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you a stone freak in yo own skin: Missy Elliott's and Lil' Kim's Constructions of Black Womanhood
Unformatted Document Text:  Black Womanhood 12 All these studies are crucial to understanding readings and potential effects of popular culture, but they (with the exception of Bobo) stop just short of addressing another important effect of popular culture texts: the growing importance of visual images. Visual images become seminal to understanding African-American women’s reactions to and production of popular culture texts, especially in music video. Rose (1994) addresses the "catch-22" situation black women encounter when positioning their bodies in the public realm: For some [black women rappers] sexual freedom could be considered dangerously close to self-inflicted exploitation…. In much of the video work by female rappers, black women's bodies are centered, possessed by women, and are explicitly sexual…. These black female rap videos share a visual and lyrical universe with male rappers' work in which the black women are always creatures of male sexual possession (p. 168) She explains that black women who participate in male music videos are frequently addressed as "hotties," "video ho's" or "skeezers," all variations on Collins' controlling image the jezebel. However, as many of the aforementioned scholars have illustrated, music video provide an arena where African-American female music artists can find empowerment and new ways in which to present themselves. It is in this realm of visual image in which I wish to discuss Missy Elliott and Lil' Kim. Both women have managed to attract an abundance of attention for their music and their images. I will examine their visual images as they appear in photos from four popular African-American magazines (Essence, Ebony, VIBE and Honey) along with two of their breakthrough music videos, Elliott’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” and Jones’ “Crush on You.” Method

Authors: Brooks, TaKeshia.
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Black Womanhood 12
All these studies are crucial to understanding readings and potential effects of
popular culture, but they (with the exception of Bobo) stop just short of addressing
another important effect of popular culture texts: the growing importance of visual
images. Visual images become seminal to understanding African-American women’s
reactions to and production of popular culture texts, especially in music video. Rose
(1994) addresses the "catch-22" situation black women encounter when positioning their
bodies in the public realm:
For some [black women rappers] sexual freedom could be considered
dangerously close to self-inflicted exploitation…. In much of the video
work by female rappers, black women's bodies are centered, possessed by
women, and are explicitly sexual…. These black female rap videos share a
visual and lyrical universe with male rappers' work in which the black
women are always creatures of male sexual possession (p. 168)

She explains that black women who participate in male music videos are frequently
addressed as "hotties," "video ho's" or "skeezers," all variations on Collins' controlling
image the jezebel. However, as many of the aforementioned scholars have illustrated,
music video provide an arena where African-American female music artists can find
empowerment and new ways in which to present themselves. It is in this realm of visual
image in which I wish to discuss Missy Elliott and Lil' Kim. Both women have managed
to attract an abundance of attention for their music and their images. I will examine their
visual images as they appear in photos from four popular African-American magazines
(Essence, Ebony, VIBE and Honey) along with two of their breakthrough music videos,
Elliott’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” and Jones’ “Crush on You.”
Method


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