Look, Beyonce is a hot mama: literally and figuratively. I have been a fan of Beyonce since the original Destiny’s Child: you know, the one with Beyonce, Kelly, and….those other two girls. Beyonce has earned the right to be called “Queen Bey,” with her hypnotizing voice and bootylicious bod. I am pretty sure I put Beyonce in a slide while presenting on Aristotle’s book of Rhetoric. It was a stretch, but I made it work. I would love to have half of the talent that Beyonce has. I only wish I resembled her a little bit. I think it is safe to say that Beyonce is one of my favorite pop Divas of all time.
This post is not directed at her talent or appearance. I would never dream of doubting her angelic voice or obvious beauty.
Oddly enough, I wouldn’t debate Miley’s star power either. While in graduate school, I wrote a bit about her and her father’s business savvy (along with the Olsen Twins and Justin Bieber)
“Miley Cyrus was produced from her initial desire to be in the spotlight, her father’s smarts in the business, and the magic of Disney sitcoms. Above all, it was her father’s knowledge of how to succeed and give the public what they want that has pushed Miley from rising star to super star. If any man can support a family off of the royalties of “Achy Breaky Heart,” you know he’s excellent with money as well. People may think she’s on the highway Britney’s tragic end in stardom, but I disagree. Miley is a teenage girl; she’s making mistakes and the public is watching. However, with support from both of her parents (TRUE support, not overbearing manager support), the sky is the limit for this 17 year old. I can see her having an illustrious career as a pop star for AT LEAST the remainder of her 20’s. With the money she’ll have after an almost 20 year career, can you blame her for retiring at 30?“
Isn’t it funny how four years can change everything? Bless my naive heart.
The University of Victoria announced yesterday that the school would offer a course in Queen Bey in order to “explore how we can situate popular music as a cultural construct,” and further “talk about her as a potentially black feminist woman, or talk about her culturally situating within popular music history, her role in society, or how she influences and reflects our current social makeup.”
I’ve got to be honest, the fangirl in me would love to take that class. Let’s talk about how many words Beyonce added to our modern lexicon…or how she introduced dance moves we weren’t sure existed…perhaps how she performed one of the most talked about halftime shows ever and how it sparked some whispers of her involvement in the illuminati. My mouth is watering at the delicious discussions that are sure to arise in this course. When does it start again?
But wait…did the course descriptors really call Beyonce a “potentially black feminist woman?” I am, admittedly, not an expert on feminism, but I’d like to pride myself as a feminist. I do not the word ‘feminist’ means what instructors think it means.
I do not have a daughter, but I was a daughter, so I feel that I can speak on this particular topic with some credibility. Beyonce and Miley are poor representations of what it means to be a feminist.
I just said what you think I just said.
First, I must debunk the popular marginalization of the word “feminist.” When I introduce feminist theory into my ninth grade classroom, the word is immediately met with some eye rolls from predominantly my female students. It is as if young girls feel they must set themselves apart from those wacky feminist leaders who do not shave, shower, and are card-carrying man haters. Girls are embarrassed to admit that they are feminists, but I prove to them that they are in a few questions.
Do you think women should be allowed to work?
Do you think women should be compensated equally for doing the same work as a man?
Do you think that women should be allowed the same civic rights to vote or bear arms?
After they answer yes to all three of these questions, I explain that feminism is not an attempt to put the female on higher ground than the male. Feminism is the embodiment of the efforts of women like Susan B Anthony. Simply, feminism is a quest for social, economic, cultural, and political equality for women.
In my estimation, feminism is not just the right to bare arms…pun intended.
Beyonce and Miley are two of the most talented and successful women in world popular culture. Their talent transcends language and time. So why, oh why, do these women feel the need to parade themselves across the stage as over-sexualized cartoon characters?
Miley’s Bangerz tour was on NBC last night. Steven and I flipped back and forth between “Rising Star” and her show.
We turned on just in time to watch this particular performance of “Love Money Party.” Wearing a hideous cannabis bodysuit and gold chain, she sat spread eagle atop this gold oldsmobile metaphorically humping her entire audience. I felt as if I had just witnessed her being gang-raped by hundreds of screaming fans.
The sad part is, Miley believes she is in control of it all. She has no idea that she has been gobbled up by the same machine that stole Britney’s innocence and ethical credibility all in the name of millions and millions of dollars. Ironically, she is a slave to the elusive “love, money,” and “party” that she has become addicted. These three will never satisfy the respect that she craves. And she will never get respect if she continues to present herself as an over-sexed caricature.
Speaking of over-sexed, let’s talk about Queen Bey. Keep in mind, I am a fan of her voice and I am, as many others are, captivated by her beauty. So many women in the industry feel the need to be overtly sexual in order to make it big…like Beyonce. Many divas find the natural course to start over-sexed and then they get to write and sing about whatever the heck they want to. Beyonce has passed the threshold. She has proven her staying power. She can write and sing about whatever the heck she wants to. So WHY on earth are her lyrics the most egregious offender of objectifying women as simple sexual playthings.
In the song, Partition, Beyonce asks the driver to “roll up the partition,” because she doesn’t need him to see “‘Yonce on her knees.” This begs the question, “why would this particular act need a song if you need privacy?” She discusses how her partner “Monica Lewinsky’s all over her gown,” and her “lipstick is smudged.”
There is no symbol or euphemism present in this song. It is as if Beyonce is simply declaring, I like sex, and my husband likes it too. Again, nothing wrong with this. It is just simple: simple in topic, and simple in regards to the boundless affections of marriage that do not and should not stop at just sex.
I am not naive enough to pretend that feminism doesn’t include owning our sexuality as women; whether we choose to protect our purity or not. I am confident, however, that men wouldn’t write a song about returning the…ehem…favor discussed in this song. Why? Men often don’t laud themselves on their knees. It is a position of weakness. As long as Miley and Beyonce remain in this position, I will never laud them as feminists.
Talented? Yes. Beautiful? Yes. But perhaps that is the problem.
Daisy Buchanan describes the inherent issue with over-sexualization in the Great Gatsby,
“I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling, and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. ‘All right,’ I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.'”
Without owning our sex, that is all we are good for. We are beautiful little fools.