Stupid Bitches & Hoes: The Stagnant Position of Women In Hip Hop

“You a stupid ho. Stupid. Stupid. Ho”, raps Nicki Minaj, the current leading mainstream female ...

“You a stupid ho. Stupid. Stupid. Ho”, raps Nicki Minaj, the current leading mainstream female hip hop artist. She raps these simplistic and redundant lyrics to her song, whose title matches the chorus. As always she appears clownish. In the video, she is seen caged and crawling around in clothing that is meant to display her mutilated and surgically-enhanced, padded, and disproportionate body. For this reason, it is fitting that she refers to herself as a “Barbie Doll,” because it directly correlates to her appearance and position in hip hop. She, like Barbie, is an artificial representation of feminine beauty, especially her outlandish wigs and shiny weaves, which resemble the hair of manufactured dolls. However, even more troublesome, she like a doll, is easily manipulated and exploited in any way that her “owners” like. You can bend the doll, dress, or undress her, however you feel fit.

Thus, in this case the manipulators are the men who continue to retain power and influence in hip hop. When it comes to mainstream music, they continue to manipulate the image of the feminine to their personal liking. So, in just a few decades after its early hey-day of the late 1980s and 1990s, which saw strong examples of womanhood, with artists such as Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Salt & Pepa, YoYo, all the way to Missy Elliot; gender balance within hip hop has become overwhelmingly unequal. Masculinity is deemed as superior, so the music and lifestyle resolves around stories of sexual prowess and womanizing, along with tales of financial and hyper-masculine grandeur. While women, including Nicki Minaj and her cartoonish demeanor, are just props. In essence, the culture represents a vicious dehumanizing of women, and reduces them to nothing more than body parts and orifices that are made to be penetrated. 

Even the attempts at hip hop “Romance or Love” songs are laughable and disappointing; especially being that there is no mention of “Love” or “Respect”, unless the man is in love with that “Ass” and promises to “Beat it Up”, but in the same breath declares that he simply wants to “toot it and boot it”. In other words, hip hop has surely drifted away from the era where a woman could obtain some acknowledgement and be seen as more than just a sexual being, and even more importantly as an equal; such as in the case with the classic duet performed by Method Man and  Mary J. Blige, where he exclaims,

“Shorty I'm there for you anytime you need me
For real girl, it's me in your world, believe me
Nuttin make a man feel better than a woman
Queen with a crown that be down for whatever
There are few things that's forever, my lady
We can make war or make babies
Back when I was nothin
You made a brother feel like he was somethin
That's why I'm with you to this day boo no frontin”



 This derogatory and ever-growing misogynistic music continues to fill the airwaves and becomes almost inescapable. Even those who have sworn off the genre or certain artists find themselves being pulled in by the hypnotizing drum beats. In truth, percussion, the sound of drum beats – are instinctively alluring to people of African descent. We want to move to the sound, we find ourselves nodding or tapping our feet, may even rush out to the dance floor; only to have to retreat to our seats when we actually stop and listen to the extremely offensive lyrics. Sadly, far too many women remain on the dance floor dancing to the music, purchasing the music, and allowing it to blare from their speakers. Not knowing that the more that they listen to it, the more acceptable that it seems. Truly, how many Bitches & Hoes does one have to hear before it affects their psyche and influence their behavior; particularly the way that they view and carry themselves? In essence, they like Nicki Minaj, take on that limited caricature of femininity, the oversexed, available, unintelligent, easily manipulated, inferior, hypersexual Bottom Bitch.

Thus, young girls emulate video vixens and strippers who are treated like they represent the epitome of beauty, and all that is desired from a woman is that she be Easy, Available, Obedient, Curvaceous, and Sexy; even if that means that she has to be surgically enhanced. Even if it means that she uses unsafe means to gain a more-and-more curvaceous figure. She must live up to this new ideal, because life has begun to imitate fiction; where even those outside of the realm of celebrity and hip hop have begun to expect that women embrace and emulate these false representations of femininity . So, Bitch, Ho, and Trick become an integral part of their vocabularies. Even more troublesome is that this American-bred misogynistic hip hop culture is projected around the world and helps to perpetuate stereotypes about both African American men and African American women. Also, even more unfortunate, is that this imported music and culture has negatively influenced nations in other parts of the African Diaspora, where these negative behaviors, beliefs, and practices are emulated. 

It is this current condition of hip hop that leads many to have a sense of nostalgia for its hey day, where it was referred to as the “CNN of the streets”, and helps to explain the continued praise of Lauryn Hill’s groundbreaking album, the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill recorded back in 1998. Obviously, there is an overwhelming desire for hip hop to once again produce this type of music, as well as produce more positive images of womanhood. The only remaining question is whether this can be done, or has the musical genre and culture already been completely hijacked and corrupted beyond repair; particularly by those who have financially benefitted the most by the destruction of the image of Black womanhood.
 



Cherise “Reese” Charleswell is an entrepreneur, poet, writer, self-and-internationaly published author of Real Talk TIPS: Laugh-Out-Loud Pointers & Suggestions For The Morally Challenged, Socially Inept, & The People Who Love Them. She is also the creator, producer, and host of the Wombanist Views radio program. She is also currently serving as the Editorial Intern for the American Public Health Association and as the California State Representative for the National Black Graduate Student Association.

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