Tyina Steptoe, PhD, an author and associate professor at the University of Arizona, says the ebbs and flows of gender and sex politics would affect the trajectory of women in music for decades, but national events and movements like the civil rights movement, which centered respectability, would cause the next hard shift.
Jackson says her mother’s influence on women and even hip-hop artists like Lil’ Kim and Nikki Minaj is sealed because her music taught women real lessons.
By the 1980s, the late soul singer Betty Wright had moved from singing about the double standard between men and women (in 1968’s “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do”) to her first time making love (“Tonight Is the Night”) to recognizing the woman who could take your man (“Cleanup Woman”).
The late ’80s through the 2000s would bring more songs that took men to task while banding women together: Gwen Guthrie’s “Ain’t Nothing Going on But the Rent,” Salt-N-Pepa’s “Tramp,” TLC’s “No Scrubs,” Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills,” and Kelis’ “Caught Out There (I Hate You So Much Right Now),” among others.
“What this speaks to is that Black women have used music for a very long time as expressions of our role in society, who we are, and what’s important to us.”