Music

In Defence Of Nicki Minaj’s Right To Flaunt Her Booty

In breaking news, women can do whatever the hell they want, without your approval.

Nicki Minaj, she of pop-rap smash success and aesthetic queen, sent the internet worrywarts into a frenzy when she posted her latest album cover on Instagram two weeks ago.

Those voices you can hear across the societal plains are for once not those of slack-jawed young men (“lol hott, yeh bitch” etc. etc.) or even those in praise of the singer; it is those gatekeepers of the Internets, slut shamers and concerned parents. I can’t begin to take apart the logic of an internet commenter; those people who, seemingly, spend their lives searching for things to inflame their bile ducts and send them shrieking to their keyboard in pearl-clutching agony.

The most notable of these “won’t somebody please think of the children?!”-coloured bouts of hysterics came from Chuck Creekmur, owner of AllHipHop.com and Worried Father, who wrote an open letter lambasting Minaj for daring to display her booty. Besides being embarrassingly prudish for someone working in the hip-hop industry, Creekmur wrings his hands about what “message” Minaj thinks she is getting to the kids out there, and makes numerous backhanded compliments while ultimately telling Minaj to sit down, be quiet and do what I, a man and a father, think you should do:

“For a moment there, I felt like I had briefly peered into the deepest recesses of Nicki Minaj’s true inner self, a being that cares how this ratchet s**t affects my kid… As a man, I can appreciate the virtues of your perfect posterior. The dad guy is not a happy camper, particularly now that his lil’ girl is transitioning into a young lady…Is this the path you want to lead impressionable kids down?”

GROAN. I’m not a parent, nor do I expect to be one, so I cannot rightly understand the intricacies in raising a child. Let’s get that clause out of the way before my opinion is deemed inadmissible in the court of Arseholes on the Internet.

I do, however, know that Nicki Minaj isn’t out to destroy your kids. There is literally no chance that Nicki Minaj is sitting beside a roaring fire, clutching an ivory cane and mapping out her devious plans to sexualise young girls; in no universe is she bellowing an evil, blood-curdling cackle and going back to her dungeon, whisky in hand, to continue whipping the hell-dogs that power her Evil Underground Volcano Sexualisation Lair.

Pictured: not Nicki Minaj.

Minaj took to her Instagram to compare her image to those considered more “socially acceptable”, though of the same ilk. Often the only difference between Minaj’s album cover and, say, the cover of a magazine heavily stocked in stores in front of delicate children’s eyes, is that Minaj is black. One does not have to consider sexism and racism as two separate entities as, like now, they so often become enmeshed together.

The demonisation of black female bodies has been an unfortunately strong vein in popular culture for some time; from the old-timey “mammy” cartoons of the oh-so-subtle 1940s, to the never-ending dichotomy of women’s bodies being sharply separated only by the colour of their skin: a white women in a bikini can be flirty, cute, a vision of summer, while a black women in the same outfit is only ever “trashy” or “ghetto”. It’s a sickening consequence of the patriarchy’s stranglehold on class, gender and race — and unfortunately, women can be guilty of this shaming behaviour too.

Society is still so afraid of female sexuality that the only way to deal with it is to consider it an unnecessary evil; lack of understanding and an entrenched sexism create fear and un-knowing when it comes to a woman that has her own — gasp! — sexual agency. Hence the onus on female students to cover up at school, lest they distract their male peers, and countless, boundless other times in which a woman was blamed and shamed for her own natural sexual and/or physical self.

You can bet the farm that, had there been a burly, tattooed male rapper standing behind Minaj, flashing a load of jewels, perhaps mid-yell of some horrible slur, much less to-do would have been made. The problem lies not in Nicki Minaj’s (albeit gorgeous) G-stringed butt, but in her eyes; the look upon her face tells us that she doesn’t give two fucks what we think of her; that her body is her own, beautiful thing and she will do what she bloody well likes with it.

Minaj has taken a stand against sexism in her industry before and her refusal to make gooey doe-eyes and be controlled by the media’s male gaze should indeed make her “heroic” enough for Creekmur’s precious daughter. But I suppose we shall have to wait for that next open letter.

Lisa Dib is a producer and freelance writer and publicist. She runs Puggs in Space, a weekly comedy room, and gets her kicks writing about feminism and listening to Phil Collins. She tweets at @LisaDib1.

Feature image via Nicki Minaj/Instagram.