Durham, Aisha, Brittney C. Cooper, and Susana M. Morris. “The Stage Hip-Hop Feminism Built: A New Directions Essay.” Signs.38.3 (2013): 721-37. JSTOR. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
Durham, Cooper and Morris provide a brilliant insight into the multi-facet existence of hip-hop feminism in The Stage Hip-Hop Feminism Built: A New Directions Essay by mapping the current terrain of hip-hop feminist studies through identifying challenges and tensions, reviewing current literature/engaging the issues and highlighting emerging areas for further development in the field. They define hip-hop feminism as “a generationally specific articulation of feminist consciousness, epistemology, and politics rooted in the pioneering work of multiple generations of black feminists based in the United States” (722). Specifically, focusing in on questions/issues that sprout from the aesthetic/political prerogatives of hip-hop culture. (722) Another angle these authors provide is describing ‘percussive feminism’ as hip-hop feminism. Percussive feminism is “the striking of one body with or against another with some degree of force, so as to give a shock; impact; a stroke, blow, knock” (724) as well as the creativity that is manifested from placing modes/objects of inquiry together that aren’t traditionally cohesive. (724) The most obvious example at hand…hip-hop and feminism.
The challenges and tensions identified, boil down to the ways “black and brown bodies have been historically configured as excessive”(725). It describes the excess and pathology that has severely limited the black and brown sexualities, specifically when identifying the representations of women of color as either “ladies and queens or as bitches and whores” (725). Perpetuating these labels, is the over-exploitation, hyper-sexualization, policing of sexuality and bodies of young women of color. One umbrella example given: the instructional ‘make it rain dance’…which projects for these young people how to perform sexuality and imagine desire; not solely for the young women but for the men as well. It activates controlling images and power-laden stereotypes such as the label of ‘video girl’, whom invests in appearance and is doused in this mindset: in order to gain fame-one must shape into the relevancy of a gold digger (729). A following example of exploitation, to women of color in the music industry, discusses the push for the field of the heterosexual African American performer. Placing the spotlight on Nicki Manaj, when she announced to the public of her bi-sexuality, the accumulated back-lash received led to her jumping into a different persona and marketing ‘no homo’ and ‘strictly dickly’. (725) What hip-hop feminism also aims to create is “more of an elastic way of talking about gender relations”, provide an awareness lens that shows the continual reliance on normative notions and discuss the “compulsory heterosexuality within the music and the culture at large.” (728)
Found within the section In Search Of New Horizons, is the emergence of areas that catalyze progressive development within hip-hop feminism. “Hip-hop happens through the body when they dance, walk down the street, or recite favorite rhymes. ” (727) It takes place in schools, homes, community centers and performance facilites-these girls use self-critiquing “keeping it real” language from the hip-hop culture, to challenge misogyny, engage in social activism and issues such as gender stereotypes, body image and love. (728) With the help from renowned female poets/MC’s, these women assist in amplifying teen girls stories. They assist with imagining (while creating)…how hip-hop can engender community. So as, by providing these girls with skills to revolutionize how we see, and talk about black women in hip-hop.
Lastly, is the introduction of the term of ‘Afrofuturism’ which is the “African-American culture’s appropriation of technology and imagery, which can be understood as epistemology. Both examine the current problems faced by blacks (and people of color more generally) and critiques interpretations of the past and the future. “(733) Examples from the music industry feature: Janelle Monae, Outkast and Erykah Badu. These artists are connected by their commitment to portraying the histories of people of color as well as analyzing the dominant systems of power. They offer futurist solutions on transgressive ethos and provide the vibrancy of the larger framework of Afrofuturism, while simultaneously reframing hip-hop feminism. (733)
-“Hip-hop feminism’s evolving digital presence is not only evidence of the movement’s relevance and strength but also reflects its continued interest in democratizing the creation and dissemination of knowledge as well as promoting open dialogues about issues important to communities of color. It is hip-hop feminism that is uniquely able to move women from the sidelines of the stages we built, and from the cheering section of audiences that our public pedagogies have made space for, to claim an unapologetic place at the center as knowledge makers and culture creators.” (734)
-the blogosphere has become the digital public forum for feminist consciousness-raising, and social media platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook have morphed into virtual command centers to mobilize coalitions for grassroots activism. Take the We Are the 44% coalition, for instance. (731)
-…..hip-hop feminism’s continued investment in being in but not of the academy has made social media attractive because it provides an opportunity to practice public pedagogy among nonacademic audiences….. (731)