Hip hop feminism

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Hip hop feminism is a critique of hip hop culture which argues homophobia and heterosexism that exists in society are perpetuated in hip hop and demands greater LGBT community representation.

The homophobia and heterosexism that exists in society is perpetuated in hip hop, especially rap music, making lesbian and bisexual women of color invisible. These masculine ideologies ignore queer influences on hip hop because men who exhibit characteristics and traits outside the boundaries of heteronormative masculinity are depicted as less male.[1] The sexualities of these women of color are exploited in hip hop videos because same gender sexuality is depicted in these videos to fit the male gaze. These videos are intended for a male heterosexual audience implying that lesbian and bisexual women of color do not own their sexuality in the hip hop community. The exploitation of lesbian sexuality in rap videos is one way hip hop uses lesbian and bisexual women of color to appeal to heteronormative concepts of sexuality further devaluing real representations and contributions to hip hop from the LGBT community.[2]

In most cases the only time you see homosexuality in hip-hop is when you see it in a way that provokes lust in heterosexual male viewers. A lot of the sexism that takes place in hip-hop music has to do with the lack of feminist artist. There are several hip-hop artists that refuse to break the norms of society. If there were more artists that advocated for the LGBT community, then there would be more music that reflects the ideas of homosexuality, but not only for male viewers. There have been small cases where hip-hop artist break the barrier of "normality" and defy masculinity. For example, hip-hop artist, Frank Ocean, admits to being bisexual, which surprised many fans. Although this does not help the lack of feminism in hip-hop, it is one step to breaking the norms of sexuality. It allows viewers to see a difference in hip- hop. According to an article by Sheng Kuan Chung, hip hop's music videos reach viewers all across the world.[3] People in varying ages are influenced by these hip-hop artists in many ways. Because of this, their ideas on sexuality and feminism are altered. There have not been many feminist artists that advocate for women or sexuality however there are some. According to VH1 a few of these feminist hip-hop artist are Lauryn Hill with her song "Doo Wop, (That Thing)", Queen Latifah with her song "U.N.I.T.Y", and Salt-N-Pepa with their song "None of Your Business".[4] Not all these artist address homosexuality in their music, however they do advocate for the empowerment of women. Their songs inspire young girls all across the world. If there were more artists like them, then the problem with sexuality and feminism in hip-hop music could be fixed. Several female artists today have surfaced with trying to fix the problem in hip-hop.

Abuse of Hip-hop Feminism[edit]

Hip-hop feminism gives space for minoritized identities to creatively express their own voices through music, and lyrics, but there are some artist who abuse and play along with queerness to subvert the narrative. A prime example of this abuse is Nicki Minaj who for years has remained silent and avoided conversations around her own sexuality. In the beginning of Minaj’s career, she was less explicit in the ways that she talked about queer sexuality. Throughout many of her songs she alludes to many instances of being with women sexually. Savannah Shange’s “A King Named Nicki: Strategic Queerness and the Black Femmecce”  highlights these points perfectly to bring attention to the ways in how Nicki Minaj has used queerness to move further in her career. Furthermore,Shange’s piece where they examine “the distance between provocation and transgression, and how queer practice and commodification interact in the discursive flows of black popular culture” (Shange 30). Shange is invested in looking how Nicki Minaj “queers” hip-hop as a Black woman who embodies the role of “femmeece”. In Minaj’s videos she embodies the black femme gendered women through her clothing, lyrics, and boss attitude. Minaj queers hip-hop as a genre, but in ways that are not outright with her explicitly sharing that she identifies as queer. Performances of gender and queerness are shown in hip-hop despite explicitness of expressing one’s identity.


  1. ^ Hill, Marc (2009). "Scared Straight: Hip-Hop, Outing, and the Pedagogy of Queerness" (PDF). Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies. doi:10.1080/10714410802629235. 
  2. ^ Pough, Gwendolyn; Richardsom, Elaine; Durham, Aisha; Raimisr, Rachel (2007). Home Girls Make Some Noise: Hip Hop Feminism Anthology. Mira Loma, California: Parker Publishing, LLC. p. 23. ISBN 978-1600430107. 
  3. ^ Chung. "Media/Visual Literacy Art Education: Sexism in Hip-Hop Music Videos". Art Education. 60. 
  4. ^ "15 Feminist Rap Lyrics That Will Empower, Educate + Inspire You". VH1 News. Retrieved 2016-10-06.