Over the past few years, hip-hop has taken a significant turn with its representation of women. As more female artists rise from the glass ceilings and willingly become symbols of female empowerment and whether or not they voluntarily admit to feminism, we are seeing a shift in music and a breakthrough in hip-hop culture where progressive ideas have made it to the mainstream.
With the exceptions of artists like Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott, hip-hop history has mostly been made up of men fighting for recognition and a voice and representing the streets they grew up on. These days we see a fight that extends further beyond the breach; a fight for equal pay between the sexes (women make $0.77 to a man’s $1.00), female sexuality and power, representation and respect. Whereas back in the day, women were not being heard and mostly just being objectified in music videos. And although this kind of representation is still alive and well in hip-hop, women like Nicki Minaj are taking back their sexual power and prowess, greeting the male gaze, then subverting it, all while schooling the world on just how powerful women really are and inspiring fellow ladies to embrace this. Beyonce is just as much of a symbol. With a more subtle approach, her feminism is straightforward and fearlessly political, focusing on supporting and inspiring the next generation of girls.
It’s been a pressing issue for most celebrities to define what a Feminist is exactly, if they recognize themselves as one and what that requires of them. As always, many people in the business tread lightly on these political terms due to the stigma associated with the idea. And although some of us are still hesitant to embrace the “F word” (even though we all have access to Google search engines) we have made a platform to have the discussion – and compared to just five years ago – I’d say that’s a huge step for hip-hop culture.