Directors x New Wave Feminists

Does sexualisation contradict new feminism? Why are we even asking!

Tune in to any music TV channel today, there’s a 90% chance that the first thing you’ll see is a woman’s behind. Lyrics aside, it’s likely that some sort of sexual imagery will be on show. It’s almost like it’s a competition of who can be the most outrageous. And why shouldn’t it be? Women have come so far. Gone are the days when Madonna was slut shamed for ‘sleeping her way to the top’. Women have reclaimed their sexuality as their own.

Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé agree. Their collaboration video, ‘Flawless Remix’, starts with the word ‘feminist’ in bold capitals on the stage. This statement is followed by Beyoncé grinding on stage in a revealing one-piece. A stark contrast to the behaviour of the original feminists who fought tooth and ungroomed-nail for equal rights in the 70s.

Beyoncé’s recent feminist revolution has inspired a generation. Most of that seems to be about fiercely flaunting her sexuality, as seen in ‘Partition’. The most powerful lyrics in the song are in French, and say ‘Men think that feminists hate sex, but it’s a very stimulating and natural activity that women love.’ This is a woman that knows what she likes and isn’t afraid to show it.

Jay Z watches her perform, Beyoncé is in control – she’s not being objectified, she enjoys it, utterly aware of her power. If more of us followed in Beyoncé’s footsteps, less women would get slut shamed, sexual liberation should/would become the new norm.

Women should be able to wear what they want, without any expectation either way, just like men, just like boy bands, just like Prince.

I’m not saying we should all wear a sparkly thong and dance for men – but if we are aware that women can if they want to, and there’s nothing wrong with them enjoying it, then women would be one step closer to equality. The Internet would be one step closer to sucking less. The world would be one step closer to being equal.

After watching the music video for ‘Anaconda’ it certainly seems Nicki Minaj agrees. Boobs, bums and bananas are everywhere, and it’s amazing. Minaj portrays herself as a fierce temptress in charge of her own sexuality in the video. The lyrics in the song suggest Nicki uses sex as a weapon, and that her curves make her powerful.

Nicki appears powerful in almost all of her music videos, and in all of them she flaunts her body. In the video for ‘Looking A**’, the rapper shoots a pair of male eyes that are ogling her body. This puts across a fierce message – she is in control of her body and no one else.

Female sexualisation in music video is empowering because the women who are doing it are strong. Women and girls look up to the likes of Nicki Minaj because they wish to be as strong, sexy and confident as she is. Their success a direct result of this, with Nicki Minaj the only woman on Forbes’ list of highest-paid hip-hop acts and Beyoncé part of the furniture on rich lists they truly are inspirational. Some people argue that these types of music videos are nothing less than objectifying and insulting to women, but in most cases they are just a form of self-expression. Of course when the sexualisation is objective (think Blurred Lines), it becomes exploitation but that’s a whole other conversation. Women should be able to wear what they want, without any expectation either way, just like men, just like boy bands, just like Prince.

To me and many others, feminism is about having the same choices men have, without the expectation or judgement. Female artists can use their sexuality in any way they want. They are in charge of their bodies and no one else – ladies take note! In the words of Queen B, we flawless.

Sharifah Alrabah

Journalist in the making and fully formed feminist. With music, we can change the world. -
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