Nicki Or FLOTUS? Let’s Stop Acting Like There Are Only Two Types Of Women Out There For Our Daughters To Be

November 14, 2012  |  

See this picture? I’m kind of annoyed by it.

Here we have a picture of a cute little black girl, maybe between eight to 10 years old, with two ponytails, who I guess is pondering that age old question most kids her age think about: “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Judging by the picture, she has it narrowed down to two things: a pearl-wearing Michelle Obama or a spread eagle lollipop-sucking Nicki Minaj. Over her is the caption: “Decisions, Decisions.” I guess in real life you can only be one or the other, right?

The message, which is included beneath the picture, means well: “We must teach our Children OUR History, educate them on who they are, & what GREATNESS runs through their veins…our children are in dire need of Love & guidance. Instilling self-worth in our children is the key investment for OUR bright future. ~AHS” AHS is short for African History and Spirituality, which is some sort of black folk empowerment meme page on Facebook.

But something about this bothers me. I think it is because the message of self-worth hinges so much on the same recycled Madonna/w***e image, which is so established in our culture. As Sigmund Freud once theorized, society has divided women into two sects: the serious marrying kind and the ones you have fun with.  And since girlhood, women have been told that one version is what you should aspire to while the latter is a cautionary tale. I always found this perplexing considering that in the lives of virtually all of the women I have ever met in life, including myself, the way in which we define our own personal femininity is a little more varied and dimensional than what is presented in this picture. SO, why do we continue to push on the younger generation of women this singular version of what is acceptable, or desirable, womanhood?

Okay, so Nicki Minaj’s artistry is not everybody’s cup of tea. But is she really the epitome of all things wrong with womanhood, particularly black womanhood? Sure she makes funny voices, wears even funnier clothing and sings about sex, but she is also a savvy businesswoman who has managed to turn her act into a multi-million dollar brand.  If she was a male rapper, she would be Jay-Z. And we certainly admire him for his business decorum.  So in this context, I have no problem seeing Minaj as a positive inspiration or role model too. In some aspects, she is probably more easy to relate to than a figure like Michelle Obama.

Think about it: Most people cite Michelle Obama’s greatest achievement in life as being the black first lady of the United States of America. However, there is no first lady training course in college or even through one of those certified degree training programs.  There is only one Barack Obama. And even if you manage to marry a psuedo-Barack Obama, the odds that your spouse would become the president of the United States is probably close to nil. In fact, you probably have a better chance of becoming an actual Disney princess than the FLOTUS. So in the off-chance that you don’t become the first lady like Obama, why not put the time and effort into your own brand and become a successful single lady like Minaj?

And that’s not to say that Obama is not an accomplished woman or even that being a wife and mother isn’t an accomplishment in itself. It takes a lot to hold a relationship – let alone a family – together. I’m saying that in the context of this picture, her version of femininity should not be considered of no greater value or less desirable than that of Minaj.  Nor should it be considered in contrast or held as the sole beacon of positive black womanhood.  It’s just not honest to do so.

I can imagine that for a young woman trying to find her self-worth somewhere in between a Minaj and an Obama might feel excluded from this dichotomy we see in this picture. This is why it is not healthy to continue to push these outdated, one-dimensional and sexist expectations for girls and women. We should tell them the truth. That that we know some financially secure, married Nicki Minajs. And we also know some very single and very broke Michelle Obamas. We also know some women, who are a combination of both women – plus some archetypes you haven’t even thought of.  And if you happen to fall outside of the two options, there is a life of happiness and fulfillment out there for you too.

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  • MrsB

    I am certainly not being judgemental but a parent has a certain responsibily to educate their children. Of course she isn’t going to understand everything our first lady stands for but she can understand the basics. A child is a blank slate, its up to you what you fill that slate with. If a child can comprehend that spongebob is a character that lives under the sea then he/she can definitely understand that the president runs our country and his first lady is doing a great job backing him up.

  • Here is the point I think the author of this article is trying to say. Why is it that a woman can not present her sexuality but a man can? And why is it that a woman who presents her sexuality is viewed as a tramp or a lesser person? Can’t a woman we overtly sexual AND smart? Personally I find nothing interesting about Nicki Minaj but she does not offend me. The problem is how society wants to put woman into roles aka objects. Men can be whatever they want to be, show whatever they want to, as the old saying I heard as a child “get up from the gutter and still be a man”. Men can clean up. Women can’t. I think the author of this article is trying to discuss why women can’t just be human beings without all the societal judgment. The world wants to dress women up like Christmas trees with a certain acceptable image. Why can’t a woman just be whatever she wants to be!

  • Wow

    Who in the heck other than some ignant A$$ hood booger wants their daughter to aspire to be like Nicki Minaj aka Sambo in a blonde wig and butt injections? If you have a child who is even close to considering giving these options equal weight please intervene and put her in the presence of women who may or may not be Mrs. O but who can demonstrate to her what positive things she can do to become a successful role model for other girls to one day follow. We’ve got enough Minajs, basketball wives, and pole straddlers, let’s start creating more educators, doctors, engineers, and future first ladies.

    • IllyPhilly

      Dead @ “ignant A$$ hood booger” Sounds about right though.

  • pfeiffer87

    This reminds me of that Mad Men episode where they create an ad dividing women into either Jackie O or Marilyn Munroe types, either/or. That was the 60s.

  • I was with this article up until the third paragraph. I think the author diminished Michelle Obama’s achievements just to make a point.

    Unlike Nicki Minaj, Michelle Obama is the total package. FLOTUS didn’t have to rely on on her sex appeal to be ridiculously successful and she was able to attract a successful and loving man. What’s not to love about everything that she represents?

    Minaj has put her self in a bit of a conundrum. While she is business savvy, I can only imagine what road blocks her current image may cause her when she’s older.

  • Kay

    Okay this article is a mess!!! I dont know many mothers who would want thier kids to follow in the footsteps of Nicki Minage. I am a teacher and see the impact media chaaracters ike Minaj has on little girls. I would rather have little girls aspiring to succeed like michelle not be a copy of her. She is an example of what alot of educated black women had growing up and looked up to. My mother was not FLOTUS but she was and is a great mother,wife, educated and is currently obtaining her PHD. I think we need to encourage girls to read, have hobbies and build thier self esteem other than looking for this fake, fabricated media characters to validate them.

  • Kay

    Black people need to do better, period. We used to be a proud people who had dignity and wouldn’t be caught looking a fool. Our people went through all types of horrific acts of violence and persecution so that our generation could have the freedom to get educated, to build a career, live where we wanted, and just live normal lives with self respect. They didn’t go through all of that so we could “get money.” They didn’t go through all that so we could have the freedom to promote sex, drugs, and partying. This generation has it twisted, and we’re in moral decline. Our aspirations have changed. Now it’s bad if a little black girl wants to aspire to be like Michelle Obama? Lord save us!

  • Cleo

    Michelle Obama is an amazing role model, she’s real and you can see she in comfortable in her own skin. I’m 20 and I admire her, without putting her on a pedestal.

  • Dhs whs up

  • family guy

    I am not a Nikki fan but I will admitt she is talented. Now as a father of two daughters it is a no brainer who I would want my daughter to grow up to be. My oldest might of heard a few of Nikki songs on the radio but I and her mother has made sure that she doesn’t idolize her. And to compare Nikki to Jay-z is like comparing apples to oranges. Sure they might be some what the same but they are not the same. And as Jay-z has said in many of his rhymes “he is cut from a different cloth.” And that goes a long way, Nikki didn’t start her own company to get started. When I first purchased Jay-z reasonable doubt, never and I mean never did I come across a picture of him in the beginning of his career rocking a two-piece smoking on a blunt, I surely would of stop being a fan.

  • Merriegirl

    MN consistently bates its readers to bash Nicki Minaj. Its tired. Find another woman to attack.

    • Sashley

      Clearly, you didn’t even read the article.

      • Lisa

        Clearly!!!!! PLEASE READ ARTICLE BEFORE YOU COMMENT!! now that’s funny

        • Merriegirl

          the all caps is definitely not necessary. relax.

      • Merriegirl

        Have a seat. I did not care to read the article. I could see from the title that readers would be incited to attack Nicki and I scroll down to see the typical rants about how she is a disgrace and worthless…etc

        • If you aren’t going to read the article then I suggest you shut up. Nobody said that girl was worthless… We said she is NOT a good role model and she isn’t so keep that Captain Save A H O E s h i t to yourself because nobody is here for it

  • Miyo K.

    I didn’t read the article but I do agree with the premise that there are not only two types of persona a girl/woman can have.

  • nene

    I don’t understand why it’d be bad for little girls to be inspired by Michelle. Michelle is more than the FLOTUS. I’m talking about her personal achievements. Do you think she told herself “OK I’m gonna marry this guy because he’ll become President one day”? Parents should be the first source of inspirations for kids. Yes, I look up to Michelle and the POTUS but to my parents first and foremost.

  • Um… Nikki Minaj is NEVER “a more easy to relate to than a figure like Michelle Obama’ are you crazy?! Or am I crazy?! She is making money off of young girls by selling them a fake image that demeans women and most of all herself. And yes she’s making money off it but not as much as the MEN that are running her career. Did she just turn into a prostitute? Possibly? Michelle is soooooooooo much more than a wife and mother. Did this author just skip over the whole law degree etc.? I’m floored! I will always aspire to put more in education (i.e. Michelle) over selling my a** for a profit!

    P.S. Nikki does not = Jay-z (eye roll) she’s been around for 30 days please

    • IllyPhilly

      Yessss, I was thinking damn did the author just pretty much say, “Chile you know you ain’t good enough to be nothin’ but some overpaid stripper.”

  • Mrs.B

    One point….The author compares Minaj’s career to that of Jay-Z but I don’t agree. Ms. Minaj’s entire persona is a construct of a what men want in a male dominated field. She was pushed into being a sex symbol because that is what sells. Yes, she is successful at making money. Thats about it. And NO I don’t think girls should pattern themselves after a woman like her.

    • ieshapatterson

      lol sad part is too MANY women,call what minaj does “empowering” they claim that she’s doing her and she’s in control of her life.not only that,she’s happy doing what she does and anyone who speaks against her,is jealous aka a hater.but at the end of the day,she’s only fooling herself.she’ll be gone as quickly as she came.

      • We can all hope!

        • ieshapatterson

          lol true.

  • Guest360

    I see nothing wrong with inspiring little girls (especially little black girls) to be like a Michelle rather than a Nicki. She’s more than the FLOTUS. She came from nothing but managed to put herself through law school, has worked in law firms, maintains her license to practice law, has worked in government positions and universities, and did so through hardwork and a great deal of intelligence. She’s a great woman, raising great kids, and does so with a level of grace that just isn’t shown too often when black women are portrayed in the media. I’m sure Nicki is a great business woman. You’d have to be make the money she is and to keep doing so. However, HOW she’s conducting her business is through means that as black women we struggle to not have attached to us. Ratchet, angry, and disrespectful both to herself and certainly to others. No we should never tell our little girls to strive to be like people in the media but if you had to pick one, I see nothing wrong with that choice being a woman who’s achieved a great deal in life through self-respect and by using her brain rather than coochie popping, starting fights, and being raunchy..

    • Thank YOU!

    • Suchalady

      There it is.

    • Mona Lisa

      Yes! Yes! Yes!

    • mac

      perfectly stated.

    • IllyPhilly

      Best. Comment. Ever.

  • ANTMilf

    Thank you whoever wrote this article. I’m a mother of a 5 year old daughter myself and I want her to grow up educated, respectful, following her dreams (she wants to be a doctor) and have a better life than I had, not to be like a Michelle or DEFINITELY not a Nicki!

    • If your daughter wants to be an doctor than she is aspiring to be like Michelle who graduated from a ivy league school went to law school was an attorney and Dean of students at a university she is not just the first lady.

      • ANTMilf

        But my daughter has no clue who Michelle Obama is, she wanted to be a doctor because she’s a fan of Doc McStuffins show on Disney Junior Channel.

        • GG25

          Your daughter doesn’t know who First Lady Michelle Obama is ?

          • ANTMilf

            She’s 5 years old, HELLO! I was 5 when I didn’t know who Regan was when he was president in 1987!

        • MrsB

          If your daughter doesn’t know who Michelle Obama is but is aware of some fictitious character on TV, its more on YOU than her.

          • ANTMilf

            Please, I was my daughter’s age when I didn’t know who Reagan was, so STFU! I don’t let my 5 YO child watch the news because of the negativity so don’t judge me!

            • MrsB

              Ok, I see you became offended and missed the point entirely. I apoligize if you feel as if im judging you but If you didn’t know about the president when you were five then that’s on YOUR mother. Sorry the truth hurts. Its up to you to educate your child. I never said sit he/she down in front of the 6:00 news and let them learn that way. That was idiotic for you to even mention, but you can explain whats going on in the world on a level your child can comprehend. You obviously don’t realize the how historical and important this is to OUR heritage.

        • I commented on yours but its more of a general comment for the article that they only portray her as the first lady. Im pretty sure you want to raise her to be an educated woman

          • ANTMilf

            Is it mandatory by law that I have to teach my daughter who the first lady is at 5? NO! Is child welfare gonna take my child away for not knowing who the first lady is? NO! Have a nice day, I’m done with judgmental a$$ black folks.

            • From what I read nobody was judging you. I can tell you now that they are right. What you instill in your daughter no matter how young will stick with her. At 5 years old why does she not know that Barack Obama is the first black president and That Michelle Obama is the First Lady? That is a MAJOR part of History and it something you should be more then happy to teach her. You don’t have to Make her watch the News to teach her these things. You can print out pictures and show them to her and then explain to her who they are and what they do. But as a mother you should feel simple as f u c k for not teaching your child such a major part of history… Now that was me judging you… and I don’t really give a flying f u c k if you get mad. Slap your self 5 times for thinking that you’re doing her any favors by not teaching her who the gotdayum president is

        • If your 5 year old does not know who her first lady is but knows some made up character slap yourself 5 times. Anyone can make money if they have the right hustle. Our young women need role models who will teach them to respect and love themselves. Not someone who will do something strange 4 a piece of change. There are many self respecting women out here famous and regular ol’ women who they can admire. Sidenote: Nikki and others like her always make me think of pecola in the bluest eye.

          • ANTMilf

            You have no right to judge me, I don’t let her watch the news because of negativity on there, you people act like I let her watch TV 24/7! I didn’t know who President Reagan or his wife is at 5 years old in 1987, are you gonna judge my parents now?! I’m sure my daughter’s classmates don’t know who Michelle Obama is. The last thing I am is a bad parent!

  • Nope

    Thank you!