In hip-hop, double standard for women persists

YouTube video blogger Bart Baker released a parody of Nicki Minaj’s song “Anaconda,” and the video is littered with lyrics and images that encapsulate the double standard for black women in the music industry. This video exemplifies sexist and racist double standards that have become normalized in pop culture. The parody ironically says that Minaj “ripped off” Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and “turned it to trash,” despite the fact that Minaj’s version twists the objectifying song into one that empowers women and celebrates sexuality.

The video continually refers to Minaj as “plastic” and “fake.” According to the parody, any woman who uses surgery for cosmetic purposes is trashy and pathetic, despite it being a personal choice not fit for public judgment. It also attacks Minaj by using multiple gendered slurs aimed at her sexualized dancing and lyrics. These words are meant to degrade and punish women for enjoying and expressing their sexuality.

This rude and abusive parody of a black female rapper—created by a white man—embodies the sexist and racist attitudes ingrained in the music industry, specifically in hip-hop and rap. The double standard harms black artists, while praising their white colleagues and accepts white female sexuality while criticizing that of black females.

Hip-hop and rap, both of which originated from African roots, developed during the 1960s and 1970s and remains an important part of black culture. Black and non-white artists dominate the hip-hop and rap industry today. Only 4.3 percent of artists who topped the Billboard hip-hop charts since 1996 were white, according to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Despite being far less commercially successful within the genre, white rappers are continuously praised and rewarded over black artists. The Huffington Post notes that white artists such as Eminem and Macklemore consistently win Grammys and other music awards over black artists. Macklemore’s win for Best Rap Album over the fan-favorite Kendrick Lamar at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards was a source of outrage for hip-hop and rap fans.

Some may argue that the white nominees produced better albums than the black nominees, yet black artists are overwhelmingly more popular than white artists in the hip-hop and rap genre. Are certain audiences’ voices not being heard? Or is it the result of a racist music industry?

Women in the rap industry are divided. Nicki Minaj is a talented lyricist and a feminist icon, but she is criticized and labeled with gender slurs because of her confidence, femininity and blackness.

Meanwhile, white female rappers such as Iggy Azalea become fan favorites before their albums even drop. Forbes went so far as to praise Azalea for being a white, blonde artist in a black-dominated field, and hailed her for taking Minaj’s place in the genre.

The comparisons between Minaj and Azalea continue with their appearances. Minaj is criticized in Baker’s parody video for having a “fake” butt and dedicating a song and video to it, while Azalea’s new song “Booty” celebrates hers with mass appeal and acceptance.

It is difficult to break through the racial divide within the music industry. The combination of sexism and racism is accepted and normalized by predominantly white audiences, while the problems black (and especially female) artists face are ignored and nearly invisible. We cannot continue to support the abusive criticism of artists such as Nicki Minaj and the anti-feminist and racist ideals that poison the industry.