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.

I am Rosa Parks

There’ve been many before myself.
Brave women who decided they would not allow themselves
To be pushed around.
However, it is me
They call a heroine.
A term I do not deserve more the others.

‘That’s the lady who dared’

I hear my name in whispers around corners,
As people squeeze themselves in small cars,
And take long walks to workplaces and schools.

I have never felt more overwhelmed.
To see a community stand tall, strong and proud as one
regardless of colour?
Breathtaking.

There shouldn’t  be glory in standing up for oneself.
However, if it is what shall move the nation,
I shall gladly allow it.

For the right to speak one’s mind, should be a right for all.

The fire has been lit and it shall keep burning.
We shall not stop
Until we can all walk hand in hand, as one
And sit side by side, as one.

In remembrance of the Montgomery Bus Boycott that began on 1st December 1955 (-1956) after the arrest of Rosa Parks that very day. 

Nail Polish

credit @googleimages

For the first time in 18 years,
You dared to paint your nails.
Your selected colours, pastel purple and light gold.
You don’t know why you never dared to before, or do you?

Girls half your age doll themselves up with more gusto
Than you could ever dream of.
Yet, you have always been conscious of getting too mixed up in
All those stuff.
I think I know why.

I am proud though.
Proud that you are no longer afraid.
Proud that you are learning to do what makes you happy.
Proud that you are saying goodbyes to what ifs and embracing ‘how about now’s.

Simple thing have always made you happy.
You must have been over the moon these past few days.
I am glad you have realised that
You’ve been the needle in your foot.
It’s time to let go.
It’s time you start being yourself for yourself.

Your worth or lack of worth
Is not determined by how well you doll nor don’t doll up.
Though you shall never actively wear make-up
Because you think it destroys ones skin, I wonder what shall happen in the years to come.
I hope that whatever the case, you never succumb to societal norms just because.

At least promise me that.

Heartbreaks

She broke up with him today.

I’ve never seen her so distraught,
So vulnerable like ever before today.
For the very first time, her stubbornness had dissolved into water droplets.

It’s been said time and again
that love is a complicated thing.
There is a certain amount of courage, almost foolishness that makes you put your heart on your sleeves, each time.
Yet, almost like an addiction, I see them throw themselves at the risk.
Repeating the process that has now come to be normal with growing up – heartbreaks.

The thrill of a companion is what drives them most times.
I wish it wasn’t.
It’s a downhill fall if the solution to the hole within was to fill it with the sweet words of a companion.
For why would teeth be plucked out from excessive intake of sugar?

As ladies of a new generation,
I wish we wouldn’t be so vulnerable to societal norms.
I wish we would learn to see that self-worth is the best filling.
I wish we would learn to throw away the items society has thrown in our face to hide our flaws.
I wish we would learn to be comfortable in our own skin.
I wish we would learn to eat and dress for ourselves.
I wish we would learn to never be afraid to let out the warriors in us.
I wish we would learn to see how much more we could be,
if the strength came from within.

Exposed

via Daily Prompt: Exposed

I have seen her fall on make up after their fights.
She uses it to cover up their rocky relationship.

She doesn’t do it well.

He speaks out for women’s right, compliments strong women, but likes her under his wing.
He likes her at home, where he knows she shall always be safe.
He doesn’t like her begging him for money, but constantly gives her the change.

She appreciates it and smiles brightly each time.
She complains of being naive but doesn’t do anything about it.
She wants to be free but she fears being exposed, vulnerable to a not so safe world.

At night, when she sleeps, she dreams of courage.

During the day, she prays for a better life for her children.