Yes, Beyonce is fly, fierce, fabulous and famous, but is she a feminist? Last night on Piers Morgan Tonight, Beyonce chatted with the CNN talk show host about her new album, motherhood, marriage, turning 30 and being a diva. Wearing a lovely tangerine shift dress Beyonce did not utter the F-word, but she did edge close when she stated, “It is my job to empower women.” Hmmph, sounds a bit like feminist rhetoric to me.
On Sunday, the 29-year old Texan became the first African-American woman, actually the first WOMAN, period, to headline England’s supa dupa Glastonbury Festival. Ever since her Destiny’s Child days Bey has been bout it-bout it when it comes to empowering women. From Bootylicious to Independent Woman to Single Ladies, Ms. Tina’s daughter has offered up some serious you-go-girl grooves. So say what you want about her blond-ambition weaves, her regrettable blackface magazine cover and her (high)lightened Loreal ads, but you can’t deny that B makes music that inspires us ladies.
Her most recent song, Run The World (Girls), however, has some women (and men) up in arms. Beyonce is being accused of taking her grrrl power songs too far—like over the cute pink boundaries of Spice Girl rah-rah and into the more serious, political, and academic terrain of bell hooks and Gloria Steinem. It’s one thing to be proud of your booty and also of not having a ring put on it, but it’s an entirely different Prada bag when you declare girls are running things, particularly the world and particularly if you are doing so while wearing stilettos:
“Beyonce suggests that women, just on the strength of their hyper-femininity, will rise again under her glamorous leadership and create a New World Order. Such a message, when reduced to sexual spectacle and performed before a threatening-yet-objectifying male audience, is hard to take seriously.”
If you agree with Ms. Magazine, then it seems when it comes to revolution and creating New World Orders, the chick in the video wearing lingerie and doing the stanky-leg needs to step aside and let Mona Eltahawy and Michelle Obama figure things out. Clearly for them, there’s no way you can (simultaneously) be a feminist, be sexy and salute men. Feminists burn bras, they don’t flaunt them in music videos and God forbid that they like men, right? I find this kind of thinking small, narrow and boring. It’s like Women’s Studies for Dummies circa 1976.
Beyonce said something else that I loved when she admitted: “It’s an appropriate time to be a diva.” I so wish that Piers would have followed-up with a question about why now, but alas the bloke was too busy drooling. Well today as she releases her fourth studio album, 4, I can’t help but be happy that Beyonce is embracing her inner diva and saying it’s okay to be Sasha Fierce even off stage. With women still getting the shaft when it come to fair pay, when women are still being blamed for causing their own rape (even when they are intoxicated) and domestic abuse (Rihanna) and when AIDS is still a top killer of Black women and ad agencies are still creating ads like this, I have no problem being a diva myself and embracing Beyonce as a feminist. Now run that!