Video vixen

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The performer Nicki Minaj in concert. Minaj has been described as a video vixen.[1]

A video vixen (also referred to as a hip hop honey or video girl[2]) is a female model who appears in hip-hop-oriented music videos. The video vixen image has become a staple and a nuanced form of sex work within popular music, especially within the genre of hip-hop.[3] Many video vixens are aspiring actors, singers, dancers, or professional models.[4] Women from various cultures have been portrayed either as fragile, manipulative, fetishistic, or submissive within contemporary music lyrics, videos, concert and movie soundtracks,[5] although this is not universal, as demonstrated by the archetypal ride-or-die chick.

Social aspect[edit]

The work of video vixens and their portrayal in music videos have drawn criticism. Critics suggest that music-video models are typically placed in subordinate and submissive roles while male artists are shown in positions of power.[6][7] Others argue that music-video models are depicted as sexual objects, signs of male power, and referred to in derogatory terms such as "bitch" and "slut".[8][9][10]

In 2004, Nelly's video for his song "Tip Drill" came under particular criticism for its depiction and sexual objectification of women.[11][12] While some people pointed out that the women who appeared in Nelly's video voluntarily chose to participate,[13] others insisted that male rappers continue to sexually objectify hip hop models[7] while denying that the hip hop artists' career is, at least in part, based on the exploitation of other people.[14]

In 2005, former hip hop music-video model Karrine Steffans authored the book Confessions of a Video Vixen, in which she depicts the degradation of women in the world of hip hop. The book's publisher describes it as "part tell-all, part cautionary tale".[15] The book went on to be a best seller in the US.[16] Another hip hop model, Candace Smith, said in an XXL interview, "what I've seen on [hip hop music video] sets is complete degradation".[17]

Female rappers as video vixens[edit]

Female rappers have most substantially felt this pressure, where sex appeal is now the currency by which women in the music business are both valued and devalued.[citation needed] In particular, female rappers such as Lil' Kim and Trina occupy what T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting calls a "peculiar place of cultural antipathy", often accused of selling out and blamed for participating in the exploitation of women.[1] Similarly, Nicki Minaj is arguably[by whom?] a 'video vixen' who is the 'object, subject, and author' of sexually explicit music videos.[1]

Female rappers who have shown themselves off as "video vixens" include Nicki Minaj, Trina, Eve, Rasheeda, Foxy Brown, Remy Ma, Da Brat, Jacki-O, Shawnna, Gangsta Boo, LoLa Monroe, Diamond Princess, Cardi B and many others. The role of women has evolved over time in the hip-hop world. Two artists in the early era of hip-hop, rapper Roxanne Shante and rap group Salt-N-Pepa, were well-known for rapping about defending the image of women.[5] They were responding to male hip-hop artists who habitually degrade women.[5] Rappers Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown, Trina, Nicki Minaj, and many others are all opposite and seem to accept this hyper-sexuality.[5][18]

Black women in hip hop[edit]

Audre Lorde, who spoke out for black girls who are considered video vixens, said: "If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive."[19] The images presented in mass media, specifically in music videos, portray hyper-sensual images of the female sex. These images created within the world of hip hop reinforce the negative stereotypes associated with women, especially with black women.

It is pressuring for women musicians to conform to the porn standards because if not they will have to compete with the women who do.[18]

People realize that images of women is what rap music videos sell whether the women in the videos are playing the part of cheerleaders or die-hard groupies. Women in the videos are what gets the attention of men and guarantees a male audience.[18] The images are still shots of women taken from videos displaying their appearance. Women are tended to dress half naked and moving their body in sexual ways.[18] The media paint the picture that African American women are only seen as sexual figures in the society. Once these images are put out there these women are not the owner of their representation anymore.[19]

Expressing femininity in hip hop[edit]

Gender Performance is an evolving category where hip hop artists express femininity in non-conventional ways that break the stereotype of the passive, hyper-sexualized female body as an object to be consumed.[20] Throughout the genre in graffiti, breakdancing, and rapping, women are addressing the issues associated with the passive stereotype of female representation in hip hop. Feminist activism in hip hop re-examines the relationship women have to the hip hop culture, and how women choose to assert their sexuality.

A form of femininity in hip hop is through asserting sexuality and using it as a dominant source of power, creating the notion of being liberated and a subject as opposed to an object.[21] Artists within this category use blatant sexuality to their advantage as a part of their marketing and work. Due to the commodification of hip hop and stereotyping, the "sex sells" concept became prominent within mainstream hip hop culture.

Successful career paths[edit]

Some video vixens who have made a name for themselves in the music video industry, as well as girls with limited work as hip hop models, have gone on to other types of work with greater success, mostly by marketing themselves.

Nicole Alexander became an American reality TV show contestant and is known for winning the VH1 reality television shows of Flavor of Love in its first season and I Love Money.[22] Another reality show winner was Chandra Davis who won the second season of VH1's Flavor of Love competition.

Leila Arcieri was voted Miss San Francisco in the 1997 Miss California pageant and went on to act in television series, such as Son of the Beach, a parody of Baywatch. Melyssa Ford is a radio personality for popular entertainment podcast, Hollywood Unlocked.[23]

Vida Guerra has modelled for many magazines, including DUB, Smooth, Escape, and Open Your Eyes, often as the cover girl. She has also made multiple appearances on several Spanish language television programs, such as entertainment gossip show El Gordo y la Flaca, and commercials for Burger King's TenderCrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch. She's lent her voice to the video game Scarface: The World Is Yours.

Lauren London has a successful career in movies and television. Angel Melaku, Nicole Narain went on to acting careers, while LisaRaye McCoy became a famous actress.

Buffie Carruth appeared in the movie ATL, made a fitness-instruction DVD,[24] and has a written a book about her life.[25]

Karrine Steffans appeared in the movie A Man Apart and wrote the explosive 2005 New York Times Bestseller Confessions of a Video Vixen.[26]

Amber Rose appeared in the music video "Put On" in 2008 and since then has become a successful model and actress.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Aun Qi Koh (September 1, 2012). "'It's Barbie, bitch!': In Defense of Nicki Minaj, Black Female Rappers and Hip-hop Feminism". Political Beanie.
  2. ^ Shalit, Wendy (2007). Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's Not Bad to Be Good. New York: Random House. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-4000-6473-1. [...] girls of color have a whole aspect of hip-hop with those horrible videos and the rise of the hip-hop honey or video girl.
  3. ^ Story, Kaila A. "Performing Venus-From Hottentot to Video Vixen." Home Girls Make Some Noise: Hip-hop Feminism Anthology. By Gwendolyn D. Pough, Mark Anthony. Neal, and Joan Morgan. Mira Loma, CA: Parker Pub., 2007. N. pag. Print.
  4. ^ Sharpley-Whiting, T. Denean. Pimps up, Ho's down: Hip Hop's Hold on Young Black Women. New York: New York University Press, 2007, p. 26, ISBN 978-0-8147-4014-9.
  5. ^ a b c d Pough, Gwendolyn (2007). "What It Do, Shorty?: Women, Hip-Hop, and a Feminist Agenda". Black Women, Gender + Families.
  6. ^ Conrad, Kate; Dixon, Travis; Zhang, Yuanyuan (2009). "Controversial Rap Themes, Gender Portrayals and Skin Tone Distortion: A Content Analysis of Rap Music Videos". Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. 53 (1): 134–156. doi:10.1080/08838150802643795.
  7. ^ a b Stange, Mary Zeiss; Carol K. Oyster; Jane Sloan. Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Reference, 2011, p. 695, ISBN 978-1-4129-7685-5.
  8. ^ Hall, Ann C.; Mardia J. Bishop. Pop-Porn: Pornography in American Culture. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2007, p. 8, ISBN 978-0-275-99920-9.
  9. ^ Jeffries, Michael P. Thug Life: Race, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011, p. 155, ISBN 978-0-226-39584-5.
  10. ^ Keyes, Cheryl Lynette. Rap Music and Street Consciousness. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002, p. 220, ISBN 978-0-252-02761-1.
  11. ^ "Nelly feels the heat". The Chicago Tribune (April 02, 2005), accessed October 01, 2011.
  12. ^ Arce, Rose (March 04, 2005). "Hip-hop portrayal of women protested" Archived April 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. CNN, accessed October 01, 2011.
  13. ^ "Black college women take aim at rappers". USAToday (April 23, 2004), accessed October 01, 2011.
  14. ^ Rose, Tricia. The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop - And Why It Matters. New York: BasicCivitas, 2008, p. 177, ISBN 978-0-465-00897-1.
  15. ^ "Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans" Archived December 12, 2005, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on February 11, 2006.
  16. ^ "Best Sellers: Hardcover Nonfiction". The New York Times. July 24, 2005.
  17. ^ Salaam, Khalid and Palting, Joaquin (2006). "Eye Candy: Tastes Like Candace" Archived January 17, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. XXL Magazine. New York: Harris Publications. Retrieved on February 11, 2006.
  18. ^ a b c d Levande, Meredith (2008). "Women, Pop Music, and Pornography". Meridians.
  19. ^ a b Balaji, Murali (2010). "Vixen Resistin': Redefining Black Womanhood in Hip Hop Music Videos". Journal of Black Studies. doi:10.1177/0021934708325377.
  20. ^ Johnson, Imani Kai (April 12, 2014). "From blues women to b-girls: performing badass femininity" (PDF). Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  21. ^ Pough, Gwendolyn D. (2007). Home Girls Make Some Noise: Hip Hop Feminism Anthology. Mira Loma, California: Parker Publishing. pp. 116–127. ISBN 978-1-60043-010-7.
  22. ^ Andy Dehnart. "Hoopz wins I Love Money". reality blurred. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  23. ^ "Hot Jamz". Sirius Satellite Radio. Archived from the original on October 14, 2008. Retrieved January 25, 2009. Hot Jamz is about to get a lot hotter: Melyssa Ford has joined our squad!
  24. ^ Grade A Glutes by Buffie the Body (2013)". August 17, 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2013
  25. ^ Carruth, Buffie. (2009). "Vixen Icon". Triple Crown Publications. 978-0091874759
  26. ^ List. "10 Most Famous Video Vixens". Fuse. Retrieved 2019-02-26.

Further reading[edit]

  • Thompson, Bonsu and Huang, Howard (August 4, 2004). "Eye Candy Hall of Fame". XXL Magazine. New York: Harris Publications. Retrieved on February 11, 2006.

Amazing Aura. n.d. Black Women in Sex Work (How and Why Colorism and Racism Exists in Strip Clubs and Sex Work). Accessed March 5, 2018.