Is Beyonce a Feminist? Ask Her.


By Liz Everly

Once someone said to me that I couldn’t be a feminist if I was a mother. Once. But I’ve noticed sneers and rolling eyes among some of my hardcore feminist friends from time to time about my mothering. It used to anger me. But now, I see it’s really not worth the energy I would expend in debating with them.

Nobody gets to tell me what or who I am.

And I daresay nobody gets to tell Beyonce who or what she is.

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She is on the cover of Ms. Magazine this month, which has prompted this huge debate about if she has “feminist creds.” I ask you reader, just what the heck is “feminist creds” and who gets to come up with that list? A group of editors at Ms.?  A group of lawyers and PhDs at a think tank? How out of touch are these people with the every day reality of women everywhere? Women who have to make tough choices everyday, not just study and debate those choices.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a place for intellectuals in the feminist movement. There’s a place everybody, right?? Evidently some people think because Beyonce dresses provocatively and dances around on stage, she’s not a feminist. (We know what that’s about, right?) Once again, I ask who gets to decide that.  Who’s “qualified,” if not Beyonce herself?

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Feminism encompasses a wide spectrum of women from oh-so-many backgrounds, age groups, professions, and so on. I don’t know about your breed of feminism. But but for me the heart of feminism is about equality. Equal pay. Equal opportunity. Equal choices. It’s about inclusion. If a woman chooses to make a career singing and dancing because she’s talented and wants to express herself that way, I say bravo. I have no idea how Beyonce lives her life, other than through skewed lens of media, how am I to know the battles she’s fought in a (still) heavily male-dominated industry? How am I to know how she treats her own staff?

As an article in Bitch Magazine says, “A tiny top and a traditional marriage should not be enough to strip a woman otherwise committed to gender equality of the feminist mantle. If we all had pundits assessing our actions against a feminist litmus test, I reckon not even Gloria Steinem and bell hooks would pass muster. Women must be allowed their humanity and complexity. Even self-proclaimed feminists. Even Queen Beys.”

I say kudos to Beyonce for owning her sexuality, having a smart head about business, and standing up for what she believes in. What do you say?

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12 Comments

  • cmkempe
    May 21, 2013 at 6:17 am

    Turning the powerless on each other rather than on the roots of power is a longstanding divisive technique. Rather than argue ‘is X feminist?’ we should be identifying positive examples.

  • SL Johnson
    May 21, 2013 at 7:27 am

    O

  • SL Johnson
    May 21, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Of course she is – she is living her life and making her own decisions- isn’t that the whole point?

  • LizEverly
    May 21, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Reblogged this on Liz Everly and commented:

    Is Beyonce a Feminist?

    • madelineiva
      May 21, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      For some reason, that old-school second wave 70’s feminism just doesn’t feel comfortable aligning ideas like powerful woman = feminist. Especially within pop culture.

      And while it’s true that back in the day certain people (Queen Victoria for instance) were certainly very powerful but not feminist, I still find this attitude problematic.

      It’s as if they say: you can be powerful and feminist–but only if you check in with us first.

      It really turns me off.

      What I like about Beyonce is that there’s a Mr. Beyonce. There’s nothing wrong with a powerful successful women being alone–but there is something wrong when ALL powerful successful women are alone.

      I’m watching and waiting to see when the guys finally stop fearing an iconoclastic female. One thing that’s wonderful about romance is so many husbands out there are amazingly proud and happy and supportive of their wife’s huge success. Yay romance! 🙂

  • Elizabeth Shore
    May 21, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    I was fortunate enough to be at a party once that Beyonce attended as well. (cause, you know, I just hang out in that type of crowd – NOT!). 🙂 What was cool was to watch that woman work a room. The power she exuded simply by strutting about was nothing short of jaw dropping. She wasn’t there to perform, or to speak, she was simply an invited guest, yet she was clearly the talk of that shindig. She’s stunningly beautiful and uber talented, but it was more than that. She’s managed to elevate herself into a position where she influences and sets trends and gets people to sit up and take notice through her sheer hard work and dare I say, her feminism. Even with Destiny’s Child, her songs were about female power. She’s not sitting around waiting for a guy to do all her work and take care of her, she’s doing it on her own. So I say she’s absolutely a feminist. And because she has such influence and power, I hope she uses it in a smart way.

  • adrianakraft
    May 21, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Here’s the line I think definitely makes you a feminist: “Nobody gets to tell me what or who I am.” Good for you, and well said.

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