This article maps the gender politics of ‘breakdancing’ (‘breaking’) culture, one of the ‘four elements’ of hip-hop culture. It focuses on three key assumptions: that women do not, and have not, participate(d) in breaking because it is a dance style and culture reserved only for men; that the work needed to challenge breaking’s gender disparity should be done by women; and that the prevalence online of successful international ‘b-girls’ (women who break) means that breaking no longer has gender-based inequalities. The discussion draws on ethnographic research, including participant-observation, semi-structured interviews, and online media case studies, which are analysed through a feminist lens. The article will demonstrate that breaking’s history, and contemporary practices, contain the achievements of b-girls within patriarchal structures and normalize the continued hegemony of the b-boy. It argues that discussions of visibility must avoid individualizing politics reflective of a ‘post-feminist’ era and not discount the patriarchal structures in which hip-hop culture is entrenched.
|Journal||Feminist Media Studies|
|Publication status||Submitted - 2019|