Tag Archives: sexual politics

Cult of the Freaknasty: a Glimpse into the Hip Hop Erotic

By  Guest Contributor Regina N. Barnett, originally published at Red Clay Scholar

A couple of weeks back I had the pleasure of attending a Rap Sessions panel that discussed the question of women and their role in Hip Hop. One particular response by Dr. Raquel Rivera really stuck with me: “we are too fast to demonize the raunch. Don’t demonize the Raunch!” Joan Morgan (yes, THE Joan Morgan) followed up with an astute observation that American society does not have a discourse available for the erotic. My first response? “Ha! I love that!” The second response? “Yeah, that makes sense.”

What is our fascination with sexuality? Particularly, what is our fascination with the erotic and its impact on our understanding of blackness? (Hyper)sexuality often frames our understanding of men and women of color since our implementation into western culture. It is a gendered and oppressive space, often maintaining rigid boundaries and unilateral interpretation. For centuries, the black body existed primarily within the confinements of sexual expression. And, unfortunately, that space has not completely evolved. The Americanized erotic is transfixed within the slave discourse and white privilege that dominated the antebellum United States. Although I do not deny that women have been objectified via the infamous “male gaze,” a “one-up” that white women have over black women is the fact that at least their “honor” and “purity” granted them access to the coveted cult of true womanhood. Their bodies and sexuality are considered worthy of preserving and being respected. Black women, however, have inherited membership in the cult of the freaknasty. Breeders, freak (a leek)s, Jezebels, and, as Abbey Lincoln suggests, “sexual outhouses of white men,” African American women have not been able to remove themselves from the perspective of a sexual lens. Continue reading