Not only did Beyoncé Knowles-Carter create a media frenzy when she “out of the blue” dropped her latest album with no PR, advertisement or prior announcements (which no other artist had done before), but also through the specific feminist thoughts her lyrics spoke and continue to speak.
Although there has been much controversy over some of Beyoncé’s lyrics saying derogatory terms such as “bitches” in her song “***Flawless”, or her husband even including lyrics that reference domestic violence between the late Tina Turner and Ike Turner in her song “Drunk In Love”—which I undeniably agree is a HUGE mistake—I have come to the conclusion through analysis of her songs and videos, Beyoncé and her latest album ooze the ideals and profound opinions of feminism.
So let me now back up my claim with clear evidence:
In the song “***Flawless” the first couple of lines state,
“I took some time to live my life, but don’t think I’m just his little wife. Don’t get it twisted, get it twisted. This my shit, bow down bitches.”
When I interpret those lyrics, first of all I don’t take the word “bitches” offensively. Secondly, I love how she makes it clear she does not view herself as just Jay-Z’s “little wife”; she is an individual and does not merely associate herself as only his partner. She then continues to say (the way I personally see it), “don’t get it all wrong people, this fabulous life I live and all the things that accompany it do not only belong to Jay-Z (the man), but me also (the female). I am a successful woman who earned my living through MY hard work, not his.” (end interpretation)
Taking another section of that song, which to me speaks volumes and is incredibly empowering, is her use of a quote stated by Chimamanda Ngazi Adichie, who is a Nigerian novelist and feminist advocate. The quote is from her TEDxTALKS speech she gave last year, titled “We Should All Be Feminists”. Adichie states in her speech and also in Beyoncé’s song:
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful; otherwise, you will threaten the man.’ Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now, marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors, not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. ”
I don’t know about you, but I think by Beyoncé consciously placing this in her song, it shows that she strongly agrees with the statements made by Adichie and is also taking action; compelling people who are listening to understand the wise words of Adichie and to open their eyes and broaden their minds.
Moving on to more support of Beyoncé’s pro-feminism, I now analyze her song “Superpower”:
In the music video, not only does Beyoncé look fierce because, well, she’s Queen Bey and she looks fabulous in anything she puts on, but because she’s wearing a hijab. Yes, the controversial Muslim head covering females are supposed to wear. With this profound image, I see reference/correlation to recent creations of female, Muslim super heroes.
Example 1: In the US, the main comic book producer, Marvel, has created “Ms. Marvel”—a Muslim American teenage girl who becomes a shape-shifting superhero.
Example 2: In Pakistan the “Burka Avenger” is another female, Muslim superhero who empowers women, with her disguise choice being a burka.
With this, I believe Beyoncé is making a huge statement of positive unification of all women, regardless of religion or ethnicity, because together, we have “superpower”—right on sister.
The last point I will try and make is through Queen Bey’s empowerment of female sexuality:
Most of her songs have sexual references, with several of them centering on sexual activity. I would like to refer back to line Adichie states, “we teach girls that we cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are” and how true can that be? We hear so many male rappers talking about “getting some”—to describe in a much lighter form of expression compared to what they actually say—but do we ever hear female artists doing the same?
With Beyoncé’s intensely sexual lyrics in the songs “Blow”, “Partition” and “Rocket”, she makes a statement that female artists can create songs about sex too, and does so in a much more respectable way. The fact that she is happily married and in love doesn’t just send the message that it’s okay to have sex with any average Joe (which is totally an individual preference and choice), but it makes the point that females are sexual beings, just like males. Towards the very end of the song “Partition”, there are French lines that translate, “men think that feminists hate sex, but it’s an exciting and natural activity that women love,” once again endorsing that females—and feminists—can be sexual if they choose to be, just like men.
So through this analysis of Beyoncé’s recent album lyrics and videos, I hope you are able to see that she is on our side. I don’t dampen the fact that Jay-Z’s lyric in her song “Drunk In Love” demonstrates something completely opposite of feminism (as my girl yourknightinshiningtutu makes the awesome point in her post yesterday). However, everyone makes mistakes and overlooks things—which Beyoncé clearly did—and through all of the references I have identified and taken to heart, Beyoncé does not want to anger the feminist world, but represent it and actively be a part of it.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on this matter, I would love to hear what you think!
Much love and stay flawless ladies and gents