Andrew KnoxHUM 125 – Reflection Paper #5 November 16, 2010
Reflection Paper #5: Gender, Sexuality and Hip-Hop
Female rappers have it rough. Besides the standard industry pressures (struggling for success,artistic credibility) that male rappers face, female hip-hop artists are weighed down by sexism and theexpectation of smooth promiscuity that comes with it in a male-dominated art form. Young women,while trying to establish their identity as an entertainer, are often forced to side with one of two camps.Female MCs must choose to either cherish their womanhood and the sanctity of a monogamousrelationship at the expense of possibly losing popularity among a sexually-focused male audience or she can flaunt her “assets,” using the power of her irresistible beauty to force men to pay her bills at theexpense of her dignity.Some say that both segments of the female hip-hop artist universe, “chaste” and “sexy,” bothexpress viewpoints within the feminist spectrum. Sexy female MCs, such as Lil' Kim and FoxyBrown
, view their amorous behavior as empowering based on the fact that their game is to makesomething from nothing. They convert their intangible, nontransferable attractiveness into finitevaluables, such as cars, jewels and money. On the other hand, chaste MCs, like Queen Latifah, MCLyte and Salt-N-Pepa, wear more modest attire and suffer no fools. This is not to say that such womenare actually celibate, they merely wear their sexuality with a stripe of masculinity that is generally lessattractive to men.
Since female MCs have to pick a side from the start, they have fewer creative directionsavailable to them. Male rappers are MCs, but female rappers are female rappers. Whereas malerappers are categorized by genre before gender (50 Cent is a gangsta rapper, Mos Def is a consciousrapper), most female rappers are distinguished from the rest by their gender before their style. Their