“Unladylike Divas”: Language, Gender,and Female Gangsta Rappers Jason D. HaugePresentation by Patrick McClellan & Cj Lee
• Considered a male dominated genre. – Heavy uses of derogatory discourse for women, whereas men are put in a position of power. – “bitches and hoes, etc. vs. pimps and hustlers, etc” – Emergence of female rappers in 80s and 90s, promoted black feminist empowerment but do they retain femininity?
Gender Identities• 3 examples - Mia X, Lil’ Kim, and the Lady of Rage.• alternative femininities that are counterhegemonic in American society & gangsta culture.
• Typical ways for women to speak, consider volume, pitch and appropriate topics. – Rap defies this. Taboo subjects. Profanity. – untraditional feminine discourses
Gangsta Narratives• Tell stories, normally true? Or not.• The imagery of gangsta rap includes the selling and using of illegal drugs; 5 firearms and their use on other people; various sorts of crime (murder, armed robbery, pimping, etc.)• Mia X and Lil’ Kim are no exception. Openly refer to themselves as gangsta rappers.• The performances of these narratives help to construct coherency in the life stories of these female gangsta rappers
• What is normal for a woman? Society driven.• Un-ladylike, unlady-like, and/or surprisingly ladylike. Different.• Mia X “Unladylike Diva.”• Lady of Rage calls herself ‘lady’, but doesn’t conform to hegemonic trends.• Demonstrated in lyrics.
Mixed signals• In “I’ll Take Ya Man’97,” Mia X refers to herself as “the better bitch, the clever bitch.” This implies that Mia X and the addressee are “bitches.” However, crucially, Mia X asserts that she is better and more clever than the addressee, ranking herself relatively higher on a continuum of bitch-ness.• It’s good to be a bitch?• Male word to refer to women in Gangsta rap. Used ironically?
• “the flouting of hegemonic norms highlights those norms, and can create new ones”• Being truly ladylike is impossible in gangsta rap because of its nature.• “Researchers of women entering other traditionally masculine domains, such as police work and the US Marine Corps…common assumption that these women are, or fear by these women that they might be perceived as, lesbians”
Conclusion• Women are successfully competing in a market that has traditionally been dominated by men.• “That these rappers choose to be, and can be, so audacious and skilful is indicative of their verbal and, in the many diverse communities where this verbal art is valued, social power.”
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