Women in rap have been making music about their bodies and sexual endeavors since its inception. In a new era of sexual liberation and body positivity, contemporary female rappers ranging from Megan Thee Stallion and Latto to Sexyy Red and Sukihana are channeling the fearless candidness of their predecessors, unapologetically expressing their sexuality and desires on tracks that have also become some of rap’s biggest hits in recent years. Despite this, it’s been unfortunate and frustrating to see some people use these artists’ hypersexualized personas against them, particularly in excusing abuse and unwanted sexual advances from men.
This problem came to a head this week, when videos surfaced of YK Osiris forcing himself on Sukihana for a kiss at the Crew League basketball tournament in Atlanta. In clips shared online, it’s clear that she’s shocked by his advances and is trying to dodge them, but no one helps her. Amid these clips going viral, a video from a three-month-old episode of Kandi Burruss’ Kandi Koated podcast surfaced, with the clip showing Burruss’ co-host A1 making aggressive sexual advances toward Sukihana.
Although visibly uncomfortable in the interview, Sukihana tries her best to navigate it, laughing off A1’s advances and even telling him he’s being aggressive. Still, the co-host doesn’t get the hint, instead continuing his advances and arguing that Sukihana liked them, with no one coming to the rapper’s defense.
From the start of her career, Sukihana has been known for her vulgar and explicit rap lyrics. However, the rapper has been very clear that her music persona and what Sukihana represents is simply that — a persona. In an interview with former NFL player Cam Newton, the rapper was transparent about the connection between her music personality and her home life. “Sukihana comes out when the cameras [are] on,” she said. “I’m a mom 24/7, my life is being a mom. I just happen to be a mom with a career.”
Sukihana’s actual identity is often overlooked when the cameras come out, but her persona is not an invitation to violate her. She’s a woman who deserves to be respected and is allowed to revoke consent at any moment just like anybody else. However, the past two days have shown that some people don’t agree with that sentiment.
Although a vast majority of women spoke out in Sukihana’s defense in regards to both incidents — but primarily the one with YK Osiris — other social media users, many of whom were men, argued that Sukihana got what she asked for. Some even attempted to downplay the moment as a “mistake” made by YK, as was the case with Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill.
In the first of his series of tweets, Mill asked for the community not to tear Osiris down “for mistakes in this hyper sexual era,” and then proceeded to seemingly speak to Sukihana by saying “hold that shit down on some street shit.” Then, he suggested that Osiris settle the issue with Sukihana’s brother, which was followed up by a final tweet where he wrote: “And protect suki! Osiris you a dh! Go back to church stop following the heathens!”
The main issue with Meek’s tweets is that they undermined something that should’ve never happened, simplifying it as a mistake when it was so much more. But also, there was more concern for Osiris than there was Sukihana, something that speaks to how Black men are often prioritized in incidents like this over the person they’ve harmed. There have been countless instances of Black women being publicly abused — both in the industry and in everyday society — but asked to protect Black men at the expense of themselves. This, paired with bystanders failing to speak out in these moments, only upholds the precedent that abusing women is acceptable, further allowing abuse against women to continue.
With what Sukihana has endured, it’s hard to not think of the abuse other women rappers have faced, and how their hypersexualized personas were used against them, too. In the summer of 2020, Megan Thee Stallion was shot by R&B singer Tory Lanez. The two years that followed the incident wreaked havoc on Megan’s personal life, as misinformation surrounding the shooting was spread, along with the rapper facing backlash for Lanez’s case with the state of California. Megan’s sexuality, rap lyrics, and drinking habits were weaponized against her both in and out of court, used to diminish the undeniable fact that Megan had been shot. And to think that she had initially wanted to settle matters privately and protect Lanez at her own expense, before his publicizing the matter forced her to do the same.
In 2022, Latto shared how she dealt with sexual harassment leading up to the release of her debut album, 777. During an appearance on Big Boy’s Neighborhood, the rapper alleged that one of the people featured on her album initially wouldn’t clear the song because she wouldn’t respond to his advances.
“It’s a feature on my album that was difficult to clear. They’re trying to drop their nuts on me because I won’t respond to a DM,” she said. “We think like, ‘Oh, well that just comes with the game being a female rapper.’ No it shouldn’t, though. You know you ain’t doing that to your fellow male rappers!”
Although she never revealed who harassed her, many speculated that it was Kodak Black who she was referring to (he appears on the track “Bussdown”), who denied it was him on social media. Shortly after this, Latto suggested that she regretted bringing up the matter during an appearance on The Breakfast Club, saying: “You hear, like, ‘Oh, female rappers have it harder.’ But I really wanted to give a little insight as to what specifically makes it harder for a female rapper. I didn’t want it to distract from the music or anything, so I kind of wish, in a way, I didn’t say that.”
But women in this industry and beyond shouldn’t have to be afraid or regret speaking a necessary truth, and calling out wrongs done to them. It’s clear that there’s still a double standard when it comes to women rappers who are autonomous in their sexual expression, with their hypersexualized personas seen as a justification for the abuse they face. But, as Sukihana succinctly put in an Instagram post following the incident with YK: “I am human, a woman, a mother and daughter before I am an entertainer. No matter what my lyrics express, I still have boundaries and a right to have them.”
Daniella Johnson is a freelance reporter based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her previous work includes assistant producing local news television and writing digital stories in Austin, Texas as well as writing local news stories in Atlanta, Georgia. Daniella loves to write about lifestyle trends, travel and entertainment.
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