Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Beyonce, a Feminist?


December 13, 2013, Beyonce dropped an album with no promotion.  This took the world by storm.  The self-titled album, Beyonce, is different from anything that Beyonce has ever done.  One of the main differences is it's sexuality.  Beyonce no longer just wears sparkly onesies to show off her feminine figure.  In this newest album, she paints you a picture of her sexuality. 

Don't believe me? Here is a snippet from the single Blow:
"Can you lick my skittles?
That's the sweetest in the middle
Pink that's the flavor
Solve the riddle"
And let's not forget what will soon become a classic verse:
 "I can't wait to get home so you can tear that cherry out, turn that cherry out, turn that cherry out."
Tear that cherry out?  Sounds extremely painful.

My favorite place to find out what is going on in the world, HuffPost Live, recently had a segment about Beyonce being a feminist.  I was surprised this conversation even came up.  Beyonce is a lot of things: performer, business woman, mother, so on and so forth.  But feminist? 

I feel like the segment I reference above didn't really answer the question about her being a feminist.  I felt like they just praised her for 30 minutes about her being able to drop an album without promotion and about how they didn't want white feminist talking about her.  But they did say some interesting things:  they said her album is "sexually liberating" and it represents "loving your body". 

Why in the last 10 years has feminism been about getting naked in public?  Why is posing nude or doing a video semi-nude feminism?  How is that really helping me as a woman?  How is that helping the younger generation of women? 

Earlier this year when Miley Cyrus twerked (and I use that term loosely) she became a joke on every late night talk show.  No one said that she was taking back a woman's power to choose by rubbing her rear end on Robin Thicke.  But when Beyonce sings about oral sex being performed on her, she is liberating women everywhere?  When rappers choose to put willing naked women in their videos they are demonized.  When Beyonce bares flesh she is teaching women to love their curves?  Nicki Minaj shows her curves and apparently she's setting women back a few years.

In an article for Vice, Kara Brown writes that feminism might mean different things for different women.  I do not recognize myself as a feminist, but I can get how one woman's fight could be against sexual harassment in the workplace but another woman's fight could be about rape culture in the military.  Both of these issues effect women tremendously.   However, can someone please explain to me how Beyonce showing off her curves in every video or singing explicitly about the activities in her bedroom with her husband helps me?  The fact that Beyonce has no problem singing about how she puts its down on Jay-Z is not helping me break the glass ceiling in the business world.  What I'm saying is I always thought that feminism was about moving women further.  How has the album, Beyonce, moved women as a whole further? 

Before the Beyhive attacks me let me just say this post is not to bash Beyonce or her album.  Beyonce has really stepped out of her comfort zone for this album.  And it would be a lie to say that she is not one of the most influential artist right now.  But as much I love to work out to her music, it's hard for me to see her as a feminist even if she herself identifies as one.  I think we have to ask the question how has Bey moved women further and the answer has to be more than dropped an album without promotion.

What are your thoughts on Beyonce being a feminist?

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