I read a kickass article earlier today by Arielle Loren on Clutch Magazine about whether Beyonce is the face of contemporary feminism. Obviously, there were a lot of people who disagreed with the idea that Beyonce is anything remotely related to feminism. However, Ms. Loren was steadfast in her commitment to this idea, and wrote an additional post further describing her position on her personal blog.
Ms. Loren’s premise seems to boil down to this sentiment:
“Does Beyonce represent every woman? Absolutely, not. She caters to a particular feminine side of our gender and those who aren’t afraid to wear sexual confidence on their sleeves.”
Which I can understand, to a certain extent, since Beyonce is pretty much a sex symbol. And not much else. But this seems to be examining Beyonce from a superficial standpoint: her videos and her dance moves. Beyonce is about sexual empowerment because she’s predominantly half-naked in her videos and has no issues showing off her body.
But the problem with Beyonce is the fact that empowerment is more than just imagery. It’s about the message, and Beyonce isn’t saying anything. In fact, most of her song lyrics (if not all of them) are about how she caters to men (ie: Cater 2 U) or her overall relationship with men (ie: Single Ladies or Irreplaceable). The thing about feminism is that it’s ideally supposed to represent all women, including those who don’t identify as straight.
Unlike Lady Gaga (ie: Born This Way) or Christina Aguliera (ie: Beautiful) who have openly supported the LGBT community in their music, Beyonce has not. And to me, it’s rather troublesome to consider someone a feminist when they’re really only representing a very specific minority of women. Feminism is about everyone being equal; not just women, and especially not just sexually active, heterosexual women.
So what kind of feminism would exist for women who pledge celibacy or abstinence? What about asexual women? The problem with sexual empowerment is that by the very act of being a girl, you’re considered a sexual object. In what way does flaunting one’s sexuality make or break already existing cultural norms? I disagree with this idea that exalting one’s sexuality leads to anything more than having an excuse to wear skimpy clothing and not be judged for it.
There’s a very fine line between sexual empowerment and exploitation/objectification. I could make a case that Beyonce merely exploits herself because sex sells, and because it’s easier than writing good music when you have nice dance moves. Beyonce, as an artist, is without depth. She doesn’t challenge popular ideas with her music, instead, she panders to what already exists. For example, she talks about girls running the world, but feminism is about equal opportunity, not dominance. However, popular misconception about women is that we need to run the world in order to be accepted as humans and have a fair shot, which isn’t true.
Feminism is about opening people’s minds and having them realize that we can have a world that’s quite unlike the one we live in now.
So, yeah, some women might really want to be the next Beyonce but she’s anything but a feminist, and shouldn’t be associated with such.