Appealing to the Masses: The Objectification of Women in the Media

April 3, 2022

“Selling Hot Pussy” examines the hyper-sexualization of Black Women’s bodies, but additionally the habit of society to silence Black women’s voices. Black women are forced to adopt this “wild woman” image in order to satisfy the masses. Bell Hooks argues that this racism is often normalized in our society and that Black women are objectified only to gain the attention of men. Hooks makes the argument that black women are “offered as evidence to support racist notions that black people were more akin to animals than other humans” (Hooks 62). She additionally illuminates how Black women in the media are often “objectified in a manner similar to that of Black female slaves…whose naked bodies were displayed for whites at social functions had no presence” (Hooks 62). Modern society has the habit of dehumanizing Black women and animalizing them to the point of destruction.


Durham, Cooper, and Morris come to somewhat of a solution in “Hip Hop Feminism.” They argue that hip hop feminism opened doors for intersectional approaches to Black third wave feminism. They explore the empowerment of women through music and illuminate how hip hop feminism seeks to challenge the silencing of “queer and freakish bodies of color” (Durham, Cooper, Morris 725). The hip hop movement—in combination with the internet—has grown strong over the years and promotes “open dialogues about issues important to communities of color” (Durham, Cooper, Morris 733). Hip hop gives women a voice to share their stories and experiences with the world. These concepts are transferred over in Caisullo’s “Making her invisible: Cultural Representations of Lesbianism and the Lesbian Body in the 1990s.”  Caisullo argues that Lesbians are either characterized as butch or femme just as Hook argues that black women are either characterized as mammy or slut. These characterizations exemplify the tendencies of American culture to categorize marginalized groups even further than they already are.


As a whole, society habitually attempts to persecute women on basis of race and gender. Women in 21st century culture are represented as objects meant to satiate the needs of men until they take control of their own narrative and empower themselves through mediums like music. Personally, I connected with the references to modern pop culture icons like Nicki Minaj. I have grown up seeing Nicki as a so-called girl boss. These readings allow me to recall struggles of high-profile women like her during their time in the spotlight. Caisullo and Hook reveal how women like Minaj are often hyper-sexualized by the media due to their tendency to put their body on display. It reminds me of when Nicki Minaj released her music video for Anaconda in which she was wearing little to no clothing for the duration. For her, it was empowering because she was taking control of her body and displaying her confidence, but the reaction the media gave was polarizing. Many men in the media saw her as an object in which they could sexualize with free reign. It took her attempt at empowerment and turned it into a male-dominated conservation surrounding her butt—a common practice that Hooks relates in “Selling Hot Pussy.”  In the media, women constantly have to fight off the attempts to discredit their work due to them using their bodies to send a message. This goes to show how men consistently refuse to hear women when they reasonably ask for justice. However, when women record their stories through mediums like music, they are able to channel creativity into representing their experiences and are able to control their own narrative. Overall, these readings encapsulate the power that comes with women sharing their stories especially in the face of discrimination from men in the media.


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