Beyoncé’s VMA performance included a blatant display of her declaration to the feminist cause — “FEMINIST” flashed across the screen behind her. She wasn’t, however, the only feminist to grace the stage that night. Nicki Minaj’s performance of her new single “Anaconda” was an unapologetic display of her sexuality and it was bigger and better than any of ass could’ve expected.
The hype around Minaj’s “Anaconda” began when she shared her cover art back in July. Her music video, which was released about a week ago, had a lot to live up to. And Minaj never disa(ss)ppoints.
Over the course of her four minute and 49 second video, Nicki successfully reclaims ownership of black women’s bodies by shattering male gaze that was established by “Baby Got Back” two decades ago. In his video, Sir Mix-a-Lot objectified black women’s bodies by featuring black female backup dancers who solely functioned as props while he sang, “I like big butts and I cannot lie.” The line “My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hun” is taken verbatim from “Baby Got Back.”
Minaj reverses the gender dynamic that has become the norm in mainstream hip-hop by rapping about her multiple male sexual partners — her “boy toy Troy” and “this dude named Michael.” This is incredibly important, as an outrageous double standard exists in this supposed modern 21st century. Men who have multiple partners are lauded as players, while non-monogamous women are slut-shamed.
The last portion of “Anaconda” also addresses gender inequality through role reversal by featuring Drake. As the only man in this video, his purpose is to obliterate any lingering doubt over the ownership of Minaj’s body through what has been termed the “hover hand.” As Drake reaches out to touch Minaj’s ass, she swats his hand away and struts off. This sends a powerful message. Even though Minaj had been treating him to a lap dance, he isn’t entitled to her body. This tackles today’s “tease” issue, in which women are coerced into engaging in sexual activity against their will if they’ve shown any sort of romantic interest. They are pressured into following through, for fear of being labeled a tease. The only time a woman should engage in any sort of sexual act with anyone is when she wants to.
For a summary of Minaj’s feelings, forward to 3:20. Clad in an apron, she stands in the kitchen where she breaks a cucumber in half and cuts up a banana. Take that, patriarchy.