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Two Minute Brother: Contestation through Gender, Race and Sexuality

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/09/1993
<mark>Journal</mark>Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research
Issue number3
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)299-322
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article shows how a group of American Black female musicians are rapping themselves into existence against the powerless positions (both economic and cultural) that are offered to them. They talk back talk Black (bell hooks, [sic.] 1984) to colonialism. Firstly, they ridicule and undermine the strutting bragging form of masculinity that wants to keep women firmly located as sexual objects. This article shows how this form of Black masculinity is itself a product of Black male cultural resistance to the racist myths that were used to legitimate slavery. Nevertheless, it operates to control and contain women and the expression of their sexuality. Secondly, the female rappers defiantly speak to the traditional feminine discourses of maternalism, and its accompanying duties and obligations. Unlike many Black women who are able to use motherhood and the family to resist racism, these female rappers locate themselves firmly against tradition. They use rap music as the form in which to voice these challenges, investing the explicit sexual language of rap with new meanings. They use a demand discourse to celebrate female sexuality and autonomy, articulating what is a usually perniciously silenced sexuality. Drawing upon a long tradition in Black female music (see Carby, 1986) the female rappers turn themselves from sexual objects into sexual subjects. In so doing they challenge the basis of the social order which seeks to contain them.