When we waxed poetic about D’Angelo‘s struggle with his image as a sex symbol, more than a few commenters argued there was a gender double standard at work. To them, it seemed unfair to sympathize with the beleaguered male artist when female celebrities are regularly reduced to their physicality and no one complains that their music is being overshadowed. Evette Dionne explored the issue for Uptown magazine, comparing two of the most talked-about sex symbols of late, Beyoncé and D’Angelo.
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, who happens to be one of my favorite women singers, prances around stage in just enough clothing to cover her most sacred parts as she belts about empowerment anthems. [...] Yet, Beyoncé hasn’t complained about how salivating her image is or what men fawning over her does to her self-esteem off-stage. “I’m tired of being objectified,” has never crossed her lips, so why does D’Angelo, who sang about the importance of love while twirling naked in a video, receive a reprieve?
It’s fascinating to examine how Beyoncé seems to capitalize off the very image that D’Angelo is now working hard to abandon. She flaunts her small waist, curvy hips, abs, décolletage, and long weave so boldly it’s become a part of her brand. Yet she doesn’t complain or shy away from the spotlight because she feels she’s being undervalued as an artist. One could say the same about Mariah Carey or Janet Jackson’s careers. It’s as if female R&B singers expect to be objectified by men so they accept it, and even capitalize off it, without complaining.