#FeminismToMe: Rapper and Linguist Lady Bitch Ray on Female Empowerment in German Hip-Hop
Reyhan Şahin, AKA Lady Bitch Ray, breaks down narratives of female sexual objectification in hip-hop, and places female desire in the spotlight of her art instead. On October 10, 2018, Şahin will discuss her role as a musician and scholar using two of her songs, analyzing them from an intersectional-feminist point of view.
© Carlos Fernandez Laser
The daughter of Turkish guest-workers, Reyhan Şahin (AKA Lady Bitch Ray)
was born in Bremen, Germany. After graduating from high school, she began a career as a radio presenter. As Lady Bitch Ray, she started releasing songs in 2007 under her label Vagina Style Records. Her style characterized itself through explicitly-sexualized language and conceptual outfits. She was the first to stand up to the hitherto male-dominated hip-hop scene in Germany – a genre in which women are often primarily objects of male pleasure or are otherwise subjugated to patriarchy. This form of self-empowerment arose in the United States during the 1990s with women like Lil‘ Kim, and has today entered the mainstream with artists like Nicki Minaj. In 2008, however, when Lady Bitch Ray appeared on many talk shows in Germany, she was the German-Turkish pioneer who introduced the term „Bitch“ as a positively reinterpreted (or positively reclaimed) self-designation in German hip-hop. While many of her songs and her provocative performances are celebrated, many have not recognized Lady Bitch Ray’s work as a celebration of one’s own female sexuality.
In 2012 Lady Bitch Ray successfully defended her dissertation with the topic “The Meaning of the Muslim headscarf in Germany.” In 2016 she completed her postdoctoral project on religious depictions of Muslim people on social networking platforms.
This evening is a part of our #FeminismToMe hashtag campaign. With this hashtag, we are collecting personal definitions of feminism on Instagram. The social media campaign is the overarching theme of a series of events, in which we give different voices of the feminist movement a platform at Goethe-Institut Washington.
Moderated by Hester Baer,
Associate Professor and Head of Germanic Studies at the University of Maryland