Fifth Harmony & Nicki Minaj Censored Because Of Female Empowerment

fifth-harmony-boss

Ok you guys, there are a lot of awful things happening in the world today. Namely bombings, beheadings, and war just to name a few. So when we hear a story about women in music causing controversy in the media for something that shouldn’t be, it makes us a little mad. And for people who think feminism is dead or irrelevant need to take note of what’s going on here.

Feminism isn’t about fighting for the right to vote anymore (although in countries like Saudi Arabia it is!) in the US and most of the west it is about fighting against the unhealthy, stereotypical and damaging messages forced upon women. It is about taking ownership of our bodies and not allowing institutions or industries to dictate to us what is right and wrong.

Both Nicki Minaj and girl group Fifth Harmony just released new music videos. Fifth Harmony released their music video for ‘Bo$$’ (don’t forget those dollar signs y’all) and Nicki unleashed her ‘Anaconda’ onto the interwebs. They both have two things in common: they have been causing controversy and also contain messages of female empowerment. But that’s where the similarities lie.

The two videos could not be more opposite from each other.

Fifth Harmony display messages such as “think like a boss”, “dreams don’t work unless you do”, and “find yourself and be that.” Their video is all about empowering each other as girls, as a sisterhood to show girls you don’t need to impress anyone (especially not a man) to feel powerful. It’s awesome to see young women promoting messages of empowerment among their peers and female fans, and is certainly well needed.

fifth-harmony-boss

They sing about demanding respect and proudly showing off their confidence and “pledge allegiance to my independent girls in here” which MTV News says is reminiscent of Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bills Bills Bills’ and ‘Independent Women’.

“The whole point of this song is for girls who are our age to turn it on and feel confident and empowered because at this age being insecure is such a normal, common thing. So I think when you turn that song on, feel sexy and feel good about yourself, so the whole point is about being yourself and liking it,” said group member Camila Cabello.

But producer and songwriter Ricky Reed recently tweeted this little doozy out to the world:

 


That hashtag started trending on twitter where fans all around the world expressed their anger at radio station who choose to “promote songs about rape”, and play tracks like ‘Blurred Lines’ but don’t want to promote female empowerment. There is no official confirmation about whether the song has been banned, but let’s take a look at the lyrics supposedly causing a stir for a second:

“Boss… Michelle Obama
Purse so heavy gettin’ Oprah dollars (repeat 4 times)”

“That’s me, I’m confident
Don’t want yo compliments
Use common sense
I’m on my Michelle Obama”

Not sure about you out there but we haven’t yet heard this track on the radio, so maybe Ricky has a point. If this song is too feminist or girly for radio stations, we really have hit an all-time low. These are the types of songs and music videos that need to be played more, not ‘Wrecking Ball’ and the aforementioned ‘Blurred Lines’ for pete’s sake! Sorry it’s not sexy enough for you, radio industry, but it seems you have a bit of double standard we need to call you out on.

On the opposite end of the female empowerment spectrum we have Nicki Minaj. Her music video for ‘Anaconda’ prompted plenty of websites and media outlets to play out the predictable line of “she’s hurting the portrayal of women”, “it’s too racy”, “how dare she” etc. And while yes, it is very racy and in-your-face with all the blatant booty shots, there’s a deeper message of empowerment of a different kind.

“Is the whole thing impressive though? With everything Minaj seems to touch these days, it’s likely the “Anaconda” video will be another lightning rod for whether or not Minaj herself is a leader of female empowerment via twerking or just another sexually exploitive visual that degrades women,” writes Mike Ayers at the Wall Street Journal. His article touts the video as being “predictably racy” but we find his response also predictable.

Nicki is challenging the standards and calling out not only the media, but the public on how we automatically categorize and discriminate women’s bodies if they don’t fit into the “ideal”. This was made very clear by the award-winning rapper after she released the album cover for ‘Anaconda’. Immediately people threw a collective fit that she dared to bare her derriere, forgetting that it happens all the time without a fuss. She posted this pic on her Instagram with “unacceptable” written across her picture, and “acceptable” written across the Sports Illustrated cover featuring Chrissy Teigen.

nicki-minaj-chrissy-teigen-anaconda

It certainly made us think twice. While Nicki’s brand of zany, racy and bizarre imagery may not be everyone’s cup of tea, she has a damn good point: why are certain types of nude females seen as beautiful and others gross?

What we can conclude is that female empowerment is not always an acceptable concept and seems to irk people. If it doesn’t fit into a certain institutionalized mold, we have a problem with it. Everyone has their own ideas of what they feel is right and wrong, and what type of content they don’t choose to indulge in. That’s great, but it shouldn’t mean we have to dismiss other forms of powerful messages just because we may not agree with them personally.

We love anyone who is willing to challenge the status quo, because they are bound to receive a lot of heat. We live in an age where women’s bodies are a controversial topic not just in entertainment, but also politics. In 2013 over 700 bills were proposed in the United States to regulate a woman’s body in one way or another. Yet none were proposed to do the same for men, even though, hello, they too have bodies.

Until we get women’s bodies off the table (figuratively speaking) in all sectors, we are going to see a continual battle over what is acceptable and what is not. Until we unlearn the ways of thinking we have been taught as a society, since the end of World War II when the rise of consumerism, advertising and marketing saturated our lives, we will be hard pressed to see any message other than filtered through the media.

Being controversial and different shouldn’t always be seen as a bad thing. We need to closely examine why we find something offensive and see whether there is more than meets the eye.

And in case you need a pep-talk, here’s the ‘Bo$$’ music video. Try not to be offended too much by the way they are empowering girls to look up to positive role models like Oprah and Michelle Obama.

3 Comments

  1. Could not agree more with this article on both songs and I’m a guy.

  2. Pingback: Nicki Minaj Has Some Boss Things To Say About Double Standards

  3. Pingback: Fifth Harmony Taking A Stand For Feminism In New 'Worth It' Music Video

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