I really need to clear some things up for everyone and set the record straight.
For many, Queen Bey can do no wrong. She sings, she dances, she wakes up flawless. But many others have called into question the sexy songstress’s lyrics due to anti-feminist sentiments and have even accused her of encouraging domestic violence by directly referencing Tina and Ike Turner’s marriage. In order to counteract this bad publicity, Beyonce recently performed at the VMAs with the word FEMINIST in large letters behind her. Most of social media regarded this as an excellent endeavor to ward off the “haters.”
But let’s be real. Posting a sign behind you makes you as much a feminist as sticking a Post-It note to my forehead with the word “Beyonce” written on it makes me talented and famous.
That is to say, not at all.
However, despite Beyonce’s best intentions, I still have to come to her defense. I, personally, do not partake much in Ms. uhm…Z’s music, but I am a feminist in my own rite. And I know one when I see one.
Now, I can understand Beyonce’s hesitation in declaring herself a feminist because unfortunately, like many “isms” out there, most people associate feminism with its most extreme form. However, feminism, at its core, means that women and men are equal. If you are a feminist, it simply means that you support the idea that men and women should be equal. Which is to say, all women, all races, all abilities, all sexualities, all religions should be able to make as much money, receive the same opportunities, and be perceived by all of society as equal. Notice that I did not anywhere make a claim that the world should be ruled by a bunch of amazon women overlords with no bras. We just want our fair share of the world. What is rightfully ours, as people of this earth.
If you’ll stay with me, I’m going to describe my own belief in feminism because like feminists, like people, there are many schools of thoughts and different opinions about the subject. This is why you probably don’t think you’re a feminist because what you may believe may not conform to current feminist thinking. But if you want to find out, just answer this question: do you believe women are and should be treated like people? Then, congratulations! You’re feminist positive!
Now, my own idea of feminism is centered upon empowering women. Every single woman. Even if I personally don’t like what they stand for, I will defend their right to stand for it.
Take Taylor Swift. She is giving dorky white women a horrible reputation. As a dorky white woman, I recognize this. But I will absolutely support her when she decides to dance awkwardly (and repeatedly) at her concerts. This is because I recognize that we shouldn’t be putting other women down. And it isn’t women against men, either. It’s people striving to make this the best world they possibly can.
So, when I see Beyonce up on stage with FEMINIST written in big letters behind her, well, I support her. But do I believe her?
Yes, I do. Because there is another aspect to feminism outlined in The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. It is called the “cult of domesticity.” This essentially meant that all women had to stay home and clean and make dinner and not pursue careers. But not only that, they had to act interested in the best vacuum and window cleaners. As if these activities were all they were capable of doing.
Now, do not confuse me. I know plenty of women who do not work so that they can stay home to take care of their families. This is a respectable choice, and I have nothing against it. However, there was a time, not so long ago, in the 1950’s when women did not have a choice. They had to stay home, period. At the time, having a career was revolutionary and outlandish thinking and wholeheartedly discouraged.
So, if we fast forward to when this all changed and when women began to enter the work force, around the 1980’s, there became a new problem when society began to ask: could women raise a healthy, happy family and still work a 9-5? Nothing was said about how the men would manage, but these issues were suddenly heavy on the shoulders of women. Were they being selfish pursuing careers instead of their children’s future? Could women ever have it both ways?
And after this extensive history lesson, this is where Beyonce comes in. Listen closely because this is my point: Beyonce is a feminist, whether she knows it or wants to admit it. Why? Because she has managed to do what most women thought was impossible only thirty years ago: balance a (really successful) career with a family. She did not stop making music when she had her child. She found a way to do both, which, admittedly is not very hard when you are rich, beautiful, and talented like Beyonce. But as far as feminist role models go, there are worse. Way, way worse.
In the end, Beyonce’s tale is one of “follow what I do, not what I say.” Maybe if women stopped yelling at each other for stealing one another’s “man,” maybe girls could really “run the world.” In the meantime, you don’t have to sing along to Beyonce’s songs, but you should respect her.