Yesterday, I came across a blog post in which someone “as a father” wrote that he was disappointed in Nicki Minaj because, by showing the cheeks of her buttocks on the cover of her new single (Do they even have “covers” for “singles” nowadays?) she is a bad role model for little girls like his own.
Nicki Minaj? A role model? Guy, have you been sleeping under a rock? Forget the buttocks, have you heard the lyrics?
Big dope dealer money, he was getting some coins
Was a shooter with the law, but he live in a palace
Bought me Alexander McQueen, he was keeping me stylish
– from “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj
Now, I don’t want to act like I’m a humorless old lady and pretend that I don’t know that this is art, fiction, creative writing and is not meant to encourage young people to become criminals any more than a Jim Thompson novel, and I take it in a similar vein as adult entertainment. Her foul-mouthed persona is nothing new. Unlike some other current musical stars, she was never on a children’s show. She’s more like a classic case of someone who worked hard for years to become an “overnight sensation.” Meanwhile, one of her most innocuous songs, “Starships”, has a repeating line, “We’re higher than a motherfucker.”
Jump in my hooptie hooptie hoop
I own that
And I ain’t paying my rent this month
I owe that
But fuck who you want, and fuck who you like
That’s our life, there’s no end in sight
– from “Starships” by Nicki Minaj
I confess, if I was still in my club hopping days when this song came out, I would have really enjoyed dancing to this. Another one of her more popular songs had the following line:
He just gotta give me that look, when he give me that look
Then the panties comin’ off, off, uh
– from “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj
(Just spoke to my mother on the phone. “Oh, Nicki Minaj, I like her. She has some dirty lyrics though.”)
I mean, come on folks, we’re talking about someone who’s known for signing her fans’ tits.
Nicki told The Sun: “I think boobs are very empowering – and signing them is even more empowering. I’ve been doing it for years.”
She then added: “Wherever I go, I sign boobs!”
On the subject of being a role model, she said to Ellen DeGeneres, “I’m not their parents.” She also said that she writes for an adult audience. Where did this notion that every actor, singer and rapper has to be a role model? Did anyone worry that Mick Jagger was not a good role model for young people back in his heyday? Or Frank Sinatra for that matter?
So, why do I care? In her new song, “Anaconda,” we hear a female voice, it doesn’t sound like Minaj, but she’s trained as an actor and is known for doing different characters so I can’t be sure. This catty voice with a valley girl accent says, “Oh my God, look at her butt.” I know that tone and I’ve heard those words. I’m also aware that while women are often telling me that my ass is too big, heterosexual men seem to think it’s fine. However, the apparent approval of heterosexual men has never stopped women from being catty to me about my “big butt.”
We talk so much these days about having a positive body image, so why all the body shaming being tossed at Minaj? A few months ago, when I saw an article about Taryn Brumfitt and her desire to make a documentary that changes the way women feel about their bodies, I thought to myself, “That’s nice, but will it work?” We can say all we want that girls should have a positive body image, but what will actually accomplish that? As a woman with a big butt that has been told many times how I should feel ashamed of it, I think Minaj’s song could do more good than all the lectures. Yes, it’s irreverent, and that’s part of the point. Maybe we all need a song that celebrates the body part the media tells us we’re supposed to be ashamed of, whichever one that might be for us.
Large busted women have discussed the stereotypes and insults thrust on them. The ass is considered such a demeaning part of the body, women with “good” asses are not even allowed to discuss it, even though I’ve had strangers in bars think the size and shape of my ass alone is an invitation to give it hard slap. When I was young, this happened so often I never even really gave it much thought. It was just something you accepted as the price of going out.
So, fathers, the thing you really need to worry about is whether or not your daughters will grow up to hate their bodies, a much more common problem than being a sexy rap star.
(I’ll just add a sour note here that Minaj does men no favors with the “Anaconda” reference.)