Beyonce Flawless

By now you’ve heard all about Beyoncé’s record-breaking, self-titled album and what it means to black women, black women feminists, and feminists as a whole.

While many have taken to their social media accounts to beat the “Bey is a feminist!” drum (myself included), others have taken a different view, choosing to withhold the title of “feminist” from a woman who seems happy to twerk for her husband, and the public at large, while he spits lyrics that hint at the possibility of an ass whooping, Anna Mae.

I get it. The stealth album drop. Breaking the Internet. The brilliant Chimananda Ngozie Adichi clip. The body rolls. The jizz on ball gowns. It all seems like a schizophrenic ode to excess, sex, patriarchy, love, freedom, and yes, even feminism.

And while you will find 1,980,000 results if you Google Beyoncé + Feminism (seriously) that stake claims on every side of the debate imaginable, I’m just downright tired of talking about.

I’ll admit. I went on my own “isn’t feminism about choice???” rant on Twitter over the weekend, dedicating several tweets not just to Beyoncé’s right to call herself a feminist, but also to the movement that continually tries to define itself by excluding those who don’t fit within its narrow boundaries.

As a self-identified feminist, I often talk about why so many of my sisters do not and will not identify with feminism because they feel it does not speak to the issues of black and brown women. Whenever I bring up feminism or being feminist, inevitably I hear, “That’s white people’s sh*t.”

And when you add on respectability politics, and the fact that black women who speak openly about sex and their sexuality are often viewed as shameless whores who are disgracing themselves and the race, ish gets really real.

So I get it.

Beyonce coming out as a feminist, or even mentioning feminism in a very explicit way, on an album that changed the music industry is a big damn deal. And people want to talk about it.

But for how long?

Brittney Cooper, writing for Salon, attempts to explain why Beyoncé’s foray into feminism has caused such a stir:

Beyoncé means a lot to us. She triggers a lot for us: about desire and beauty and skin color politics and access and being chosen and being the cool kid. Because representations of black female subjectivity are so paltry in pop culture, the mainstream doesn’t know that we struggle with this kinda shit, too. Nerdy girls resent the popular pretty girls. We grow up to become feminists who are beautiful in our own right, to critique patriarchy and challenge desire. And we have a sort of smugness that says, the pretty girl who gets the guy can have all that, but she can’t be radical. That Beyoncé would even want to means she has stepped out of her lane, and lanes matter greatly.

Whitney Teal takes it a step further in her piece for XOJane, writing:

Ultimately, what makes “Beyoncé” so important isn’t necessarily what she’s saying—that she is sexual and loving and super-successful and you bitches better deal—because that’s been said before (Janet Jackson’s similarly freaky-deaky self-titled album, for one), but rather that it’s Beyoncé, of all people, saying it. A woman who never takes credit for her success, who looks blankly while being insulted, who created a whole other alter ego just a few years ago so that she could sing about popping her pussy without ridicule.

… “Beyoncé” is the most feminist piece of mainstream art I’ve consumed this year and maybe ever…It’s women’s empowerment for a group that doesn’t get a lot of it in media and needs it more. It’s feminism for women who are taught that patriarchy will get you to heaven. It’s feminism for women who don’t care to rhapsodize about whatever mainstream feminism’s issue of the day happens to be because they’ve got their own, separate issues. It’s the feminism of lived experience.

I understand we live in a new, hypercritical world where every move a pop star or politician or celebrity makes is scrutinized and written about ad nauseam, but is this a good thing? Or are we merely just listening to our own voices and actually damaging the relationships between communities—feminists and non-feminists, black women and white women, feminist of color and white feminists—that we need to be strengthening?

At what point do we just sit back and enjoy the album—or not—without trying to philosophize and dissect about what it all REALLY means?

Hopefully we’ll reach that point soon, so I can go back to focusing on how to perfect Bey’s twang when she sings, “EYE been drankin…EYE been thanking…” cuz, yeah…I need get that together. 

Tags: ,
Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter
  • Truth

    I agree with you to an extent. Half measures are something I don’t abide by in my daily life, but there are times when I have no other choice. I think that’s the contradictory nature in all people. As much as I hate patriarchy, I’m willing to admit that I have enjoyed a few of its benefits. I get that we place high standards on folks with celebrity influence, but I don’t think we should. It’s the flip side of the coin where we hate that our young people(I was one of ’em) are so enamored with pop culture, but in the same breath we elevate celebrities in the same manner when they fall short of our expectations and ask them to do better. Admittedly Beyonce brought some of this on herself with her convoluted proclamations of feminist ideals. But, should we expect more of influential entertainers than we expect of ourselves?! I honestly don’t think so.

    I brought up the colorism/social class issue because I do think that’s a very unfortunate a real problem that a lot of folks have with Beyonce. Yeah, she’s way overexposed and I do tire of seeing her, but it’s deeper than that for some of our sisters. I, too, am aware of my light-skinned privilege so I felt like it needed to be addressed.

  • I find it sad that we are talking about a pop star who has everything market tested when there are real people out there walking the walk. Man, our priorities are really misplaced.

  • originaleve

    Beyonce is, beautiful, talented, ambitious, successful and driven but she is not a feminist. Beyonce is a Capitalist. Nothing wrong with being a capitalist. Capitalism is the heart and soul of this country. Being successful at making money is what we live and breathe in this country.

    With that being said, beautiful, talented and ambitious as she is Beyonce has never stood on the front line of anything other than making her money. I take no issue with that go ahead girl make your money … you work hard you deserve it.

    I’ve never heard an articulate statement from Beyonce regarding black women and the AIDS epidemic. Never heard Beyonce address black teen pregnancy. Never heard or read anything about her views on domestic abuse or violence towards women. Never read or heard anything from Beyonce about the high infant mortality rate of black babies. Never read or heard her make a statement regarding the increasing numbers of incarcerated black and Hispanic women. Never heard or read a statement from Beyonce about the increasing number of missing and exploited girls and women. Never read or heard Beyonce’s point-of-view regarding illiteracy and low graduation rates of black and Hispanic youth. Never heard or read a statement regarding gang violence and the affect on the youth in black and Hispanic communities. Never heard or read anything she articulated on transgender issues or equal and civil rights for the LGBT community. Nothing articulated about the impact of drugs on the black community. Nothing about the criminalization of black youth. No statements about the stop and frisk policy…. nothing… not even a breast cancer promo …. nothing … No wellness or Public Service announcement about childhood obesity or how diabetes and high blood pressure kills black folks. No concerns about the housing market collapse and the effect on black folk. No thought from her and the impact of joblessness in the black community. Nothing !!!

    Granted Ms. Knowles-Carter doesn’t haven’t to speak nor does she owe anyone or anybody anything.

    But if you want to stand for something then you have to STAND for something.

    Beyonce’s foray into highlighting her sexual freedom and liberation is nothing new. Naked gyrating, hip and butt shaking women abound throughout the ages. Naked gyrating women are painted on cave walls. Naked gyrating women are carved in stone throughout the world.

    I guess Ms. Knowles-Carter feels as long as she is okay with and in charge of slinging her ass it’s okay so that makes it feminist…. I guess.

    Just call it what it is… stop trying to make it more than what it is. An entertainer is an entertainer is an entertainer. No more no less. .

  • me

    Beyonce is one lucky girl. She gets to constantly contradict herself with the Virgin whore dichotomy in speech and visuals while most of the world eats it up. I have taken a plethora of women’s studies and sociology courses to know that beyonce is definitely not one. She objectifies herself at every point. Which feminist married a jay-z? Think about it. Today I read a quote about the person who loves you is a direct reflection of who you are. Why would someone so sweet so wholesome so classy so righteous so secure with a solid family dedicate themselves to a man like him? with beyonce nothing adds up. We’ll no that’s not true. It adds up that she caresabout about vanity and the ROOT ALL EVIL. Money . she is behaving in a way that I’ve only seen at the strip club and her songs are filthy. How are you creating balance between men and women when everything you are doing is putting you in the position to be only valued for.. Your body. HOW DUMB ARE BEYONCE FANS. Beyonce fans are nothing but sheep. So dumb. Whatever yonce tells them they believe. I bet they didn’t listen to their teachers or parents with that much trust. DUMB SHEEP DON’T QUESTION. But of course her fans are just as dunce as she is. Those pics of her in the thong in the chair bent over in a sexual position is something that should be private. You can’t know about her wedding or engagement but you can learn all about her sex life on her nasty album.