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Women and Rap Culture: What’s holding us back?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Smith chapter.

Rap culture, as we know it, is not exactly the best forum for empowering women. There are countless rap videos featuring the artist with his bevy of half naked women shaking their booties, often for little to no money at all. Not to mention, every other word in many of these songs seems to be about “gettin’ bitches.” Ty Dolla $ign’s popular song, “Or Nah,” epitomizes rap’s portrayal of women as mere objects who are only good for “taking dick” and cooking a hearty breakfast of eggs and grits. 2 Chainz takes this a step further in his song, “Birthday Song.” He implies that a woman’s assets define her when he says, “she got a big booty so I call her big booty.” One more example of rap’s demeaning portrayal of women is found in T.I.’s new song, “No Mediocre,” where he raps about his high standards which include his refusal to go near a woman who doesn’t wax ALL of her hairs “down there.” Unfortunately, prominent female rapper Iggy Azalea is also featured in this song, which further demonstrates female artists’ willingness to accept the demeaning behavior of the boys, yes boys, who have taken over rap.

Just think, how many female rappers do you know? Probably two, right? Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea. Of course there are other females in the industry (me, for instance!), but very few have made it to the top and therefore, the phrase “female rapper” seems to be a rare one.  The rap industry is a place where women have been left behind, or at least have been slow to enter, which comes as no surprise based on the way rap objectifies females. What’s worse than that, in my eyes, is that the media has used Iggy Azalea and Nicki Minaj’s success to create yet another female rivalry. Just Google “Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea,” and numerous links come up bringing you to articles discussing alleged “disses” made by Nicki that were directed toward Iggy and vice versa. However, in interviews with Nicki, she has only positive words for Iggy and advocates for all female writers/rappers. Iggy also has not shown any direct animosity toward Nicki, so what is all the fuss about?

Of course, whenever rappers are caught directing “disses” at one of their peers, the media is all over it, but the Nicki-Iggy scenario is a bit different. Neither rapper has made explicit statements about each other, but society says that since they are the two leading females in rap, they must be working against each other. Why can’t we look at their accomplishments as females and emphasize the strong female figures they stand for rather than painting a picture of the two as rivals. They may be in competition with each other, but in the end, they are two women who are helping to empower other women and girls. Their status in music should be reinforcing the idea that, as a female, you can achieve what they have achieved in an occupation that is tough for anyone, especially women, to enter and survive in. So, as members of the Her Campus community, let’s promote the ideals of strong, independent women, rather than letting ourselves feed into the concept that we women should be working against each other in order to reach the top.