There was a time, not long ago when I—shrouded in groupthink and male privilege—would have reacted to the promo cover art for Nicki Minaj’s latest single, “Anaconda,” in pretty much the same vein as AllHipHop.com’s founder and CEO, Chuck Creekmur.
His response to Minaj—who poses for her cover photo with legs agape, backside to the front and looking like a video-vixened goddess of all that is right in the world—was a hypocritical “Nicki, you don’t have to do this (even though I low-key like it)” letter.
Creekmur, the venerable hip-hop journalism juggernaut, employed the ho-hum he-man tactic too often used in attempts to police the respectability of women—specifically black women—and how they choose to showcase their bodies and assert their sexuality.
He tried, sadly, to be daddy and dzaddy at the same time, writing this:
So, when I peeped the artwork for your latest single, I wasn’t even shocked, I was just disappointed. The song: ‘Anaconda.’ The art: your booty in a thong. As a man, I can appreciate the virtues of your perfect posterior. The dad guy is not a happy camper, particularly now that his lil’ girl is transitioning into a young lady. Now, the most popular, current Black female rapper starts overtly pushing her hyper-sexualized image again? Just my luck.
Jesus, please be a scantily clad veil of misogynoir.
Ebony’s Jamilah Lemieux deftly addressed the issue in her own letter, titled “Nicki Minaj's Butt Is Not Your Daughter’s Problem,” earlier this week, summing up the eye roll-that-can’t-be-helped after Creekmur’s 1,100-word finger wag about Minaj’s posterior while carrying a history of ignoring far more serious celebrity grievances. Lemieux, as they say in the church, made it plain.
Men—and, if we’re honest, a good number of women—have a problematic tendency to simultaneously admire and admonish overt celebration of the black female body. But in this context, agency doesn’t go both ways. Women own their bodies, end of story. We, as men, don’t.
And Creekmur’s attempt to say otherwise is as bad as the treatment Rihanna endured after wearing her stellar Swarvorski-crystaled gown to the CFDA Awards earlier this year. The lazy, rash slut-shaming was deafening—with both men and women appointing themselves as her judges just because her party dress was slightly sheer.
But I’m guessing they missed this stanza from Maya Angelou’s legendary “Still I Rise”:
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
It doesn’t matter, though. You know why? Because this isn’t about the women—or the bodies—being slandered, but the haughty privilege of those perpetuating the slander. It’s about those who would have us believe that their attempts at moralizing are really pleas to make the world a better, less sexed-up, more upright place. This is them—they say—doing their part in cleaning up the hypersexualized black female image.
This is them playing Captain Save-a-Hoe.
Except, of course, when we’re in the mood for some ass shaking. Then it’s completely OK to turn the other cheek and salivate over the sexual. Then it’s OK to be daddy.
So here’s a thought for all you Malcolm XXX’s out there: If you’re going to police a woman and how she chooses to display her body, don’t. Because every time a grown woman chooses to show more of herself than conservative America is comfortable with, that doesn’t mean it’s time to launch some thinly disguised propaganda campaign.
Contra Creekmur, Minaj doesn’t have to sell sex. She showed up at the 2012 Grammys dressed like a milkmaid, and “Roman’s Revenge” sold nearly 400,000 copies in a week.
Rihanna doesn’t need to sell sex. She’s got more Instagram followers than some countries have people. Sometimes nudity is just beautiful and self-affirming.
When we jump on the bandwagon with the masses and choose on a whim when we will shame black women’s bodies as trashy—instead of accepting them as beautiful—then we as black men do nothing but further the divide between ourselves and black women.
That’s all you did here, Chuck. Get a grip.
Aaron Randle is a Howard-bred writer living in Kansas City, Mo. Follow him on Twitter.
Aaron Randle is a Howard-bred writer living in Kansas City, Mo.