by: April D. Byrd
When we see sexualized depictions of women in the media, that are self generated is it limitation or liberation? an age-old debate wrapped in the perception of a power struggle. So, it's redundant to continue feeding the illusion. Sexual liberation is not and issue. Smart women own their bodies, period.
Since the popularity of Rapper Lil Kim and the image she pervaded in the media. Hyper-sexuality in women came to be more worthy of discussion. In an infamous interview by Bell Hooks for Vibe Magazine it was debated whether Kim was furthering or hindering the cause of strong women.
Now the question has been regurgitated in the wake of Rapper Nicki Minaj's cover art and Viral video for Anaconda. In a recent Poll for Essence, the magazine inquired whether it was ok for women artists to exploit women's bodies. Something male artists clearly catch hell for.
If exploitation or celebration is the continual question at hand, then Nicki's specific byte from Sir-Mix-A- Lot's "Baby Got Back" is a case within it self. Which is more stunning: to be referred to as a child or the exclusive emphasis on Baby's "back"? but why are we still talking about this?
Being born into a media climate where sexuality and physical attributes are heavily stressed regardless of race, it took divine revelation and a brush with wisdom to conclude that I as a woman am more than my body...then being a black girl with a naturally skinny physique the cultural taunt is that I naturally should have a little more derriere. I've joked and mocked at my perceived "small booty" myself but the unpopular truth is, bodies are made to be unique. There is a great need to dismantle the stereotypical or manufactured images being received as right or perfect. Only 5% of women have the type of bodies we see on Billboards and TV commercials. Embrace that you're God's artwork and realize your capability as an artist. It is up to us to honor our bodies and own the representation of them.
In her rant: The Real Problem With Nicki Minaj's Anaconda Cover Art And Her "Black Jezebel" Brand Tiffanie Drayton exposes Nicki's attempt to highlight the voices of critics as a racial issue. In Minaj's defense she tweeted white female bodies in contrast to her's with the same pose, which does make sense, but Nicki's image as an artist still capitalizes on a central theme, and her brand reinforces the notions of Black Female Hyper-sexuality.
-- "In today’s America where the CDC reports that Black women are between 6-17 times more likely to suffer from sexually transmitted diseases due to social and economic conditions including poverty, income inequality, unemployment and low educational attainment, the need for a modernized scapegoat used to avoid culpability for the Black condition has never been more dire. Nicki Minaj is the current walking embodiment of that tradition of stereotype-enabled victim-blaming, proving that as a society, America has yet to defeat its racist notions and will even continue to invoke them to the economic and social benefit of the Whiter man."
The defilement, murder and disregard for life, given through the crisis in ferguson and the case of Mike Brown correspondingly bring victims like Jada, of #IAmJada to mind. Black women's bodies are under a constant surveillance, they are policed and scrutinized heavily in the media. They have suffered degradation and devalue through out the ages. The racialized fear of black female hyper-sexuality also transfers onto the sexualized white female body and the criminalized black male body.*
The prevalent hashtag presented by the NAACP: #blacklifematters equally applies here. The reality is ...LIFE Matters. No BODY should be sold short. Regardless of being any distinctive class of people. We're all living, breathing beings with life. #Imatter, #Lifematters, We all matter, beyond our physical bodies there is a soul. No life should be taken in vain, or taken for granted. The line between celebration or exploitation of female bodies...or life in general, is not thin AT ALL. It's up to every individual to put down the stereotypes, and push for integrity.