What’s Sex Got to do with…Nicki Minaj?

As defined in class, feminism is a movement for social, political and economic equality. After debating what defines feminism in our culture today, I took the time to look at public figures that stand out in people’s minds as feminist. As seen in the Beyonce and Meghan Trainor example from class, many celebrities and in particular performing artists, have the opportunity to exhibit or suppress feminist ideals through their lyrics, wardrobe, and shows.

Nicki Minaj, born Onika Tanya Maraj, is one such celebrity who sends powerful messages through her work and is often referred to as the most influential female rapper of all time. In spite of her outrageous costumes and explicit rap lyirics, or possibly because of them, Minaj has also been classified as a feminist and is most passionate about speaking out against the misogyny and double standards she has had to deal with within the entertainment industry. The following article can demonstrate insight into this. Minaj is not a performer who fits into the roles assigned to women in her industry. She represents a different kind of woman, one who is not concerned with her reputation or filling stereotypes. Instead, she is a boundary breaker who is a self-made artist who is determined to rise above her male counterparts. She has been scantily clad and overtly sexual since her start, and this pattern does not appear to be changing.

 

Yet Minaj’s brand of feminism can raise important questions: How can we call a woman who dances half naked on stage or gives men a lap dances in music videos a feminist? Is she doing everything against the goals of feminism by providing entertainment and pleasure for men?

I would have to argue that as unconventional as it may be, Minaj’s music video and song “Anaconda,” for instance, have underlying feminist themes.

This provocative video shows a woman owning and controlling her own sexuality. Some people may argue that her dancing is a sign of submission to male desires, but instead should seen as an expression of her desires independent of the men who see her. Minaj’s behavior and dress in the video demonstrate her confidence in her appearance and the empowerment she feels in her life. The lyrics in the video are particularly shocking and vulgar to hear, but demonstrate her out lash against gender norms seen in mainstream music.

After watching the video, it may be confusing for some people to understand the message Minaj is trying to make. Are her overly sexual and explicit songs an attempt to receive attention and create gossip around her performances, or is she behaving in this way to demonstrate her power and sexuality as a woman and standout in a highly male dominated industry? I believe that by publicly owning her sexuality, Minaj is demonstrating modern feminism by defying social norms and demonstrating that she decides who can can take part in these behaviors with her.

 

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3 thoughts on “What’s Sex Got to do with…Nicki Minaj?

  1. Thank you for this piece! I wonder, in light of our impending discussion of Deborah L. Tolman’s article on the ways young girls in the U.S. negotiate their sexual narratives and expression, if you could elaborate on what you mean when you say Minaj owns her sexuality? Which is to say, Tolman examines how girls’ sexuality development incites desire rather than expressing it–which she says offers the allusion that girls “own their sexuality,” when, in fact, their sexual expression is still anchored in really confusing and contradictory dynamics of objectification and double standards of gender. For you, are there ways in which this article resonates with your sense of Minaj?

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  2. After reading the article “Adolescent Girl’s Sexuality”, I believe that there is a big double standard in the ways in which women and men are supposed to act. If a man were to act scandalous and dance in a sexy manner, girls would just swoon and the media would con them the new “it boy”. However, because Nicki happens to be a female, consequences are vastly different. As seen in this article, women are expected to appear to be sex kittens, but then “incite desire rather than express it”. This makes no sense to me especially in this day and age when we are trying to get away from objectifying women. I believe that Nicki really is trying to own her sexuality and do things her own way by defying these social norms. In these confusing social standards, we as women are told that we could be anything and do anything we want to, and then once we act, it is controversial. All in all, I think Nicki is doing her and though it is scandalous and inappropriate, she shouldn’t have to live her life according to others.

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  3. I have to agree with Twadhawan’s comment. I think that Nicki Minaj is scandalous but she is doing what she wants in spite of the fact that it is controversial. By owning her sexuality, I mean that Minaj is expressing her sexual desires and she is doing so to please herself rather than for the benefit of a man.

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