So when Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry bring black girls on stage, dance with them, acknowledge their figures- it’s offensive and appropriating. But, when Nicki Minaj makes an entire video focusing around black girl’s asses and asserts her power, reduces these women to objects and flaunts her authority it’s YAAASSSSS NICKI SERVE IT. Is that because she’s black? So it’s okay for people of the same race to dance with each other but someone who does not share the same levels of melanin enters the picture, they’re doing something wrong? …idgi
You’re completely ignoring context. In Lily Allen’s Hard out Here video, she literally says, “I don’t shake my ass cause I have a brain” as Black women shake their asses in her video. She is literally degrading the Black women who shake their asses in the media. The song also uses references to Black rappers (i.e. the title of the song referencing the rap song “Hard out Here for a Pimp” and her lyric “bragging ‘bout my cars or talking ‘bout my chains”), suggesting that Black rappers are more sexist than white male musicians (which isn’t true, there’s lots of sexism in all music genres) and also suggest the source of sexism in the music industry is Black people (Black male rappers and twerking Black female dancers).
In contrast, Nicki Minaj is reclaiming a song (Baby Got Back) that was made by a Black male rapper who celebrated (but also objectified) Black female bodies. Throughout her song, Nicki raps like a man would, talking about her sexual conquests with men and the size of their dicks, almost as a way of doing to men what they have done to women (objectifying their dicks as Sir Mix A Lot objectified Black women’s asses and many other men objectify women’s vaginas). She also brags about her sexual prowess and stays in control and aggressive in the video (she goes as far as cutting a banana representing a dick and slapping Drake’s hand away—the video critiques the male gaze). The target of mockery and disparagement in Nicki’s video is men and the male gaze, and the video works to reclaim agency from it.
In what way is Nicki asserting power over her dancers? In her video, she twerks along side her back up dancers and dances with them and interacts with them on the same level. She is just as scantily clad as they are. Lily Allen, however, stays fully covered in her video, does not dance provocatively, and thus contrasts her own pure and respectable femininity with the Black women, using their twerking and scantily clad bodies as an example of “bad” female sexuality and femininity—of women “objectifying themselves.” This is racist because it frames Black female sexuality as lesser than white femininity and antithetical to feminism.
In summary: Nicki’s video is very much a celebration of female Black beauty and sexuality coming from a Black woman. Conversely, Lilly Allen’s is using Black women as props to frame them as a vile or bad form of sexuality or being too sexual to prop up her own feminism.
So you might say, “what about Miley Cyrus? she twerks along side her Black background dancers too!” But here’s the problem: Miley Cyrus continually appropriates Black culture and also uses Black women as props. It does matter that these artists are white because in these cases the point of including the Black women is either to, in Lily Allen’s case, offset Black sexuality/femininity as too sexual or bad in comparison with her white femininity/feminism, or, in the case of Miley Cyrus, to get “street cred” and exotify her own sexuality by appropriating Black culture and using Black people as props to do so. See this analysis of Lily Allen’s Hard Out Here video and this analysis of Miley Cyrus by Black people who know a lot more about this than I do.
I haven’t seen anything about Katy Perry using Black dancers. I’ve just seen criticisms of her appropriating AAVE and other PoC cultures. I’m not sure why you brought her up, but maybe I just haven’t seen the videos in question.
Either way, it’s not like white artists having a diverse cast of back up dancers is a bad thing automatically. Here is an example of a white artist using back up dancers of other races without objectifying them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ilh1ewceco (notice this artist tackles the same issue as Lily Allen—sexism/objectification in the media—without being misogynist and racist toward other women). But the examples of Lily Allen and Miley Cyrus ARE racist and Nicki Minaj’s video isn’t the same as theirs.
The Ladies of World of Warcraft - Alliance
Jaina Proudmoore, Moira Thaurissan, Chronormu (Chromie), Tyrande Whisperwind
A woman from the audience asks: ‘Why were there so few women among the Beat writers?’ and [Gregory] Corso, suddenly utterly serious, leans forward and says: “There were women, they were there, I knew them, their families put them in institutions, they were given electric shock. In the ’50s if you were male you could be a rebel, but if you were female your families had you locked up.
Stephen Scobie, on the Naropa Institute’s 1994 tribute to Allen Ginsberg
Absences of women in history don’t “just happen,” they are made.
So I’ve decided fandom will forever be confused about Natasha’s name. Not, uh, coincidentally, comics writers have been confused about it for even longer. The tricky bit is this: Natalia and Natasha are both forms of the Russian name Наталья. The Natalia/Natasha equivalency doesn’t exist in English, leading to all kinds of tail-chasing confusion re: which is real and which is fake. Natasha is a diminutive form of Natalia the same way Bill is for William. “Natalia” is not more authentic or more Russian, it’s just a bit more formal. And “Natasha Romanoff” is not an alias the way “Nadine Roman” or “Nancy Rushman” are. The Romanoff/Romanova issue is just a question of transliteration. The Russian surname is Рома́нов, which is written as Romanoff or Romanov depending on your history book. Traditionally, Russian ladies take feminine endings to match their grammatical gender— Ivan Belov becomes Yelena Belova, Aleksandr Belinsky becomes Aleksandra Belinskaya. But the feminine endings often get dropped in English translation, e.g. Nastia Liukin, not Nastia Liukina. It’s a matter of preference. If that’s too confusing, don’t worry, until about 1998 the comics had no idea what they were doing either. Natasha’s name has been Natasha since her very first appearance, where she and her partner Boris Turgenev were the butt of the obvious joke. Her last name wasn’t revealed until the early 1970s. Yeah, she went through a whole solo series without getting a last name. Weird, but it took dozens of issues for Hawkeye to get a first name. Romanoff: a name no one knows or knew. At the time, Natasha was being written as an aristocratic jet-setter, a glamorous countess. Since Romanov is the most famous Russian surname, and superhero stuff isn’t codenamed subtlety, I figure Gerry Conway just went with what he knew. And so Natasha Romanoff was her name through the 1970s. Instead of “Miss” or the Danvers-ian “Ms.”, Natasha used “Madame”, contributing to that Old World mystique and invoking feelings of a boudoir. By 1983 someone on staff realized that Romanova might be more technically correct. (Might being operative, here, the best way of translating the feminine endings is still debated.) Anyway, her Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe page listed her as Natasha “Romanoff” Romanova. The next big change would occur when someone, and I’m thinking it was Chris Claremont, realized she was missing a patronym. A full Russian name has three parts: the given (first) name, the patronym, and the family (last) name. For example, Grand Duchess Anastasia, the one who had that Bluth film, would be formally called Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova, or Anastasia “Daughter of Nicholas” Romanoff. Her brother, the Tsarevich Alexei, was Alexei Nikolaevich Romanov, or Alexei “Son of Nicholas” Romanoff. Basically: everyone in Russia has a middle name, and it is their father’s. I think it was Claremont who realized Nat’s was lacking because he is a phonetic accent wizard and an expert on Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin da tovarisch. Also, because the first time I could find a patronym for Natasha was in a 1992 issue of X-men that he wrote. The weird thing about Alianovna is that it would mean her father’s name was Alia or Alian or something else not really common. Maybe that’s why Kurt Busiek, continuity repair man, pretended it was something else in his Heroes Return Iron Man run. Ivanovna, or daughter of Ivan, is a much more common patronym and also meshes with her backstory. But it didn’t stick. Everyone and the guidebook uses Alianovna. What did stick was Natalia. Yeah, this is the first comic I could find that uses Natalia, and you can tell by context that Busiek’s using it to emphasize formality. When talking to Tony, she calls herself Natasha, when declaring her total identity before an epic beatdown, she takes the “my name is Inigo Montoya” route. From the late nineties forward Natalia started popping up with some frequency, usually in formal or impersonal contexts. Yelena speaks of “Natalia Romanova” as the Red Room’s greatest legend, Natasha demands that the he-was-evil-all-along Ivan Petrovich address her without the diminutive. There are exceptions. I figure some writers check wikipedia, see her name listed as “Natalia” and decide they’ve done their homework. Daniel Way has Logan refer to Natalia, his surrogate daughter, completely bizarre for the quasi-familial relationship and for the nickname-happy Wolverine. Brubaker had Bucky refer to her as Natalia, at first— an odd distancing from a previously intimate relationship. Since they’ve gotten back together, though, he uses Natasha, or Nat, or ‘Tasha, or in any case, he’s dropped the formality.Fuck Yeah, Black Widow: The Name Game (via eppypeninc)