Lil’ Kim, My Feminist Hero

Without realising it as I danced and sang along to Lil’ Kim’s lyrics at the age of thirteen, I had found my first feminist role model. An unlikely candidate perhaps for a Scottish Pakistani teenager, but at the time Lil’ Kim’s music perfectly encapsulated my feelings of gender-imprisoned rage, as well as delightfully shocking me with its audacity.

At that time, I had not long been dramatically freed from the terrifying misery experienced by all too many young girls and women living under strict regimes of Islamic domestic dictatorship. If I were asked to imagine the polar opposite of feminine propriety as imposed by my parents, I couldn’t have dreamt Lil’ Kim up. She got naked a lot. She rapped in graphic detail about sex, once to the background sound of a woman having a looooong, loud orgasm. And she did it all in public. In short, she didn’t give a fuck.

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On Beauty

There are some days when I would like nothing more than to hide my face from the world and be free of the incredible pressures most women face in their relationship with their own body. In recent weeks, I’ve felt more weary than usual of being seen simply as a style of woman rather than a person. You ladies know what I mean, right? Are you the fun, leggy blond? Ice cool designer diva? Crazy punk princess? I could, of course, go on. And most of you who dare convey personality traits that don’t adhere to the image portrayed by your clothes, accessories and make-up (unless of course you are of the equally carefully constructed yet apparently au naturel variety) have come across that ignoramous who gasps, “You’re so different to how I expected you to be!” Well, duh, what makes you think you know a person when you’ve shown zero curiosity about my experience of the world?!

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