Degree Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

African American Studies

Advisor(s)

Caroline Jackson Smith

Committee Member(s)

Pamela Brooks
Renee Romano

Keywords

African American studies, Black women, Hip-hop, Pornography, Politics of respectability, Representation, Sexuality, Feminist theory, Hip-hop feminism, Black feminism

Abstract

Through a methodological framework consisting of historical analysis, pop culture analysis, and hip-hop feminist theory, this paper will explore the complex intersections of race, gender, and agency in contemporary hip-hop and adult entertainment.

The first section, "Look Back at Me: Jezebel, the Black Lady and Constructions of Black Female Sexuality Identity", will consist of a historical overview of images of Black women constructed since enslavement into the late 20th century and highlight the links between these stereotypes and the sexualized images that exist of Black female identity in contemporary hip-hop. The politics of respectability will also be discussed and how the concept aided in the construction of the dominant Black female sexual scripts.

The second section, "Mic Check: The Rise of Women in Hip-hop", will examine the evolution of women in hip-hop from the mid-1980's to the present, analyzing how the rise in popularity of hip-hop music has affected the portrayal of Black women's bodies in the sexual marketplace.

The third section, "Hip-Hop Pornography" will speak to the influence of visual culture in rap music and how it has created intersections between hip-hop and the adult entertainment industry. It will examine ways Black women who participate in these industries view their images and how they exercise and conceptualize agency while dealing with the hyper-masculinity inherent in their fields.

The fourth and final section of my paper will present my conclusions and plans for further research. In sum, Black women are challenging stereotypes through the mediums of hip-hop and adult entertainment that have been subjugating their sexuality for decades. To a certain extent, this freedom is liberating because they are embracing a pro-sex framework and breaking deeply engrained silences that have been present surrounding Black female sexuality. Conversely, there are ways that these 'erotic revolutionaries', to borrow a term from Shayne Lee, re-entrench some of the ideals that have made the policing of Black female sexuality by other Black women exist in the first place.

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