The Hypersexualization of Black Women and Feminism in Hip-Hop. From The Jezebel Trope To Nicki Minaj

Term Paper, 2018

19 Pages, Grade: 1,5


Table of Content

I. Introduction

II. Main Part
i. Hip Hop As Lyrical Resistance
ii. From Tropes to Hypersexualization
iii. Hip-Hop feminism
iv. Nicki Minaj
(i) Соте-Up and Importance
(ii) Anaconda - Achievement and Critique
(iii) Perception and Critique of White Western Media

III. Conclusion

IV. Bibliography

V. Erklärung

I. Introduction

In the seminar about "Envisioning the Black Freedom Movement in African American Literature", considering the very core of resistance was a recurrent topic. The idea of Black Women being fungible for White feminists, yet having non-black communities profit off of the efforts made by Black Women and Queers in particular clearly depicts the "second-class" positions Black people are assigned to by White Western society. Having analyzed the fabrics of Black Freedom Movements as an academic focal point, it is indisputable that gender has played a prominent role in the establishment of racial American Identity. Starting off by integrating flight plans and whereabouts for meetings in creole gospel songs during slavery in America, this form of lyrical resistance reached a point of becoming an urbanized genre of music. Merging sonically advanced melodies and beats with verbally asserted subject matters on police brutality, racial and socioeconomic constructs and lack of self-reflection strongly resonated with maltreated Black people in the US in the late 1970׳S. The industrialization of the Hip-Hop Genre led to an exposure of this specific part of the Black Culture to the White mass consumers, inherently leading to the myth of "Ghetto's being the platform for drug selling and abuse" promoted via white media to be validated as well as implemented into the hyper masculine stature of male rappers, who dominated the HipHop Industry. However, as hyper masculinity was propagated in music videos to include the representation of the (partially) nude female body in music videos by having video vixens dance to the male gaze, the tropes set up by white people were also attached to many other artists and participants of the Hip-Hop culture. While there have been many iconic female rappers in the industry that turned mogul, one of them stands out in the context of this introduction to the trope-based interpretation of white criticism towards female rappers: Nicki Minaj, best selling and perhaps the most influential female rapper. Especially after the release of her record breaking music video "Anaconda", the criticism vocalized clearly followed a racialized perception of the female Black body.

This term paper aims to shed light onto the concealed persistence of a specific trope Black women are assigned to in the Hip-Hop industry, which has shifted to being marketed to lager white audiences. Firstly, an account of the importance of lyrical resistance, the Hip-Hop genre constitutes within the lines of the Black Power Movement, will be given. Tackling the topics of tropes next, the Jezebel trope to be exact, the hypersexualisation of Black women will be contextualized within the frames of Hip-Hop feminism. This concept will then be applied to a specific case - the rise of Nicki Minaj and her highly criticized Anaconda music video. Hence, this paper at hand will unveil that the critique Nicki Minaj is met with and vocally resists to is an after-effect of the Jezebel tropes' entrenchment in White American patriarchal society

II. Main Part


According to Patricia H. Collins, a "core racial triangle [...] became foundational to the new American nation-state" (33). The formation process of the American Identity was tightly knit to the racial formation process. Without Blackness, whiteness would not have to be constantly given the paramount legitimacy. The triangle mentioned above consists of "White settlers, indigenous peoples, and enslaved Africans" (Collins, 33). By creating these labels under a hierarchical structure, Whites were enabled to "remove undesirable races from what is seen as privileged home space" by practicing "xenophobia, genocide, or so-called ethnic cleansing" (Collins, 32). Being represented as the most pure race and rightful owners of the land, White settlers ensured their supremacy in economics, law and society. "The mechanisms of internal racism certainly changed over time - from slavery, to Jim Crow, to deeply entrenched racial discrimination in housing, education, and employment - but the need for the exploitation of Black labor persisted" (Collins, 34).

In the late 1970׳S, this new labor that would soon be exploited rose to greater exposure in the United States, starting in Detroit, this Black cultural movement has now spread globally and hence created a multiracial and global fanbase. While "emceeing", breakdancing, spraying graffiti as well as being a DJ are part of the culture, this chapter focuses on the rappers using lyrics to resist anti­black social structures. Problems in economic sustainability within the Black community rose due to white American propaganda creating an illusion of ghettos being the focal point of drug-based transactions and consumption. The ongoing war on drugs perpetuated by the u.s. regime resulted in many black people having difficulties in finding a job or applying for welfare, as the prevalent racial prejudices were not in the process of destabilization.

Two specific personas of male rappers were thus created. One being the gangsta rapper, who embedded his real or imagined participation in selling drugs and making easier money. The other being the political rap discussing subject matters ranging from anti-drug use and sexism to racism and poverty. The lyrical freedom rappers were met with allowed them to take on a beat and assert their opinions either in an anti-regime manner or in way that sheds light to the reality of the life spent in ghettos. These lyrics resonated with many of those who felt unheard and discriminated against and thus gave them a sense of power to engage in a resistance movement for freedom. This resembles the first of the 10 point program of the Black Panther Party:


We believe that Black and oppressed people will not be free until we are able to determine our destinies in our own communities ourselves, by fully controlling all the institutions which exist in our communities. "

Demanding the power to control ones own or even the community's destiny is motivated by the Black Power movement as the never ending cycle of resistance and racial oppression inevitably causes both mental problems as well as physical or at least vocal resistance.

Resistance is the key concept that is omnipresent in the Black Power Movement. The attitude, that the community is in charge and in the position to assert their need and demand for equality is what made the Hip-Hop genre spread world wide. The lyrics served a purpose of actual importance, namely shedding lights onto the discrimination against Black communities in hopes of destabilizing the oppressive structures. White large media however took the global exposure of Hip-Hop culture to be beneficial both economically as well as socially by using the narrative to ensure that racist imagery is tied to the lyrical content provided by Black rappers.


Ever since the start of the transatlantic slave trade, White Supremacy was embedded into the legal systems and thus prevailed even in hierarchical and social structures of American - if not global - society. The narrative of Black People and the jeopardy of their individuals lead to a premise and assumption, with which the racialized Identity of America enabled white citizens to profit off of the legal system and their privileges, whereas Black people have been treated as second-class citizens only.

In the mid-nineteenth century until the twentieth century, a false image of Black people was set up, tropes, to be exact. A documentary called "Ethnic Notions" (Marlon Riggs, 1986) clearly depicted the intentions of such set up. The documentary explained the disturbing various tropes perceived and used by white people from slavery until the civil rights movement, fueling anti-black prejudice via stereotypes. The tropes explained are the Tom, the Sambo, the Mammy, the Coon, the Brute, the Pickaninnies and the Minstrels. Creating these images had the white citizens of the United States judging as well as fearing black people. While violence and punishment were factors to ensure white dominance, these images were part of maintaining the dominance and thus led to the facilitation of false accusation (e.g. of rape), incarceration and execution of black people. Even when slavery itself was abolished, punishment and violence towards black people still was prevailing. Concerning the tropes however, as mentioned in the introduction to this term paper, there is one at least that is omnipresent in the Hip Hop industry and of high relevance for the following observation and brief analysis.

The trope aforementioned is the Jezebel trope. It basically describes the hypersexualized Black woman. This trope exists in direct contrast to the desexualized Mammy trope. One of these two tropes were mostly assigned to black women, according to which is more controllable for the whites. Concerning moral issues, especially during the era of Victorian obsessions, in which a lady in order to be considered as such had to be white and monogamist, the Jezebel trope specifically targets promiscuity. Black women during slavery were used - apart trom their manual labor in agriculture or as a servant to the slave masters tamily - to give birth to another "cohort of workers" under their slave master as well as to fulfill or quench sexual fantasies and needs against their own will.

While it is white people, who have set up and made profit off of the Jezebel trope, it is clear that the repercussions and actual physical as well as emotional impact of being pushed into that trope are horritic to Black Women. Freely enjoying the act of sex was rather exclusive to white people, especially as it comes rather natural to white cis-hetero men.


Excerpt out of 19 pages


The Hypersexualization of Black Women and Feminism in Hip-Hop. From The Jezebel Trope To Nicki Minaj
University of Bremen  (Fachbereich 10 - English-Speaking Cultures)
Key Topics in Literature: "Envisioning Black Freedom Movements in African American Literature"
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Nicki Minaj, English, Culture, Pop Culture, Blackness, Black Freedom Movement, Hypersexualisation, HipHop, Rap, Feminism, Sexism
Quote paper
Saleh Efetürk (Author), 2018, The Hypersexualization of Black Women and Feminism in Hip-Hop. From The Jezebel Trope To Nicki Minaj, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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