Hypersexualization hypnotization

19.6 million views in 24 hours.

With these numbers, Nicki Minaj’s music video “Anaconda” shattered Vevo’s record for amount of clicks within a day of release.

The video centres on Minaj and her fellow dancers’ twerking buttocks as an assertion of female sexuality.

But the assertion of female sexuality is by no means the issue at hand. In Minaj’s case, it’s the method of assertion that’s harmful. It hypersexualizes the black female form.

It’s important to understand that Minaj’s music video, among countless others, is a product of a culture that has historically hypersexualized minority women. The video’s popularity further perpetuates harmful stereotypes.

The hypersexualization of black women specifically finds its roots in colonialism and slavery. At the time, white slave owners manufactured a stereotype of the black woman as a creature with an insatiable sexual appetite.

This stereotype was created in order to justify their sexual relations with black female slaves.

I say sexual relations, but the reality is that the majority of sexual acts were a result of coercion and rape.

Depictions of black women from the time are primarily nudes that emphasize their breasts and backside. This set a precedent where black women were heavily associated with their bodies.

The image is still very much alive today — the black female form continues to be known for “that booty”.

From this, it should be understood that despite the record-breaking popularity of “Anaconda”, it’s by no means unique, but rather comes from a long-standing history of media that reinforces this caricature of the black woman as overly sexual.

This sexualization isn’t exclusive to a certain race of women; however, it would be inaccurate to suggest that certain minority groups, such as black and Latina women, don’t experience it in a stronger manner.

The “bootylicious” black woman has an equivalent in the “spicy” Latina, as seen by Jennifer Lopez’s music video “Booty”.

Although the video does feature Iggy Azalea, a white woman, it still reinforces this association between Latina identity and the body.

Within top-grossing films, it was found that Latinos account for less than five per cent of speaking roles, while Latinas were more likely than females from any other race to be shown partially or fully naked on screen.

These numbers emphasize the frequency in media of Latina women being represented as sex objects.

These stereotypes are harmful as they limit the identities of minority women as bodily. Women who possess these typical physical characteristics are automatically sexualized.

As well, there are a whole other set of implications for women who don’t fit within the mould.

“My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun” and “Fuck those skinny bitches” are both examples in “Anaconda” where women who don’t fit this sexualized stereotype are shamed for their natural divergence.

There’s a lot of awareness of the unrealistic expectations that the media sets for men and women, and strides have been made to break these down.

However, there are a whole set of expectations that are directed towards black women that have gone unaddressed.

With 19.6 million views in 24 hours, it’s clear there’s a demand for this sort of media.

But as a part of those millions of viewers, we need to recognize that we’re being complicit in the perpetuation of these harmful stereotypes.

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