Lil’ Kim, Beyonce same brand of Feminism . . . No?
When Beyonce proclaimed with a platoon of women in their panties and undergarments that girls were running the world, she sent the feminist blogosphere into a frenzy. Many blasted the illustration of the video, believing it to be contradictory to the message of the song.
“Why does her sexuality (in terms of public expression) conflict with feminism? Is feminism not about empowering our whole selves?” writes Arielle Loren.
Loren and myself follow one another on twitter. I came across her article via Google and I loved its stance on sexuality’s place in feminism.
“I find it interesting that traditional feminists conveniently forget that black women have been hip-dipping and gyrating for centuries. Why is it now ‘hypersexual’ in the context of mainstream media? Because white people are watching? I’m more concerned about finding ways to incorporate our culture and sex-positive discussions into the feminist movement. Frankly, ‘they’ are the last priority on my list of concerns,” writes Loren.
We began to tweet back and forth after I read the article. I asked if she thought Lil’ Kim could be considered a feminist in the same light as Beyonce. Her response to my recollection was “No.”
Again, to my recollection I asked, “Why?” The gist of her response was that Lil’ Kim isn’t as mainstream as Beyonce.
We went back and forth about this notion for a while. I couldn’t digest the fact that Lil Kim’s music needed to be digestible to Whites and educated Blacks for her feminist views to be as formidable as Beyonce’s. I was trying to understand why Beyonce need not be consumable for ‘them’, but Lil Kim needs to be more mainstream for her brand of feminism to hold weight. Could this be because Beyonce has always been visually appeasing to the mainstream as opposed to Lil Kim who bursted onto the scene with a short crop, darker skin and a broad nose?
It sounds like the Blacker the skin the “wronger” the feminism. Lil’ Kim isn’t mainstream to White America not only because of the industry she works in, or the way to flaunts her sexuality, but also because she is (well, was) a dark-skinned Black woman. Even if she were a pop singer, it would be no guarantee that she would be a household name. How many dark-skinned singers have been household names in White America in the last five years? And to me, this notion that Loren presented in our discussion is in the same vein of the Eurocentric ideals that have been used to oppress people in our own community with these aesthetics.
This resembles the paper-bag or blue vein standards for African-American yet a feminist version. The message is if the illustration of a free woman isn’t digestible for the privileged, then it’s not formidable. If that’s what the feminist movement for the educated is, then they aren’t fighting for freedom, but rather equality. Equality is the ability to marginalize a minority based off of your privilege and freedom is the fight to eradicate all privilege.
To read more about the author of this article go to www.svelvetnoose.com
Literary Mixtape, I’m a Nobody–Too for free download 8/2/2011