Nicki Minaj, one of the popular African-American Artists in Pop-culture today is usually seen wearing bold outfits and behaving in a manner that stands outside of the gender norms. She owns her sexuality inspite of what the society thinks about her. But is she a feminist? Let’s analyze the song ‘Anaconda’ for this purpose which was released in August 2014.
The song talks about Minaj’s relationships with men – How they brought her gifts, her sexual life, and the sexual preferences of the men she was intimate with. “Anaconda” has a sexually provocative music video, explicit lyrics which uses various euphemisms for sexual activities. The song portrays a positive sexual image about a woman’s ability to own her own sexuality and body. It emphasizes on female body image from a female perspective. Nicki Minaj’s song can be viewed as a statement for self-esteem, right over one’s body and choice of sexuality.
It celebrates the generalization of “bigfat ass” made towards African Women. It also emphasizes on the white patriarchal construction of black women as sexual objects. Black women have been considered inferior throughout history. In this song, there are lyrics which emphasize on the dominance of Nicki in her relationships. For example- she expresses her sexual desires by using phrases like “let him hit it” rather than he hits it. This phrase emphasizes on the fact that Minaj has given him the permission to be hit her rather than being submissive and be hit. In other instance, she says that “fuck ‘em in my automobile”, here again, she is taking a dominant stand by saying that she has sex with him rather than him fucking her. This represents her choice of being sexually independent and assertive about her tastes.
In the latter section of the video, Drake is featured where Nicki Minaj is seen giving a lap dance to him. As many might believe that it is being done for the pleasure of Drake but instead it could be seen as empowering for Minaj herself. He is shown sitting on the chair not touching her as she has not given him the permission to do so. She continuously moves around his body but he is not allowed to touch her. All he does is experiences her body. Throughout the dance, she is the one who is expressing her sexual desire. It could be seen as an act of seduction rather than an act of submission. It is a music video which emphasizes her butt but also goes against the ideal standard of western beauty- thin, tall and white woman.
The video may not be empowering for everyone. It had created a lot of uproar during its release as people perceived it as a video on sex and male and female sexual organs. It is empowering for women who are comfortable about their sexual choices. During adolescence, we as girls were always taught to be submissive and polite. We were never promoted to talk about our sexual preferences instead we were made to feel shameful about it. This is the revolutionary aspect of Nick Minaj’s work- She is not shy about her sexuality neither is she polite about it. She is explicit about sex. For women or people who are not comfortable with their sexual preferences, this video is vulgar and demeaning.
Most music videos use female bodies only for the satisfaction of the male gaze, but Minaj creates a female-dominated and centric world (in the video) where she controlled her sexuality as well as enjoyed it. Throughout the video, Nicki Minaj is shown in various eroticised moments with other women which are a rebellious depiction for an industry which consists of very few queer women of color. In the kitchen sequence, Nicki Minaj disrupts the ideas about domesticity and uses food for her own pleasure. She is seen crushing a banana (a phallic symbol) in her hands. This metaphor disrupts the white patriarchy which undermines women of color and treats them as sexual objects. Here, Minaj is shown pleasing herself without the need of a man.Nicki Minaj tries to deal with her multi-faceted identity as a queer black woman.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This article is written by Manjulika Chellappan, our intern.