Nicki Minaj & the Policing of Black Women’s Bodies & Their Sexuality

 

Rapper Nicki Minaj (l.) dropped the album art for her upcoming single "Anaconda" last week. AllHipHop's CEO Chuck Creekmur (r.) is not having it.
Rapper Nicki Minaj (l.) dropped the album art for her upcoming single “Anaconda” last week. AllHipHop’s CEO Chuck Creekmur (r.) is not having it.

When I peeped the artwork for your latest single, I wasn’t even shocked, I was just disappointed. The song: “Anaconda.” The art: your booty in a thong. As a man, I can appreciate the virtues of your perfect posterior. The dad guy [him] is not a happy camper, particularly now that his lil’ girl is transitioning into a young lady. Now, the most popular, current Black female rapper starts overtly pushing her hyper-sexualized image again? Just my luck. I’m trying to raise a young girl. ~ excerpt from AllHipHop’s CEO Chuck Creekmur’s open letter to the rapper about her provocative image.

Chuck Muhammad Creekmur (that’s probably not his middle name, but we all know when a black man decides to becomes “enlightened” he gives himself a super ethnic-sounding name and plays Maxwell’s “A Woman’s Worth” on the repeat while his wife gives birth in a room that smells like Erykah Badu’s glovebox compartment – that’s grape seed oil and cinnamon incense if you didn’t know – so Muhammad it is), I need you take a seat in the “Fake Ass Socially Conscious Brotha” section next to the dudes who think that because they wear Kente cloth gym socks, they are the next great Civil Rights Leader. Honestly, Creekmur, who do you think you are? Just because your peen has expert-level Duck Hunt shooting accuracy, and you impregnated your wife and out popped a baby, does not mean that you are now the arbiter on what women, in particular black women, can and should be doing with their bodies. So fuck you for trying to publicly shame someone under the guise, “But sista, what about the children?”

Before I continue, I just want to make it clear that I’m not stating that anyone has to like Minaj’s album art. I’m also not proclaiming that parents have to be down with any and all imagery that’s in the public sphere and expose their children to it. Finally, I’m not asserting that imagery isn’t powerful. Of course it is. I believe every woman can attest to the role that that media has played in their sense of self and their understanding of their womanhood in relation to heterosexual males. So it is vitally important that parents take an active role in how little girls and boys process female sexual images and how that then informs their budding sexuality. However, it becomes rather dangerous, especially in a patriarchal society, when the policing of women’s bodies is being done by men. When female sexuality is defined on men’s terms and, most importantly, when female sexuality is regulated by the level of male comfort or discomfort. That is how things become despicabledangerous, even deadly. That is how we, in 2014, are in a place when any time a woman in the spotlight does something sexually that a man does not approve of, she is then taken to task by the dude, who now acts as an authority figure, expressing “disappointment” as if he is her grandpappy with whom she used to make gingerbread cookies with. Memo to all men who have not even shared a Dunkaroo with the woman they are judging, let alone put homemade cookie dough on parchment paper and into a 350 degree oven: your judgement has the value of an expired Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupon aka nothing. Which brings me back to today’s wanna be grandpappy, Creekmur.

The way Creekmur responded to Minaj’s exposed butt cheeks was the same as when I attempt to withdraw $20 from the ATM, but tells me I can’t because I only $17.83 in my checking account:

oprah i will not accept that

The “Anaconda” picture was not created specifically for Creekmur’s acceptance or approval. This is Minaj’s music and her career choice so why is he behaving as if his word carries any sort of weight? Sure, he’s allowed to have his opinions, but let’s be real. This open letter condemnation is nothing more than a man deeming a black woman’s overt sexuality as wretched when that kind of ruling is not applied to non-black women and he is hiding behind his child in order to do so. Let’s break down Creekmur’s letter (click here to read it in its entirety) shall we?

1) Creekmur was happy about Minaj’s toned down image, as it seemed she was becoming “a being that cares how this ratchet s**t affects my kid,” but clearly the “Anaconda” picture flies in the face of that, so now he is concerned. Negro, please. First, we need to retire “ratchet” as code for black ignorance. I know, I know, ratchet just entered the mainstream about a year ago, but some things are best when it’s a one and done season. Like Freeks and Geeks. The band 4 Non Blondes. Eight grade when I wore Osh Kosh B’Gosh overalls. The point is that ignorance is damn ignorance and assigning it to a particular racial group is trifling, especially in this case when a mere six months ago, this was all over newsstands, the internet, and television:

Supermodels Nina Agdal, Lily Aldridge, and Chrissy Teigen grace the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 50th Anniversary issue.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this cover features three non-black women posing with their butts and nary an open letter was written to any of these models about how detrimental this picture is. In fact, not only were they not condemned or labeled as “ratchet,” but Jimmy Kimmel Live devoted a segment of his Thursday, February 13th show to revealing the cover on national television, which was then followed by an exclusive, in studio interview the next Monday. Wow. I guess because combined, those three supermodels’ butt cheeks have the fullness of half a cheddar bay biscuit from Red Lobster, it’s OK to people like Creekmur. After all, this cover shows beauty and is a celebration of a “time-honored tradition,” right? UGH. There’s something wrong here, when black men do not publicly chastise non-black women for asserting their sexuality, but when a black woman is overtly sexual, it’s “ratchet shit.” All of a sudden, she’s damaging the chillrens or setting a bad example. And to those that may say, “Well, it’s because he’s black and cares about black women’s images in the media.” That’s where my “Fake Ass Socially Conscious Brotha” label from earlier comes into play. 

AllHipHop.com, Creekmur’s website, has ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN PAGES of news items about Chris “woman beater” Brown, has SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FOUR PAGES about Jay Z, (as much as I like some of his music, the fact that he didn’t realize calling women bitches and hoes ad nauseum was problematic until he had a daughter yet continued to rap about he’s going to make his wife “eat the cake Anna Mae,” which is a reference to the awful physical abuse Tina Turner suffered at the hands of her husband Ike is inexplicably idiotic) and ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN PAGES about R. Kelly, who by several grisly accounts, is a gruesome sexual predator. But it’s not just these guys. It’s everywhere. An overwhelming amount of misogynistic and sexually-explicit lyrics pervades mainstream hip hop; the countless scantily-clad black, Latina, and Asian women is everywhere music videos.

Somehow, all of that is fine, all of that is encouraged because it brings money to Creekmur’s and male rappers’ pockets and reflects a hyper masculinity that is readily accepted in society. Yet, it’s completely unacceptable for black women to be overtly sexual because “Oh, noes! What is everyone gon think if they show their caramel-colored booties?” Don’t believe the hype, y’all. The Fake Ass Socially Conscious Brotha is not concerned about how black women are perceived by society as sexual beings and how that perception has impacted them spiritually, emotionally, and physically. He is not concerned with that fact that women of color, especially black women, are either vilified or fetishized for embracing their sexuality yet never normalized. He is not concerned that women are indoctrinated with the notion that not being ashamed of exploring their own sexuality means they are loose and not worth of love and respect. Creekmur is concerned that a woman’s sexuality, and more specifically, a woman owning her sexuality on her terms, is power. He’s concerned that her being in your face (and without a man around as Minaj is in the “Anaconda” photo) instead of on her knees in front of a man in a R. Kelly video is not reaffirming the man as dominant. This leads me to number two…

2) “How will boys, already conditioned to sexualize girls at a young age, internalize this big booty of yours?”

Um, let me see. Boys can internalize her booty as “Someday, I shall marry a woman with a giant badaonk that can double as a resting place for unused duck sauce packets and my testicles” while gay boys can simply yell, “Pass!” like they’re a contestant on $10,000 Pyramid and go back to fappin’ to the oldies aka pictures of Usher at his prime when he was dating Chilli from TLC. Clearly, I’m being flippant, but I am sick of men behaving as though female bodies only exist to be filtered through the male psyche. That when women express their sexuality, whether publicly or privately, they must be burdened with having to think about what their sexual expression means to Men, who are not held to these same standards. They don’t necessarily have to think about how their bodies will attract unwarranted attention from women. Men aren’t taught to feel that their very essence is shameful. Men aren’t led to believe that their value lies in walking that tightrope of “sexy, but not to sexy.” But maybe, no, definitely, men should be taught what women go through. So Creekmur, if you must really know, the way to help boys internalize Minaj’s booty is as simple as HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH THEM ABOUT SEX AND WOMEN’S BODIES.

It’s about explaining to young men that they should be able to see a pair of ass cheeks and not. Lose. Their. Shit. Instead, they should do what women do when they see Channing Tatum’s bare butt on TV: take a picture of it, go to Kinko’s, have said picture blown up to 16×19, turn that into a placemat and then eat a zesty quinoa and black salad of it. #Kidding! Boys should understand that women are the owners of their bodies and can do what they want with them without commentary about their character or judgement from men. Boy should learn that women’s sole purpose is not to exist for the male gaze. But most importantly, what parents should do to help boys internalize Minaj’s big booty is to tell them to check their male privilege.

Check their male privilege that in that they think they can have absolute disregard for black women’s bodies when it is convenient for them (sexual harassment, physical violence, music videos and the term video ho, basically anything that is not at the service of their ID and sexual desires). And then turn around as Creekmur has done, and ask Minaj how her booty is raising young kids when he should’ve been asking how he is going to raise his daughter before he used his dick to make one. How he is going to ingrain in his daughter to love and respect herself and not let anyone’s judgment of her affect her self-worth. He is not going to pass down the double standard about male and female sexuality that he and cronies adhere to.

Check their male privilege when they only can take women into consideration by viewing them in relation to someone else, specifically a male. “That’s someone’s daughter,” “that’s someone’s mother,” “that’s someone’s sister” are often used in order to treat women with a modicum of respect. As if to say, “I guess we should consider this woman because she knows a dude.” No. Women are not valuable because they are relational. They are valuable because they are human beings. The fact that is not widely understood leads me to my next point…

Check their male privilege when their self-absorption, like Creekmur’s, knows no bounds. That all of a sudden because he is a parent, everyone must kowtow to what he deems is acceptable for his child, when these newfound standards did not exist prior to parenthood. I understand that not everything is for everybody, including Minaj, which is why I go on record by stating that any parent allowing their child to listen to Minaj and her explicit lyrics is a damn fool to begin with. Still, we all know children are going to want what they cannot have, do what they’re not supposed to be doing. That is why, Chuck Muhammed Creekmur, when you tell your daughter she is not allowed to listen to Nicki Minaj and she goes, “But, Daddy, why,” you can do what my parents did to me when I was younger and wanted to listen to Prince and Madonna:

bye felicia

And if your daughter goes, “Who’s Felicia,” pull up Urban Dictionary:

An expression used to dismiss someone. This person is usually irrelevant and annoying. This expression derived from the movie “Friday.” Example: 
“Can I borrow a dollar, I promise I’ll pay you back.” 
“Bye Felicia.”
“I promise!”
“BYE FELICIA!

Better yet, rename your daughter Felicia and you won’t have to explain anything. “Daddy, can I have McDonald’s for dinner? “Bye Felicia.” “Daddy, I accidentally deleted Game of Thrones off the DVR. Can I still go to my friend’s sleepover?” “Bye Felicia.” “Daddy, I know I’m fourteen, but can I post of a picture of my ass being on display like it’s the paper hand turkey I made in third grade for the school’s Thanksgiving celebration?” “BYE FELICIA!” And she will promptly go sit her black ass down. Raise your child, Creekmur, to not view female bodies the way that you do. Raise your child and stop looking to people like Nicki Minaj to be your child’s role model when they are plenty of people – Kerry Washington, Lupita N’yong’o Neil deGrasse Tyson who can do that. Or better yet, how about you and your wife be the role model your daughter needs. After all, is that what you’re there for?

Author: Blaria

According to Serial Optimist, NYC-based stand up-comedian and writer Phoebe Robinson “is brilliant and able to critique some really complex concepts in a sentence or two. Bask in it, people.” Which is precisely what The Huffington Post is trying to get people to do when it listed her as one of “18 Funny Women You Should Be Following On Twitter,” but with the way things are going, it seems the place to follow her is on TV. Phoebe is a writer for MTV’s Girl Code and most recently co-hosted an episode of the new series Raising McCain, wrote on the VH1 pilot Chateau Buteau, appeared on FX’s Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell and Comedy Central’s Broad City, was a panelist on VH1’s Big Morning Buzz, and has been featured on several talking head shows for Pivot TV, VH-1, and the TV Guide Channel such as 100 Shows to See Before You Die, 25 Biggest Reality Star Blunders, and 40 Greatest Hip Hop Songs. When not on television, Phoebe’s a writer for Glamour.com and contributes to The New York Times. Her blog Blaria (aka Black Daria) was picked up by The Huffington Post and has been featured on their website. She has also been published in Time Out NY, The NY Post, and The Smoking Jacket. Phoebe has also made her mark in the world of stand up. She was a finalist in NBC’s Stand Up for Diversity competition and was a part of their 2011-2012 USA college tour. Since the tour, she has performed in the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, the Eugene Mirman Festival, the New York Underground Comedy Festival, the All Jane No Dick Festival, SF Sketchfest, the Women in Comedy Festival, the Brooklyn Comedy Festival, and the New York Comedy Festival. Phoebe has also branched out into radio as she has been on Sirius XM’s Raw Dog Comedy, Canada’s CBC Radio, and bitch magazine’s podcast.

4 thoughts

    1. Aww, thanks so much, doll! This is my first written Blaria post in a while, so I was nervous about how people were going to receive it. Share it with peeps if ya want! xoxo

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