By now you’ve heard that the typically family-friendly tourist attract, Madame Tussauds, has had to bolster security at its Las Vegas location in light of several visitors essentially dry humping its newest attraction, a Nicki Minaj wax figure.
Addressing the matter on Twitter, the location notes that it has “been made aware of the inappropriate photograph” taken and that, “it is unfortunate that this visitor decided to behave so inappropriately and we apologize for any offence this has caused.” There has been criticism over the statute – Nicki Minaj on all fours as seen in her video for “Anaconda” – and whether it is appropriate. Also speaking on Twitter, Azealia Banks said, “As much as that woman has accomplished, they had to put her on all fours… Why not standing up with a mic in her hand???”
And writing at The Guardian, Jonathan Jones argued, “Madame Tussauds could have avoided catastrophe if only its staff knew their ancient history.” Apparently, men behaving badly with statues has long been a thing. Of course, Nicki Minaj herself has been criticized, with some accusing her of speaking on sexism and racism when it only relates to her career. However, Minaj has spoken out about the death of Sandra Bland and when asked about Eric Garner’s tragic death, told Rolling Stone, “It’s gotten to the point where people feel like there’s no accountability: if you are law enforcement and you do something to a black person, you can get away with it.”
Nicki Minaj may not be talking about racism enough to everyone’s liking, but she has not been silent. When it comes to sexism, however, it becomes more complicated. There has long been debate about whether or not the 32-year-old rapper’s overt sexuality is empowering or exploitation. She seems to often embrace the male gaze while routinely chastizing men for bad behavior. I’ve never personally thought one negated the other, but that same level of critique has now been applied to her wax figure.
In a separate statement to Fader, Madame Tussauds defended the wax figure’s on-all-fours pose. They write glowingly about all visuals attached to “Anaconda” while going on to note: “As with all people we immortalize in our attractions, her representatives were kept informed every step of the way during the figure-creation process and, once it was unveiled, Minaj herself repeatedly expressed her love of the figure on social media, calling the display ’so iconic’ and indicating her desire to come see it in person.”
This is not surprising given there is nothing I’ve ever seen Nicki Minaj do or say that felt unintentional. Nicki Minaj has said she loves the statute, dubbing it “iconic” and has even posted pictures of men fondling her statute — seemingly amused. It’s easy to understand why many would object to a woman – especially a Black woman – be so embracing of a hypersexualized image. That is a depiction of Black women that is all too common and typically done in order to demean Black women.
And yet, I don’t have the right to police Nicki Minaj’s behavior and how she chooses to embrace her sexuality. Neither do you. It’s her prerogative, and in many ways, she’s damned if she do, damned if she don’t. If this is how she wants to be immortalized, such is her right. It doesn’t make her any less feminist nor should she be burdened by anyone else’s idea of how she should come across. Nicki Minaj is all about women doing whatever they want to do. This is another way of her living by example, as uncomfortable as it may make some people not named Nicki Minaj.