As I was getting ready for a night out this weekend, a song by the iconic former R&B group, Destiny’s Child, came on my playlist. The song “Independent Women, Pt. I” began playing through my speakers, and I was taken back to when I was 10 years old listening to this song for the first time on my portable CD player.
If you’re anything like me, you grew up watching artists on MTV like Beyonce, Britney Spears and The Pussycat Dolls, obsessing over how much you wanted to be like them largely because of their overall beauty and confidence.
While I was definitely too young to be memorizing the lyrics to sensual songs about sex and finessing men for their money, I was not too young to have been exposed to the underlying message that lies within almost all female R&B/rap music: defeating traditional gender roles and embracing one’s femininity.
I’m thankful for their encouragement any time I wake up and blast their music in my ear, and it gives me a sense of empowerment that I think many women, regardless of age can feel inspired by.
The song that followed Destiny's Child on my playlist was one by none other than Megan Thee Stallion. You’ve probably heard her most famous songs “Cash Sh*t” and “Hot Girl Summer” play on the radio alongside generic pop artists, but upon further listening, it struck me that her lyrics weren’t as generic as one would make them out to be.
For example, her line “He say he hungry this ***** the kitchen” is explicit, yes. But after laughing at the bold line, one can read further into what she is saying: if a man is making implications that you should cook for him because he is hungry (though he should be perfectly capable of cooking himself), you should completely not do what he expects of you and instead ask him for something in return.
Who does he think he is? Or better yet, who does he think you are? Does being the woman in the relationship automatically give you the responsibility of taking on duties like cooking and cleaning? Absolutely not, and that is exactly what female rap artists exist to tell women.
Artists like Megan, Nicki and Lizzo all exist to be the voice for us women when we’re feeling sad, reminding us of our worth and just how powerful feeling confident can be.
It’s no secret that women are constantly undermined in comparison to men. Confident, successful artists like the ones listed above refute the wide misconception that a woman’s work is worth less than a man’s. Women can rap. Women can perform. Women can make more money than a man in the same profession could. Women can be the ideal role model for girls without filling the traditional shoes that all women are expected to.
When I played the music video to “When I Grow Up” by The Pussycat Dolls on repeat, 10-year-old me wasn’t romanticizing the parts of Nicole Scherzinger’s lifestyle that included finding a husband, getting married or living life as a stay-at-home mom. Rather, 10-year-old me was infatuated with the idea that these women could potentially have any man they wanted, but they didn’t have time to focus on boys because they loved their occupations and did perfectly fine all by themselves.
They may not be the first thought that comes to mind when you picture women as role models, but there is more value in their messages than these artists get credit for.
Julia Montoya is a senior from Garden City studying English.