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Archive for the ‘hip hop’ Category

“Look at Her Butt:” Nicki Minaj, Power, and Sexual Objectification

In body politics, feminism, hip hop, race on September 9, 2014 at 5:02 am

MinajSnarls

Melissa Sexton

Ever since Nicki Minaj posted the cover art for her new single in late July, I’ve been trying to finish a piece about the “Anaconda” controversy. Each time I had to push the project back, I feared that I had lost the relevancy so important to writing about popular culture. But sadly, there has been no lack of opportunity to reflect on issues involving women’s agency over the display of their own bodies.

Last week, unrepentant hackers posted stolen photos (real and photoshopped) of Jennifer Lawrence, Jill Scott, Kirsten Dunst, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and other female celebrities. The response was depressing if not surprising: mixed in with thoughtful critique, there were plenty of arguments about (men’s) free speech and (women’s) responsibility to protect themselves from exploitation by never, ever taking a photo of themselves or, ideally, never ever taking their clothes off outside of a private dressing bunker equipped with magnets to destroy photographic film and digital storage systems. It was a painful swirl of arguments that, to me, boiled down to a couple of confusing prescriptions for women: first, your body should never ever be publicly visible, so make sure that doesn’t happen; two, expect that men will do everything they can to make your body visible and be prepared to defend yourself; third, if your body should become visible, you will be held morally responsible, whether you chose to display your body or had your body displayed against your will.

This incident merely provides the most recent evidence that how we respond to the sexual objectification of women’s bodies is mostly about who is controlling the display. When women’s bodies are put on display by others, particularly men, we respond as though it is unfortunate but unavoidable. In the same way as victim blaming, this rhetoric figures the sexual desire of men as boundless and the moral responsibility of prevention as belonging to women. The female body is figured here as terribly powerful and terribly vulnerable, capable of short-circuiting men’s ability to act rationally or compassionately. The only way to deal with this power and vulnerability is through fear and containment. Wear long skirts when you go out and make sure your photos are inaccessible to hackers. Men don’t seem to be held culturally responsible for choosing to display women’s bodies when women fail to contain them.

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On “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film”

In hip hop, Jay Z, Marina Abramovic on August 5, 2013 at 4:48 am

Emily Arden

Re-posted (with permission) from The Daily Creative Project.

I wish I could embed this VIDEO right here in this post. (You can also view a great ARTICLE, with the video embedded.)

I’ll have to settle for posting this photo instead:

jaymarina

In my deepest heart I believe the intersection of artists – being purely themselves – while surrounded by other creative folks, is the key to creating peace and sustainability.

I don’t have words or a way to quantify this type of energy and inspiration. I’ve been searching for them. The words. Obviously this is a very utopian, simplified view. But the essence is what I’m getting at; creating creativity together sparks greatness.

It’s why I created ReSourceArts and am working to figure out how to create a physical space that can offer this kind of organic and magical interaction on the regular.

I believe we are all creative in our own right and all have something to offer. Given the right tools and circumstances, and permission – from ourselves and each other – to let go of fears and stereotypes and an out-for-myself mentality, magical things can happen. We all grow stronger – individually and as a community – for it. We can then go out into the world and continue to multiply this type of positive energy.

Jay Z’s video for “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film,” in my opinion, is a really wonderful reminder of this. I totally smiled the entire time. I loved Marina Abramovic’s PERFORMANCE PIECE, and I love that Jay Z reshaped the idea into his own performance art.

Artists and musicians are usually told they’re different. They don’t fit in. They’re crazy. They’re too much. But people who don’t see the world the way they’re told the world is recognize that quality in other people.” – Cedric Shine for the record: NPR’s music news

That sentiment is why, totally why, we all need to be working together and creating other kinds of communities. Cause we haven’t ever fit in. Sometimes it makes us more likely to go and continue to work in a vacuum. I see this all the time. I get frustrated by artists who operate this way. I get it. The self-preservation mechanism that sets in because we haven’t ever felt cared for, so we do everything we can to take care of only ourselves, as if there isn’t anyone else out there who can be trusted to do so. But there is another way. A kind of space that allows us all to be free to be us and within that amazingness, to connect with others and spark new kinds of amazingness. No need to be fighting for our little piece of the pie. Instead, to keep working to make the pie even bigger for us all to enjoy.

I’m glad for the reminder today, and excited to keep building, in my own small way, on this idea of creating connections and community.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Emily Arden Eakland, Director, ReSourceArts
Emily is a Creative Soul, Dancer, Educator, and Idealist who has a passion for all things slightly off the beaten path. Her wanderings have allowed her to work with a multitude of artists – from dancers and DJs to graffiti artists and musicians – in order to create entertaining and thought-provoking events and opportunities. She has also worked with young people in both traditional educational settings as well as in arts-related programming. She received her degree in arts management and education from Goddard College and continues to blend her artistic and management skills in order to create opportunities for artists to create and connect. For more on Emily and the organization she founded, please check out her websites: ResourceArts and The Daily Creative Project.

Replay: Nicki Minaj and Cassie’s “The Boys”

In hip hop on November 9, 2012 at 10:15 am

Melissa S. 

From my first viewing of Nicki Minaj and Cassie’s new video for “The Boys,” I was in love – and I was pretty sure that this was the pop cultural artifact I had been waiting for in order to unload the thoughts about third wave feminism that have been building in my mind over the past few weeks.

In this case, when I say “third wave feminism,” I’m talking about the way that women now are wrestling to navigate femininity and masculinity, cultural power and identity, in a time when choices are greater and there are competing visions of what it means to be a fully actualized woman. We’re now at a point where (as this blog aptly demonstrates) women are interested in reclaiming conventional forms of femininity with pride, whether that’s crafting, sporting cute skirts, wearing makeup, or becoming moms. We believe and assert that we shouldn’t have to be tough, aggressive, and otherwise conventionally masculine in order to be taken seriously as smart and thoughtful people. At the same time, we recognize that patriarchal norms endure. The victories that second wave feminism won relied on strategic masculinization: breaking into male-dominated arenas of cultural power required women to prove that they could play by the rules and then start thinking about transforming institutions from within.

But now, should women act like tough men to succeed in a still-patriarchal world or attempt to change this world? Women live in a tension between conventional masculinities and femininities. The ideal empowered feminist today will be simultaneously tough and sexy; able to strut in high heels or suavely sport a suit; able to roll her sleeves up and duke it out or able to let her hair down and laugh with the girls. These contradictory imperatives also create tension in her relationships to others, both men and women. If she is heterosexual, she is supposed to simultaneously attract men and be their equal, existing in the resonant state between at-work pal and sex object, one-of-the-guys and bombshell. Her relationships with women are equally fraught: she is supposed to be their sister in solidarity and their competition. Somehow, she is supposed to attract every guy, even theirs, and yet remain best friends with everyone. Somehow, she is supposed to beat women at work and then listen to their secrets over drinks, to beat men at work but then soften herself at home. Impress the guys but don’t intimidate them. Beat the women but then befriend them. Such conflicting mandates!

What I love about “The Boys” is the way it playfully captures these tensions. I’ve talked before about how Nicki’s highly successful career has involved the exact kind of high-wire act I described above. She made a name for herself by out-rapping guys and girls alike, by stealing the show from rap’s biggest names (“Monster,” hello?) and by dissing the other ladies as unable to keep up. At the same time, she’s taken the hip-hop mandate for women to become super-sexualized “black Barbies” to such a parodic extreme that it breaks down, becoming its own mockery (Phoebe argued this once with me in regards to the “Starships” video that I hated, but now I have become convinced that she is right, even if I still hate that video, haha). But many of her early successes were big-name features on men’s songs. While she’s collaborated with other women, those aren’t the songs that define her as a serious artist, as more than a pop star. They’re not “Monster” (with Kanye and Jay-Z), “Hello Good Morning” (with Rick Ross and Diddy), “Turn Me On” (with David Guetta), “All I Do Is Win” (with every rapper ever making records right now), “Knockout” (with Lil Wayne). And while Pink Friday was a mega-hit, it a) featured a lot of collaborations with male artists, such as Eminem and Kanye; and b) seemed split between more tough, conventional raps and more poppy songs for radio play. This album wrestles with the gender dichotomies of the music industry: for her to be a serious rapper, she has to rap like a man, but for her to be a mega-star, she has to sing like a girl. Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In hip hop, music videos, Weekly Round-Up, Women's health on June 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm
Here are some of the GLG folks favorite reads from around the web this week. Have a great weekend!

 

 

Some amazing thoughts on Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad” from Crunk Feminist Collective.

 

And over at Disgrasian, Jen Wang gracefully tackles Amy Sherman Palladino’s response to Shonda Rhimes in “Sorry but Criticizing a TV Show For Its Lack of Diversity Does Not Equal ‘Woman Hate.”

 

Crunk Feminist Collective breaks down the Supreme Court’s historic heath care decision: “Health Care, Reform, and Policits: Is the Supreme Court Crunk?

 

Lastly, a quick shout out and thank you to Fembot for linking back to GLG today!

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In body politics, hip hop, race, social media, Weekly Round-Up on June 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Here are some super interesting reads from around the web this week. Enjoy!

An intriguing read on social media, viruses, and violence from A.J. Aronstein, “The Plague Years” at the New Inquiry.

Arturo Garcia provides provides coverage about Jonathan Wall’s racist and violent treatment at a North Carolina bar, on Racialicious: “Grad Student’s Story Leads To Protest Against North Carolina Bar.”

Cord Jefferson has a terrific essay exploring the capitalist underpinnings of “No Church In the Wild” and the Watch the Throne version of revolution.

The writers at XOJane are public personae. Does that mean they can (or should) write about each other? Tracie Egan Morrissey considers Cat Marnell at Jezebel.

A great piece from Dances With Fat, “Feeling Fat vs. Being Fat” in response to Daisy’s “I’m Fat and I’m Not Okay With It” piece at xoJane.

Replay: “Turn Me On,” David Guetta Ft. Nicki Minaj

In hip hop, music videos, Replay on May 1, 2012 at 8:09 am

Nicki Minaj never ceases to amaze and intrigue the GLG ladies, and this video is no exception. David Guetta’s “Turn Me On” plays off the Frankenstein story, with Guetta as Dr. Frankenstein and Nicki Minaj and others as the Monster, or in this case doll-like creations. Nicki Minaj becomes Barbie here, as she is literally a doll–flesh built over complex mechanics–who runs out into the night and away from Guetta’s character.

Read on for some thoughts on “Turn Me On.” And we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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