Performing Feminism, Performing Testimony: Female Rap Artists from Latin America
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Crossing lines is one of the premises of hip hop in general and, especially, of female rap artists. Hip hop as an artistic expression crosses the lines between poetry and music. Femcees cross the line by entering a predominantly male genre, which has been harshly criticised for its sexist lyrics and performances. The femcees cross even more lines when seizing hip hop for their feminist agenda, defying thus the image of women propagated in this genre. Since as early as the mid-1990s, women all over the Latin American continent have been joining the hip hop scenes, but it is only in the recent years that their voices are starting to be heard. Apart from being art, hip hop fulfils multiple functions: it constitutes a public space for subaltern voices, it embodies the performativity of the feminist struggle against patriarchy as well as the performativity of testimony. In their lyrics, the femcees address numerous subjects, such as state repression, social inequalities, armed conflicts as well as gender-based violence, feminicide, homophobia and racism. This contribution aims to analyse how the femcees perform their struggle against patriarchal structures, on the on hand, and how they perform testimony of their experiences and lives, on the other hand, through hip hop. Furthermore, it is an objective to determine how hip hop lyrics and performances eventually become a place of memory for female realities in Latin America in the 21st century. Youtube videos by femcees from Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Guatemala and Argentina, amongst others, constitute the object of investigation. Aspects studied are the use of images and the femcees’ self-representation in the videos as well as the testimony in the lyrics itself.