She’s the leading lady of super group Destiny’s Child, she’s sold more records than your Grandma has sewing patterns (ie. lots) and is ‘World’s Most Beautiful Woman’ according to People Magazine (2012). That’s right, I’m talking about Beyoncé Flipping Knowles, y’all.
It was only a matter of time before I devoted an ENTIRE blog post to the goddess herself. I’d been toying with the idea for a while, wondering if there was a way I could dress up a post consisting of unadulterated adoration to make it last 700 words but I just couldn’t do it. I knew the thin veil of lust would have been penetrated by the critical eye of those reading and I gave up; I decided that maybe my obsession should remain private. Maybe it simply had no place on a feminist blog. UNTIL NOW.
The more observant among you (ie. the hardcore Beyoncé followers) will have noticed that Beyoncé’s feminist credentials have become under fire recently. In a nutshell, there’s been somewhat of a media frenzy about the extent to which Beyoncé is entitled to wear a feminist crown with pride. This all came about because she, in a seemingly contradictory move, spoke about equality whilst posing for GQ in her knickers. Even though my fascination with her is pretty much impenetrable, I have to say it made me think. Once I’d finished thinking (and also snapped out of my Super Bowl related coma) I got a little bit maddened by the accusations. I will now explain in five neat little points why I felt maddened.
- Beyoncé has never written a book on how to be a feminist. She is not the mayor of Feminist Land and is not feminism’s answer to Jesus. It is simply unfortunate for Beyoncé that we women have decided that she is some kind of godly being sent from Heaven to save us from our oppression. It is unfortunate for Beyoncé that she is unfathomably talented and we mere mortals want her to have the answers for our existentialist angst.
- If the women’s movement has given us anything, it’s choice. It is an area grey-er than a summer’s day in England, but the fact of the matter is Beyoncé doesn’t seem like the kind of woman to be pushed into anything. This does not mean it is OK to say this to your stripper friend when she’s sobbing into her nipple tassles, ie. ‘Don’t worry Chanelle, Beyoncé wears this stuff all the time! Now put those crotchless pants back on- you’re an independent woman!’ Again, it is not Beyoncé’s problem that society can’t see the difference between wearing sexy clothes because you WANT to (in the context of a sell-out tour or million dollar music video) and doing it because you believe your entire worth depends on it.
- Women are all different. This intersectional concept covers an crucial problem of feminism; in-fighting. Some feminists think you shouldn’t wear bras because they are oppressive, whereas I think that might be a little bit obscene when wearing a white shirt to work. You see, because of the plethora of backgrounds which make up the human race, at times we might have disagreements about things. This is called life.
- No, her songs are not ALL feminist anthems. Sometimes people like certain songs, sometimes people don’t. This is because there are millions of people in the world and thus there may be times that you don’t love every single lyric in every single song. I, for example, tend to avoid listening to ‘Cater to You’ because Beyoncé comes across as being slightly on the doormat end of the sexism spectrum. Again, it’s not Beyoncé’s problem that she wanted to sing about running a bath for her ‘beau’ whilst I think my ‘beau’ should have a shower and get over himself. On the other hand, she does dedicate a song to women running the world, and although she is factually incorrect (ie. we don’t run the world) the thought was there. I believe what Beyoncé wanted was to provide women a song to sing along to whilst burning their cheating boyfriend’s clothes. Everyone needs a theme song for that kind of thing.
- Maybe if we spent less time deciding whether Beyoncé is living up to our personal ideal of feminism and more time campaigning for gender equality we could start actually making some real progress.