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How Female Hip-Hop Artists Play a Crucial Role in the Feminist Movement

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

“Out in public, make a scene / I don’t cook, I don’t clean / but let me tell you how I got this ring” (“WAP” Cardi B, 0:53).

When the 2020 song “WAP” was released, it received a flood of backlash from critics for being too vulgar. The artists featured on the song, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, argued that the song was made to empower women and that men have been making vulgar music about sex and genitals for years without facing any backlash. 

The current wave of feminism includes many different types of activism, including art, writing, and rap. Artists such as Beyoncé, Lizzo, and Megan Thee Stallion consistently advocate for the feminist cause by releasing empowering music and sharing their feminist political opinions with their fans. These artists also promote an important part of feminism: the acknowledgment of the difference between self-sexualization and objectification. Women are constantly sexualized and objectified in the media, yet are often condemned when they sexualize themselves. Many female artists are working to change that by recognizing that the objectification of women has become so ingrained in society that it has become part of societal structure. Systemic sexism has led to women being held to impossible standards in many aspects of their lives, including their self-expression, professional, and personal lives. The normalization of the rhetoric of female rappers and the acceptance of self-sexualization is a positive step forward for the feminist movement in decreasing societal sexism.

In the music industry, especially in hip-hop and rap, powerful female artists are constantly pitted against each other as well as shamed for writing too openly about sex. The question “Nicki Minaj or Cardi B?” is a common one, as they both have similar audiences and release music with similar features. However, asking questions like this contradicts the feminist movement because Nicki Minaj and Cardi B can both be successful female artists, and they aren’t competing for anything, especially not a man. In rapper Megan Thee Stallion’s song “Savage Remix” (feat. Beyoncé), Beyoncé sings “I’m a bad bitch, she’s a savage, no comparison here,” emphasizing the fact that the artists support each other and that there is no need to compare them. They are each talented and successful in their own right.

By openly rapping about sex and reclaiming traditionally offensive words like “pussy,” “slut,” and “whore,” female artists in the rap industry are using their platforms and rhetoric to change the notion that women need to be pure and innocent, or that they can’t enjoy or speak openly about sex. 

Female rappers are normalizing the idea that women should be allowed to choose what to wear and when to show off their bodies. Through singing about sex and performing in revealing clothing, female rappers like Megan Thee Stallion are proving that there is no shame in openly expressing themselves and their sexuality. Women shouldn’t have to hide their bodies if they are comfortable showing them off. 

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Lily Krivopal

U Mass Amherst '24

Lily is a senior management and Spanish double major who is passionate about community service. You can always find her in the pool or outside running, hiking, or reading in a hammock.