The Female Weezy: Nicki Minaj's Feminist "Rant"
Facebook and twitter newsfeeds can be overwhelming inundations of information, and like many members of my generation, I’ve trained myself to ignore or breeze through irrelevant status updates, uninteresting articles and most YouTube videos that are over two minutes long. Last week, however, one such video was blowing up all over my feeds. Seeing as it pertained to two of my favorite subjects, sexism and Nicki Minaj, I paid attention:
Try not to get lost in Nicki’s doe-eyes and think about what she’s saying in the context of her celebrity persona. I think she makes her most poignant point at the very end of the video: “When you’re a girl…you have to be dope at what you do, but you have to be super sweet, and you have to be sexy and you have to be this and you have to be this…I’m a human beeeeeeeee-ing.” Ok yeah, she does a goofy voice at this part, but she is Nicki Minaj. Would you expect even her analysis of the gender roles in the celebrity industry to be toned down? Regardless of whether or not you think her stage persona is over the top, she is not wrong.
Nicki touches on a point which feminists and equal rights activists have been talking about for years: we’re all just human beings. As a black woman, Nicki has had to maneuver her way around a variety of societal prejudices to become a public figure with a diverse fan base (gay and straight, black and white, men and women) and a reputation as a bad ass. She is an incredibly unique individual with a nuanced and complex background, yet a variety of people can relate to her persona in some way. Why is that? I’d argue it has to do with her ability to embrace her humanity, even when it means pointing out her limitations.
Minaj has been both praised and critquied for her embodiment of the stereotypical black male persona alongside her overtly sexual feminine persona. Nicki closes “Super Bass” with the proclamation “I am the female Weezy!” The line stands out, and I wonder what Nicki wants to tell me and the rest of her “Barbs.” I want to scold her, “Nicki, you’re not Lil’ Wayne. We all love Young Money, but you’re a sick rapper in your own right, you don’t need to cling to your ties with Weezy so that people know you’re legit.”
But I could be taking Nicki too literally. Maybe she equates herself to Lil’ Wayne only to draw attention to their similarities, in style, background, etc. Which brings us back to the point above, the one about our mutual humanity. With so many different -isms out there: feminism, sexism, racism, elitism, classism, etc., it’s easy to get lost in the divisions among groups. Are Minaj’s challenges as a black woman fundamentally different from mine as a white woman? Can politicians from privileged up-bringings ever empathize with working class America? I’m not pretending to have the answer to these questions, but I think there’s value in illuminating commonalities and thinking about what it means to be a human beeeeeeeee-ing, as well as how it limits us. Once again, I thank Nicki Minaj for asking the questions that can make a pink-wigged head hurt.
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