Culture / Music

Sex Talk and F-Bombs

Classic hip-hop enthusiasts will recall Salt-n-Pepa, the sassy and provocative girl group that brought critically acclaimed, feminist lyrics–“scriptures,” if you will–to a generation of devoted audiences. Much like that era’s reigning “Queen,” Latifah, both acts provided not only desirable eye-candy for same-gender loving women, but their lyrics were embraced as necessary counter-narratives to a largely sexist, often homophobic arena of narcissistic, male posturing and groin clutching.

PHOTO CREDIT: SALT-N-PEPA

PHOTO CREDIT: SALT-N-PEPA

With the release of Salt-n-Pepa’s controversial music video Let’s Talk About Sex (1991), the funky trio dared to position a discussion on safe sex, censorship and tolerance, just as the gay community was navigating the AIDS crisis with devastation and cautious hope. At the same time, HIV illness and panic were rising swiftly in communities of color and particularly among straight African American women.

“Let’s talk about sex baby

Let’s talk about you and me

All the good things and the bad things that may be…”

Celebrated for unifying and educating messaging, Let’s Talk About Sex became an anthem for many of us who were sashaying or plodding our way through awkward rites of sexual passage in those early coming out years. Parents, teachers and religious leaders, on the other hand, absolutely lost their minds. ‘Back in the day,’ as that expression flows, Salt-n-Pepa, (now fortysomething year-old mothers themselves) were seen as aggressive sapphires, too independent thinking for their own good. That they would dare to conflate the politics of Race! Body! Boobs! Butts! and Brains! and urge straight and queer young people to have safe sex was unthinkable. After all, girls especially, weren’t supposed to be having sex. Yet, many were, consensually, and more, without consent.

F-Bombs for Feminism, a spirited, activist-inspired video, produced by FCKH8.com, owes its visual strength and hard-hitting, social messaging, to the legacy of Salt-n-Pepa, Latifah, along with a list of early feminist rappers, but with a witty twist.

Framed as the “Princess in Distress,” a charming, fierce ensemble of racially and culturally diverse, pouty-mouth, little divas, impart F-words with enough attitude and self-assurance to leave Bart Simpson crying for his Momma Marge. Besides, insists the most Lilliputian of the bad-asses, “What’s more offensive? A little girl saying F*ck or the sexist way society treats girls and women?”

You should be very afraid to dispute any of them.

Working against type while dressed in it, the campy costumes that the tiara-crowned, pink satin-attired girls wear, bring to mind the figures of Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and a host of other fantasy “princess” subjects. These representations are answerable to thousands of polarizing arguments and viral triggers across social media platforms. They are as well, potent reminders of girls who want/need to be rescued, or who are punished and sent to their rooms in distant castle towers and worse—for “talking” about sex, having it, or saying ‘No’ to the expectant answer ‘Yes.’

Troubling too, with Halloween in the air. I mean, really, sexual politics aside, who can resist a tiara and a magic wand?

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One Comment

  1. Love this! It’s a new world out there.

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