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Why Nicki Minaj is a Feminist Icon

Written by Yelita Ali

When cited with feminism, we are often pointed in two directions.

The misconception of the man hater or more recently the poster girls for white feminism. Taylor Swift, Emma Watson, Tina Fey, etc. Rarely are we presented with WOC, trans women, queer women, or even feminists who are actually feminists. (My anaconda doesn’t want any unless your feminism intersectional hun). It is very rare that we are presented with feminist icons who break the mold of cishet white women who in a face aren’t really feminist at all unless the issues they face directly affect them. These women are seldom concerned with the various intersections that mean female oppression is different for different women. These women cannot see past the issues that affect them rendering their so-called “efforts” quite useless. Cue Nicki. Now Nicki’s feminism is constantly under intense scrutiny and criticisms.

The media refuses to see Nicki as a multifaceted woman who can express sexuality all while being an intelligent, talented, and successful woman. Because Nicki has rather claimed her sexuality and capitalized on it, which I feel is not only important but necessary to teach girls that they CAN be sexual beings. She is denounced as a “slut” or a “whore” and depicted as a woman who’s only talents are her “assets.” I don’t know about you but I know damn well you can be sexual and more. Nicki even through her music where she refuses to be held back and expresses things that women are often taught to ignore. In a society that devalues and ignores the experiences and desires of women, she takes a stand in reclaiming her sexuality. Critics of Nicki’s talent and attitude are rooted in so much more than simple slut shaming and there is a racial aspect to consider.

While “stars” like Miley Cyrus are praised for outlandish sexual behavior and practices of black culture, Nicki is seen as “bougie”. Critics of Nicki’s talent are also called to play while most people pit her successes on her sexuality they ignore her achievements as an artist. Nicki is unrecognized for the way she has paved in rap, a male dominated industry.

Not only is Nicki thriving in this industry, she created a platform for other female rappers to showcase their talents. Nicki’s contributions to rap are phenomenal make her one of the greatest artists in the world. Nicki has managed to represent black girls in a previously unchartered territory. Nicki is also an advocate for women’s rights and often speaks boldly on the importance of inspiring young women to reach their goals and make lives for themselves, helping women become the makers of their own destiny. Nicki speaks on the importance of education for young black girls and the importance of showing them that the societal standard of beauty that is whitewashed and Eurocentric, and doesn’t have to apply to them.

Nicki shows young girls that their sexuality is nothing to fear, that they can be as sexy as they want to, all the while making careers and decisions for themselves. The ideology Nicki presents is one I can get on board with. Nicki shows girls there is no set idea that they have to be. More recently, Nicki has called out the racism within the industry itself by calling out the VMA’s on their snubbing of huge pop culture success Anaconda. Something Nicki came under fire for when it led to a twitter exchange with Taylor Swift.

Even though Nicki’s points were valid she was again put aside as an “angry black woman.” Media was more concerned with silencing Nicki than addressing the issues in the industry. Valid issues that are yet to be discussed by MTV. But like I said Nicki is one badass woman who will NOT be silenced. Following comments made by Miley Cyrus regarding the Taylor Swift incident Nicki gave Miley a piece of her mind in this iconic speech. In this moment I was in awe, not because it was a “drag” (this feeds into the angry black woman stereotype once again), but because I saw Nicki continue to stand up for herself and her art. I saw Nicki showing that she has a voice that will not be silenced. Nicki is a feminist icon because she uses her voice.


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