and Burnim 306-307) . Hence, these women are not only perceived inferior to men, they are perceived inferior to women of other races too. This sexual objectification in the hip hop culture reflects different forms of oppression for women of African descent – their race, their gender, and their sexuality.

The group that benefits from the image discussed, apart from the music industry who receives lots of money from the popularity of hip-hop music, is men. This is because they get away with objectifying women of African descent and sexually taking advantage of their insecurity. When a negative image such as the devalue of self-worth is constantly repeated, it is “embedded in psyche”, and it eventually becomes the nature of the individual (Gammage 51). In addition, due to cultivation theory (Gordon 246), young girls and women of African descent grow up believing that they have to be sexually appealing to get and keep a significant other. However, young boys, and men are victims of the image too. They grow up with the notion that having sex is equivalent to power, and incorporate that into their lives and music, even if they enter the industry because the art form demands they speak of their reality. This creates not only a cycle of the image but of abusive relationships in the culture too.

The consequences of this cycle and this image are numerous. For example, girls of African descent are sent home from school because of violating dress codes, when in fact, it is because the institution “deems their bodies too provocative” (NowThisNews).

Due to the fact that the image of women of African descent intersects multiple areas, its solution needs to be intersectional. Liberal Feminist tools are required to tackle gender inequality because ‘female rappers’ don’t have the same opportunities nor popularity in the music industry. Poststructuralist Feminist tools are required to educate rappers on the impact of what they say, how they talk about, and depict these women. Marxist Feminist tools are required to stop the music industry from exploiting these women’s sexuality. Post-colonial Feminist tools are required to reverse European enslavement of Africans and colonial enhancement of the hyper-sexualized treatment of these women’s femininity (Gammage 34). Action needs to be taken now!

Works Cited

Common. “Malcolm X.” Twitter, Twitter, 24 Dec. 2017, twitter.com/common/status/944995848886218752?lang=en.

Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought. Routledge, 2000.

Gammage, Marquita Marie. REPRESENTATIONS OF BLACK WOMEN IN THE MEDIA: The Damnation of Black Womanhood. TAYLOR & FRANCIS, 2017, http://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781315671550.

Gordon, Maya K. “Media Contributions to African American Girls Focus on Beauty and Appearance: Exploring the Consequences of Sexual Objectification.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol. 32, no. 3, 2008, pp. 245–256., doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2008.00433.x

Lenniger, Shea. “Here Are the Lyrics to Travis Scott’s ‘Sicko Mode’.” Billboard, Billboard, 26 Sept. 2018, http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/lyrics/8477102/travis-scott-sicko-mode-lyrics.

Maultsby, Portia K, and Mellonee V. BurnimIssues in African American Music: Power, Gender, Race, Representation. Routledge, 2017, http://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781315472089.

NowThis News. “Author Monique Morris Shines A Light On The Black Girl’s Unique Experience In America.” NowThis, NowThis News, 29 Aug. 2018, http://www.nowthisnews.com/videos/her/author-monique-morris-on-black-girls-unique-experience-in-america.

“R&B/Hip-Hop Streaming Songs.” Billboard, Billboard, http://www.billboard.com/charts/r-and-b-hip-hop-streaming-songs.

2707

Today I undeniably felt loved
and it was great
despite me feeling like shying away from the emotions I was showered with

Today I learned once again that love isn’t about whether you make mistakes, or have arguments,
it is about how you resolve them
and ensure that they aren’t repeated

Today I learned that I am not entitled to anything,
not to anybody’s kindness or commitment;
it’s a gift
just the same way my consistency is

Today I have decided to be vulnerable,
to ensure for myself that my actions are deserving of kindness, and surround myself with people who challenge me to be loving; to be humble

child

it’s saddening to see that
time and time again
females fall victim to modelling the standards
and behaviours that society has foolishly inked
as necessary to find a male partner
of which
does nothing but slowly burn a hole in their souls
and feed toxic masculinity

Waterfront Station

The fact you were late
and the way you dressed were a disappointment

I didn’t want you to hold my hand at all
The idea made me feel an uneasiness like never before
Your hands brushing against mine
Caused me to put mine in my pocket the whole time

My innocent demeanour made you call yourself a ‘rebel’ but your attempt to impress cracked your act
Your insecurity was like a giant shadow that towered you
Your inability to talk about yourself removed the maturity from your years
Your questions were bullets I used my laughter to dodge

The fact that you had no plan made me want to cry
The accent you tried to pull off made me want to turn back round
The constant attack at yourself and your value made me feel sorry for you
The mere thought back to the moment makes me feel sick in the stomach and I wonder if I shall ever laugh at the experience

However, this was a two player game
I wonder if you saw a reflection of yourself in me
I wonder if your awkward attempt at saying hi when our eyes locked was a reflection of your disappointment
I wonder if you heard the frustration in my voice and shot questions as a shield
I wonder if you mistook my laughter as encouragement

I can’t lie and say I don’t feel guilty
There is a little part of me that feels bad for giving you hope, but
There is a bigger part of me that knows you can’t see the full picture of a jigsaw puzzle by just picking up two of its pieces

Mist

I’m on the bus now wondering to myself who I could call if I have an emotional breakdown this very moment

One name comes to mind, but I don’t know what to say

I don’t know if she shall deal with my fragile state with the same amount of care i would hers or anybody else’s

I know that she wouldn’t know what words to say, when to say them and thus I shall have to do the bandaging myself, only to have her watching at the corner

I hate being vulnerable, I know that very well,
and maybe it is because I have learnt that when you put expectations on people, they always disappoint,
so I have learnt to compress my emotions like recycled can drinks before they become new soft drinks

And I know very well, that I have been lucky that there hasn’t been an eruption right deep in my being, however my luck is running out

I begin to see it crystal clear, I have allowed people to treat me as their emotional garbage

Always there to hear their problems, to sit with them to find solutions, yet always tossed to the side when life is going great for them

And my ice cube justification better me than people who shall hurt them is slowly but surely turning into mist

Every point in my life, I relearn the lesson, you only have yourself at the end of the day

Times Like These

Today,
for the first time in 3 years,
I feel the breeze in my hair;
on my scalp,
freedom reaching into my soul.

It is times like these that you wonder
why you could not feel hope under the rubble
why you could not feel empowered after a heartbreak.

It is times like these that you wonder
what exactly makes life so hard
what makes your bone crack like grounded cocoa, bitter sweet.

7:35 am

Today I woke up with my heart heavy,
with my chest tight,
and my eyes dry

Today I woke up and wanted to lie back down,
where I disappeared for hours at end,
and not deal with the world

Today I woke up and found out once again that I stick out like a sore thumb in this world;
not quite at each end of the spectrum of fun,
and thus right smack in the middle of lame

Today I woke up and hated how I spent other days when I could breathe in fresh air;
kept myself hidden in a box,
instead of floating on the clouds

Today I woke up and thought about self-worth and self-love,
and wondered if they were the same,
if they were reminders that you have no guide but yourself to help you see when the world turns dark

A Unicorn

Unexpected, there you were
like a scene from a movie

Novelty you walked like,
straight into my heart

I wasn’t sure whether to smile or speak,
so I just stared,
I must have been starstruck

Calm like the ocean waves your demeanour
yet you lit a flame across my chest,
so strong,
it sparked to the tip of my fingers

Out of a dream you seem,
rare but possible,
difficult but simple

Right deep in my being you have marked yourself,
even though your name is a distant star

Now I wonder what story-tale I would be living if I had opened my mouth,
or moved my legs,
and not let a miracle pass me by