Janet Jackson’s legendary .janet album celebrated its 25th anniversary last month. An artist is lucky to have one magnum opus. Miss Jackson has three: Control, Rhythm Nation and .janet in my humble opinion. On this occasion, her fifth touched upon the raw nerve of female sexuality. It wasn’t a gesture of shock but a woman coming into her own skin. In the years that have followed, she continues to prove just how ahead of her time she was as it’s still seen as a revolutionary act for a woman, in particular a Black one, to own her sexuality but still be condemned for it.
Beyoncé has never been shy about revealing her body but this weekend, she took it up a notch. Nude pics of her and Jay-Z appeared in the On The Run II tour booklet.
Nasty put some clothes on I told ya…
The lyrics to Destiny’s Child’s Nasty Girl were used as a taunt against Beyoncé over the weekend. Some thought she was a hypocrite. These folks wanted to know why Bey, now a woman in her 30’s and mother, could not live by the words she sang at 20.
Some had different interpretations of how she got to this point. Growth and genes, rather than plastic surgery and thirst.
Some of these others in question happen to be one Kim Kardashian West. Her fans want to know why Kim can’t be great in the same manner that Beyoncé is for going au naturel. It was Kim who popularized “breaking the internet” in her 2014 spread for Paper but she’s usually met with scorn for nekkidness while Bey is given more of a pass for being artistic. Although, even this argument is flawed itself. There’s a group of white women that have created a cottage industry chiding Beyoncé for aesthetics, pregnancy announcements, whether she’s really a feminist and joy because it’s hurting some random Becky’s feelings somewhere. They’ve probably beaten me to a think piece whereas others believe Beyoncé should just sing in ball gowns and rely on her vocal talent alone. It’s always something but it is fair to ask why the energy is generally different for Beyoncé and Kim.
For one, most of us don’t love Kim like we do Beyoncé. I know I don’t. Her recent exchange with RhymeFest was another reminder of why; her gleeful insistence that she would “take” from the organizers in Chicago who have been putting in the due diligence while that husband of hers pays money to buy pictures of Whitney Houston’s drug addled bathroom but can’t cut a check to a foundation in his mother’s name.
That mean girl inside her jumps out whenever she can punch down on the culture she exploits. I will never support those who believe that “slavery is a choice” or enablers of such an ideology because it enriches them. Kim is not a freedom fighter because Alice Johnson is now released from prison. I’m happy that Johnson now enjoys her freedom but that moment will not be weaponized to lead others astray because Kim has a news cycle devoted to her efforts or to marginalize those who have been putting in the work.
Yeah, I don’t like Kim. With all that said, if Kim wants to bare all, more power to her.
The same salutations go out to Nicki Minaj. These days, she can’t breathe without being called out as the “bad guy” of the Hip Hop industry. Her Cleopatra inspired album cover for Queen didn’t quiet her detractors who think she’s desperate and just using sex in absence of substance to sell. But everyone’s got the fever when Michael B. Jordan appears topless on the cover of June’s Essence. Mind you, I’m not complaining at all but no one of sane mind told him to put clothes on. If Nicki Minaj wants to monetize her looks, make that coin.
Stormy Daniels made hers in the porn industry and now Rudy Giuliani thinks that cheapens her credibility. He even opened his mouth to say that true feminists shouldn’t co-sign sex workers or any woman who asserts her sexuality. Boy bye. I’m also glad we left behind those that wanted to cancel Rihanna last year because she dared to put on a few pounds and couldn’t appreciate her form. All the men I know are in love with RiRi. In all honesty, I’m drawn to her free spirit as well and that banging body of hers at any size doesn’t hurt at all.
It’s almost cliché at this point for a woman to come into her own liberation. This is not a suggestion that modesty is of the past. A lot of women aren’t comfortable showing more than necessary and that’s more than fine. That’s actually me. Or was me. I’m transitioning out of that mindset of being covered up all the time. For many years, I didn’t want to be seen. I wore sweaters and clothes that swallowed up my petite frame. I didn’t want eyes on me. No shorts, tank tops, mini skirts or anything tight that could show any part of my body. In a way, I blamed myself for my sexual abuse as a child. I was real messed up. As is the thinking that women invite assault or disrespect because of what they have on or don’t.
Each day, I’m doing my best to shake off the respectability politics I was raised by. Each woman can do her. I rely more on my smarts but I feel no remorse if I’m feeling myself. You could say I’m asserting control. Janet taught me. She’s been quite the teacher for an entire generation.