"Ladies, Now Let's Get in Formation": Understanding Activism, Empowerment, and Feminism of Black Female Popular Artists

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This thesis examines the messages of activism and empowerment that are present in the music of currently popular Black female artists Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj. It analyzes how these messages of empowerment can be placed in a Black feminist discourse. Furthermore, it explores if mediated feminism can present new forms of womanhood, and whether the presence of feminist messages in popular culture aids in the strength of feminism or leads to its demise. Grounded in theories of feminism by Kimberly Crenshaw, Stacy Gillis, Angela McRobbie, and Anastasia Valassopoulos, theories of Black feminism by Patricia Hill Collins, Ula Y. Taylor, and theories of popular culture by Jaap Kooijman and Diane Railton and Paul Watson, the analysis of instances of female empowerment in personal and performance feminism showed that both women present different forms of Black feminism. Although Beyoncé and Minaj show different practices and degrees of activism and empowerment, both presented new paradigms of womanhood, and their forms of feminism, although mediated, did not show feminism’s demise.
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