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Images of Black Femininity

GET YOUR FREAK ON … IMAGES OF BLACK FEMININITY

By Ja`Donna Rankins

April 2, 2013 Africana Studies 20 Spring 2013 Dr. T Hasan Johnson

Images of Black Femininity

Introduction

The sections of my April text review include “Get Your Freak On … Images of Black Femininity”, “Why We Can’t Wait: HIV/AIDS”. “Building Democracy From Below” and “Booty Call: Black Masculinity”. Get your Freak on basically talks about how the term “freak” came about and how rappers and singers use it in their music. Let’s take Missy Elliot for example, her hit song “Get Your Freak On” doesn’t talk about people getting weird and crazy, it means to show the hypersexual side of you. The term freak has changed drastically over the years. We used to think it meant someone who is abnormal, hideous and crazy. Now, it means something sexual. As I talked about in Get Your freak On, the same applies to “Booty Call: Black Masculinity”. They used the term “booty” and totally changed its meaning. What we know now is that it means your buttocks but back then booty meant a valuable prize, an award that cannot be given away.1 The term is usually used by men when they want sex. They would say to a girl “gimme that booty” or “what that booty like” meaning they either want sex or want to see what you can do with your butt. Why We Can’t Wait talks about how South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world.2 Black men who make booty calls without condoms are likely to spread the infection and African Americans mask the fact that they do have the infection and usually don’t tell anyone because they are either shy or have too much pride. This section also talks about sexual autonomy.

1

Patricia Hill Collins, Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (New York: Routledge, 2005), 150. 2 Ptricia Hill Collins, 280.

Images of Black Femininity

Get Your Freak On... Images of Black Femininity

In the year 2001, Missy Elliot, Rick James, Whodini, and Nelly Furtado had hit songs pertaining the word “freak”. When we would think of a freak, we think of someone who is abnormal, hideous and scary. In the terms of those artists, freak meant something totally different and in a sense it was a good thing. The term freak referred to individuals who fell outside the boundaries of normality, from hairy women to giants and midgets.3 When Missy Elliot sang about “Get Your Freak On”, she gave the term a historical meaning.4 The term freak became part of a sexual term instead of something that was abnormal. Other terms such as “nigger”, “faggot”, an “”bitch”, all became JUST something to say and JUST words.5 Those terms filled the media, movies, TV and music aiming at African American consumers. Black working class women were often referred to as a “bitch” because they were often loud, aggressive, rude and pushy.6 The term was meant to put women in their place by using the word “bitch” by itself. Just as black men re-stored the term “nigger” and used it differently than others have before, same thing happened with the term bitch. Students at the University of Cincinnati defined “bitch” and “Bitch” as two different terms. The word bitch with the lower case “b” referred to all females but Bitch with a capital “B” referred to only African American women. “Black Bitches” were defined as super tough, super strong women who are often celebrated.7 Black women were often ridiculed by comedians as they would dress up like women and act ignorant, loud and aggressive. Comedians like Martin Lawrence dressed as a loud, unattractive woman named Sheneneh and Flip Wilson dressing in drag.8 Being a “bad bitch” has become some sort of trend in Black popular culture. Females bodies were displayed in media particularly music videos focused mainly on one body part, the butt. Music videos like “Baby got Back” and “Doing da Butt” displayed African American women’s behind.9

3

Patricia Hill Collins, Black...
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