Beyonce. Queen Bey. Mrs. Carter. Sasha Fierce.
She’s had a successful career evolving through many labels from a fresh-faced teen in Destiny’s Child to matured international solo star. Beyonce’s musical ideology has always been a female-centric and her many of her duets have always been with strong women artists – great! Or not.
Beyonce has always been keen to emphasise her position as a successful woman and her feminine assets; after all she is an Independent Woman. I’m not saying that by omitting to burn bras, epilating effectively or forgetting to throw herself under horses for a cause that she’s somehow detrimental to the way we view gender roles and equality, but I am unnerved by the message she exudes from her privileged visibility in popular culture and the media.
In an interview with British Vogue, the former Miss Knowles said “I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.”
Just to put it out there, the ethos of feminism is not man-hating. Sorry to disappoint. But I will agree that she encompasses the problems of modern feminism; the lack of sisterhood. Disagree if you will, but no-one can deny that Destiny’s Child was fraught with in-fighting and fash-offs over who would have the most attention seeking outfit and the majority of camera time.
Beyonce is notoriously image conscious. She also wields a lot of control over her brand. The recent documentary ‘Life Is But A Dream’ unconsciously demonstrated how highly constructed this is despite attempting to humanise by protectively illustrating private events to achieve this. Why would she choose to wait and reveal these things – ones we never expected to hear about because of her maintained censorship? Obviously for monetary gain.
If Beyonce had wanted to speak about miscarriage and pregnancy, why not at the time to raise awareness and normalise the subject for hundreds and thousands of women who respect her and may have simultaneously be experiencing the same thing? This is the same woman who closed down an entire maternity unit to ensure the lack of encroachment by paparazzi but in the same move ensured other pregnant mothers would have their own births marred by diva demands. Where’s the solidarity?
Now. Lastly. I am a big fan of the way Beyonce has voiced pride and celebration of women’s curves. This is progressive. But, I cannot understand why she feels the need to lose her clothes to sell records. Sex sells, but isn’t Beyonce rich enough to bypass this requirement?
In an interview with GQ, she stated “I truly believe that women should be financially independent from their men. And let’s face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value. They define what’s sexy. And men define what’s feminine. It’s ridiculous.” Queen Bey then contradicted her values by posing nearly naked for a series of photos.
Beyonce is an identity filled with a conflicting duality – a self proclaimed ‘bitch’ in her music has transformed the carefree and empowering notion of Bootylicious into an aggressive sexuality, narcissism and selfish competitiveness that women must exude in order to Run The World.
On her current Mrs. Carter tour she donned a provocative nude bodysuit complete with visible nipples à la Ed Gein’s lady skin suit. It summed up completely the Beyonce dilemma, façades of women have defined her but they all clash and conflict leaving her position as a strong feminist icon doubtful
Beyonce is certainly not a role model for our daughters, but at least she’s a step on the ladder.