This One is for the Ladies: Female MCs and Hip Hop’s Double Standard

By Ciana Alessi

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When you’re in any minority (or any social group deemed inferior), you must unfortunately work twice as hard as those in the majority to get the same amount of praise. As women, this is a phenomenon with which we are all too familiar, let alone as women of color, disabled women, LGBTQIA+ women, gender non-conforming people, etc. This hurdle is then multiplied when you identify with one of these social groups while working in a field historically, and contemporarily, dominated by heterosexual men. And let’s be honest, how many fields haven’t been historically, and contemporarily, dominated by heterosexual men?

This is the case with rappers who happen to identify as women, or as we must call them for the sake of brevity, female rappers, in the very much male-dominated hip hop game. There has historically been glaring oversight of female rappers in hip hop. This oversight is, frankly, a complete disservice to the hip hop community, because, realistically, many male rappers wouldn’t and couldn’t stand a chance against their female counterparts; yet, these women rarely, if ever, receive the awareness and praise that their subpar, SoundCloud contemporaries get simply for opening their mouths and daring to (kind of) rhyme. Along with this blatant disregard for female MCs, there exists an obvious double standard between female and male rappers, manifested most apparently in audience reception of the rapper’s vocalization of their sexuality.

Too many people are still far too uncomfortable when a woman, in any context, talks openly and realistically about sex. For example, Cupcakke, a Chicago rapper who has now received rightful praise for her sex positivity, had two videos — “Deepthroat” and “Duck Duck Goose” — wrongfully taken down by YouTube for “nudity and sexual content” last year. Considering the above videos alongside male rappers who persistently talk about “getting some head” (while the music videos that accompany these songs are extraordinarily sexual, oftentimes for no reason) this double standard is glaringly obvious and clearly symptomatic of a puritanical censorship of female sexuality. By no means did Cupcakke’s videos contain the same amount of nudity or sexual content as, say, 50 Cent’s Disco Inferno; yet because she is retaining control of her own sexual expression, her work is deemed vastly inappropriate. By refusing to exist within the parameters of the male gaze, many female rappers, like Cupcakke, Lil’ Kim, and Princess Nokia, to name a few, receive excessive criticism solely because of the reclamation of their subjectivity.

All this being said, 2019 is the year of female rappers. And 2019 is not the year of one female rapper, because this weird competition between female MCs is a product of patriarchy, it is instead the year of any woman who wants to spit bars, make dope music videos, and control their self expression. The time is now, because every year since hip hop’s conception, there has been a substantial amount of female MCs that are entirely ignored, shoved to the sidelines never to be heard again. Thankfully, in the time of finally holding men accountable for their fucking actions, we are allowed the chance to bask in the glory of womanhood in a variety of sectors, and hip hop is arguably one of the most exciting.

For far too long hip hop has been yet another boys club, one which has too often been homophobic, misogynistic, or otherwise ignorant as a reflection of these problems in society as a whole. But female MCs remind us of the good that still exists in hip hop, and has frankly always existed: its ability to give any person a platform, a chance to get out of a bad situation and into a better one, and an escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Artists like Noname, Princess Nokia, Little Simz, Rico Nasty, Rapsody, Asian Doll, Saweetie, Lizzo, Dreezy, Tierra Whack, and so many others, showcase the rich tapestry of badass MCs embracing their power and absolutely killing their competition, who just happen to be women.