The Politics of the Butt: Nicki Minaj Got a Big Ole Butt and so Do I
Take the average black man and ask him that
She gotta pack much back
So, fellas! (Yeah!) Fellas! (Yeah!)
Has your girlfriend got the butt? (Hell yeah!)
Tell ’em to shake it! (Shake it!) Shake it! (Shake it!)
Shake that healthy butt! Baby got back!
Yes, Nikki Minaj has a round derriere and so do I. Since she came on the scene people have been obsessed with her gluteus maximus from rumors that her butt is a manufactured butt to Regis smacking her butt with a type of slave master delight on national TV. You see Nikki and I do not have regular ole butts those that blend into their environments. No, we have the black woman’s butt which is the crème de la crème of the objectified ass. Honestly, I cannot count the number of times men have thought it their right to smack my derriere as I walked down the hallway at school. I cannot count the number of times I have heard both men and women say in sexual reference, “I want to tap that” as if that was a living breathing entity of its own accord who is free to schedule its own appointments.
It’s funny as a black girl child I wanted my name to be called out in the song, Doing the Butt. Right after Keisha, the singer would say, “Little Fallon got a big ole butt” and I would touch my hands to the floor and shape my non-formed romp in the air like one of those girls. But, like most fairytales—Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella—and black girl hand games—Little Sallie Walker—we read and played as children, the Doing the Butt’s song was teaching us and some scholars like Kyra Gaunt would say scripting us to learn the proper usage of our butts which could never be used without the presence of men. You see, our behinds were the property of men. They were for men’s entertainment both as sexual gratification and as ways to constitute their heterosexual masculine identity, “Yeah son, look at that donk (i.e. a reference to a donkey’s butt) on her I will go hard on it.”
But, I did not know all of this as a black girl child. I just wanted to be called out in the song so I could do my nerdy butt dance. And so when I hit puberty and my virgin body blossomed into a young woman’s body one who could bear children, I was not prepared for the level of public discussion about my black woman’s butt. I was not prepared for the level of shame that laced trying on pants in department stores. I was not prepared for the sexual assumptions people made about the type of sex I must enjoy because I have a big ole ass, “She must like it from the back.” I was not prepared for the discussion of the ghetto butt vs. the Brazilian butt. I was not prepared for the level of excitement heterosexual men displayed when caressing my behind, “Oooh, I want to smack your ass and watch your whole body move in motion.” To say the least, I was not prepared.
It took me a while to understand that we live in a world that places great value upon women’s body parts and not the woman herself that each body part has a marked value based on the body part’s race, gender, sexuality, culture, proportion, color, texture, religion, and usage. A black woman’s butt which is at the intersection of all the things listed above has always been a sight of objectification and fetish-making tendencies beginning with Saartjie Baartman also known as the Hottentot Venus to people’s obsession with Nikki Minaj’s butt.
I know many reading this blog would say, “Just love who you are and not make this so deep.” And I do love who I am, but I am not naïve about the racialized gendered sexualized politics that are at play when talking about black women’s butts. But, perhaps, I am making this too deep. What do you think?