A few years back I started making Andy Warhol homages to Lil Kim. Not because I liked Lil Kim or her music. Not because she was some epitome of manufactured beauty. But because of what she’d become, because of what Christopher Wallace, Notorious B.I.G., created her to be, the one thing she had to sell and sold greatly.
Lil Kim is a commodity like so many other things in the post-Shiny Suit Era of the Hip Hop Industry. A time when female MCs were really damaged girls on the come up willing to become glammed up, exalted strippers spitting rhymes they did not write. Flaunting game that was coached and coaxed. Male producers boosting them like hot cars. Flipping them like refurbished homes. They were ample, eager, hungry enough to get down on all fours and become profane provocateurs who could provide money based on “Pussy Power.”
Pussy Power is not feminism. It is not womanism. It is about your worth being reduced to your private parts. Your parts being the only thing you can sell. Tits. Ass. Vagina. Marginal face with exemplary chassis. Girls getting bodied for talents they never possessed, but paraded about as the supreme because they fulfill male fantasy. This is not the same as an attractive woman with brains who uses her charm and guile and beauty to advance like an axiomatic Goddess. A success story who glides amongst us and gains the longing stares of men and women alike. This is the aspirational woman. The dream.
The likes of Lil Kim, Trina, Remy Ma and Foxy Brown fresh from prison are not.
It’s amazing that any woman, girl, child could look at this coterie of cunts and find their dreams. That they could learn their sad origin tales of sexual abuse and abandonment leading them to paths of decadence and destruction and want to cosign to a testosterone fueled world where a credit card in the crack of an ass crudely demonstrates the vulgar truths.
Pussy Power is a distortion; A liberation fantasy of pulsating pornography where women become fuck dolls, a bang, throwaway thing. They are the jump off draped in cheap chinchilla and bedazzled cubic zirconia while their impresarios prance about barking, “Skeet, skeet, skeet.”
Pussy Power is fleeting. Just like how every stripper and porn star has an expiration date, so do these crass exhibitionists/hedonists. In their male written, fantasy lyrics they call their perversions the downest of down, the hardest of hard while engaging in celebratory acts of sexual anarchy. These behaviors binding them to the sexist rules of glittering genitalia and mesmerizing mammary glands. Talentless hulls their worth is in their mechanics, a return to the slave auction of old.
“Fifteen hundred dollars,” cried the auctioneer and the maiden was struck for that sum. This was a Southern auction at which the bones, muscles, sinews, blood and nerves of a young lady of sixteen were sold for five hundred dollars; her moral character for two hundred; her improved intellect for one hundred; her Christianity for three hundred ; and her chastity and virtue for four hundred dollars more.
— “Clotel or The President’s Daughter,” by William Wells Brown
Unlike the young, innocent Clotel of Brown’s novel, these Pussy Power proprietors are twisted in their own game, knowing this is what it takes to push record label weight. To get the MAC makeup ads, the VIBE covers and the Apple Bottom Jeans. This is what they want by any means. Damn dignity ’til it’s dead if wealth you can bed. Can you tongue kiss Cartier or fuck a $3000 pure white Prada coat? Can the finest of leather and gold and luxury goods give you that Everlasting Gobstopper of orgasms?
Some are too young to know they are selling themselves when it happens. Some know exactly what they’re doing. And some become pathetic caricatures of gapped mouthed blow-up dolls being fondled by a tipsy Motown diva live on television, without thinking. It was so primal, she had to reach out and touch it to see if such ignorance was real, if shame had been murdered in a back alley by Col. Mustard with the candlestick. Or was it because it was out there as an advertisement. The exposed breast and the pastie were product meant to be sampled and enjoyed like 250-count Wamsutta sheets and teddy bears from the Build-A-Bear Workshop. Maybe Diana Ross just wanted to check out the merchandise.
Pussy Power tells a young girl a blow job is the emancipation proclamation. That an STD is an occupational hazard. That “I’m not a whore because whores work street corners, turn tricks, get smacked by pimps and fucked by johns.” They don’t rock a stage next to 50 Cent where even he has no respect as you bounce beside. Where he treats you like fading stock. Like you’re Enron.
Crash, bitch. Crash.
The American woman at her best in hi-tone commercial imagery is represent as either openly, joyously brazen and whorish, begging to take it in any orifice, or unconsciously wanton and bursting with fresh, childish, as-yet-undiscovered virginal whorishnesss, such as the fifteen-year-old girl in the Calvin Klein ads who looks like she just got punched in the face.
– “A Massive Swelling,” by Cintra Wilson
I, obviously, am filled with a disgust for this pornography masquerading as empowerment. I can still remember hip hop filled with female MCs who were not created as male playthings but were organic beings of intellect and talent. The respected pioneers and purveyors gynocentric ryhmes like MC Lyte, Queen Latifa, Monie Love, Salt N’ Pepa, Bahamadia, Left Eye and Lauryn Hill. I remembered songs to party to and songs that made me think. From drugs to feminism to AIDS to emotional loss, love and abandonment. These were women w
ith talents. These were not modern Hottentot Venuses, perfecting freshly fucked faces while drenched wet down Korean weaves.
In our anything for a dollar world, people will say we’re all grown. If Foxy Brown wants to act a fool, if she wants to pose naked because that is all she has if Jay doesn’t write the lyrics, so be it. This a business and sex has sold since there were men willing to pay for it.
But I worry about the image it sends to girls who still absorb this Pussy Power propaganda. It tells girls, especially black girls who don’t know the history of our sexualization, that only the superficial matters. Sex and consumerism are the only true American faiths. These girls do not know the history of how our parts were dissected, embalmed and preserved, then displayed as recently as 1974 in France. How we were measured and partitioned. How there was a balkanization of our sexual beings that is still remains to this day.
It is healthy and normal for young girls to explore their sexuality within the confides of their teenage world. It should not be influenced or encouraged by entertainers who are dressed like an army of Eliot Spitzer’s seven diamond whores. These women are dressed to sell. Not for love. Not for respect. They are reconstructed cattle, plastic show ponies. A little tit for tat. A little ass for cash. But this should not be paragon.
We shouldn’t have this.
The market has spoken and the industry wants these haggard-faced rough riders. We must hold tight to their daughters, love them and educate them early. We cannot wait for the world to teach them these venereal, heart break-laced horrors. We can not stand idly by as real sexuality is forgotten and becomes a victim to Pussy Power and machismo driven mythology about women crafted as a utility tool of stimulation. Sex, in its true form, should be a beautiful, healthy expression of joy, love, recreation, self-discovery and procreation. It should not be a commodity. It should not be taught as a product. It should be explained honestly, every question answered for your sons and daughters. Don’t allow them to learn true love from BET. Don’t allow them to wander into the wilderness without your wisdom and protection.
And for those who fear teaching their children about sex will turn them to promiscuous fiends, let me be a witness. My mother started to teach me about sex, gradually, from the third grade through the eight grade. She explained to me the changes happening in my body and why. She explained the feelings. She explained what was happening to my male classmates. She explained the slang and corrected the misinformation. She taught me the proper terms and the consequences, but she did not preach. She did not demand that I stay a virgin. But strangely none of The Snob Girls got pregnant in high school or college. All The Snob Girls are determined to have a ring on their finger before a baby pops out.
This doesn’t mean that I remained chaste forever. But I didn’t do it when I was young and dumb either, drunken with some SOB telling me that the cream from his “magic stick” is good for my complexion.
Education is the only way to combat the Pussy Power era. Teach your daughters self respect. Teach your sons to respect women. Teach true feminism and womanism. Teach true self-worth and love.
Because like cockroaches and taxes, Lil Kim isn’t going anywhere.