About a week or so ago in the Metro someone had written in to say that they thought Beyoncé isn’t a feminist purely because of the clothes she wears and that fact her last album spoke explicitly about sex. Now putting all my love for her aside, I’m going to counter that utterly ridiculous argument.
Beyoncé is a feminist.
Beyoncé is a feminist – she empowers women in her songs, she tells you that you are flawless from the moment you wake up, she knows her worth and she knows yours, and she will be damned if you do not realise just how special and important you are.
People complain that she’s not a feminist because she talks about sex, but how does that make her not a feminist? Feminism stands for equality between men and women, and everyone allowing men (for years) in the industry to talk about sex and drugs, usually in a ridiculous and degrading way, but slamming Beyoncé for it literally reinstates the idea that feminism is something that we need. You absolutely can not protest against the woman and performer she is now, purely because it makes you a bit uncomfortable to listen to a woman talk about sex. If you’re complaining about your kids listening to it and it being rude for them, then that’s on you. She did not make that record for your kids. She made that record for herself and her fans. If you think your child is too young to listen to it, then stop playing it – simple.
“But look at what she’s wearing!!!!!” If she poses on a magazine cover wearing a crop top and short shorts, she gets accused of being a hypocrite as she will always mention gender inequality in her interviews. You’re telling me that she’s not a feminist because of her outfit choices? Get out, now. She has a say in how she dances, what she wears, the faces she makes – she is doing all of that on her own accord. She OWNS it all. That is her having power and dominance over her own body, which is just a basic human right. Who is anyone to tell her what she can and can’t do?
She fights for equality for everyone, but select few will choose not to listen to this, instead focusing on her image. You saying that she is not a feminist because she looks sexy is downright ridiculous, and straight up shallow.
Also she’s a performer and that’s what everyone expects of performers, and she looks damn good too…
“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.”
Over the weekend just gone, Beyoncé dropped the remix to ***Flawless, which features the Queen of Rap Nicki Minaj. No one truly believes that fact that Nicki is a feminist, but she is. Straight up. In her lyrics and her interviews, she delivers her feminism and ideals of power slyly and hides it all behind her Barbie-fun, sugar-coated, plastic exterior. But she knows she’s powerful, and she knows that women need to be encouraged to be powerful. It’s no secret that she delivered the sickest rap in Monster, on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and within the first 5 seconds of her dropping her bars she has already established herself as the Queen amongst Kings (the Kings being the male-dominated rap industry that she is taking over – “You can be the king but watch the Queen conquer!”)
Nicki is trying to change societies views on women being inferior to men, and these views very much exist in modern society. From birth, girls are told that they’re to be looked at and should always be pretty (that age-old saying of “girls should be seen, not heard”) but that boys should always strive to be the best they can be. If a boy is competitive it’s a good thing, and getting to number one is always the most important thing, but for girls it’s simply the taking part that counts. Nicki is fighting for women out there, and she is using her power in the industry to get it. Pink Friday opens with the song I’m The Best, and in this she raps: “I’m fighting for the girls that never thought they could win, cause before they could begin you told them it was the end, but I am here to reverse the curse that they live in.”
In her interviews, Nicki explains her views on women in the industry. My favourite quote from her was from the MTV documentary ‘My Time Now’: “When I’m assertive, I’m a bitch. When a man’s assertive, he’s a boss. He ‘bossed up.’ No negative connotation behind being ‘bossed up’ but lots of negative connotation behind being a ‘bitch’.” And she explained that while putting on her make up. Nicki Minaj slammed this everyday sexism after applying her mascara. If that’s not bad-ass and feminist then I don’t know what is.
“I handle my business and also I speak up for myself. But if I was not like this, so many people would’ve taken advantage of me. I took a lot of shit from people, from men who didn’t want me to realize my own worth, who didn’t want me to know the truth about who I was and how good I was.”
Beyoncé has always been proud of the fact that she is a feminist, and she will preach about the importance of feminism. Feminists preach for the equality of sexes, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie mentions in her speech that was sampled in ***Flawless. Beyoncé wants that equality for women everywhere (she also wants people to realise that girls can “run this mother!”) Just because you’re a woman living a comfortable life does not mean that you can not be a feminist. It does not mean that feminism is not needed. You need to wake up and realise that without feminism, you absolutely will not have the life that you live. Without feminism you will be oppressed, daily. Without feminism you will not have basic human rights. These are issues that are still very much alive in the world, where women barely have any rights. They can be sold to men for marriage and then used as sex workers, they can be beaten and raped, daily, and no one bats an eyelid. Without feminists who have the power to fight against it (such as you) then this will be allowed to continue. If you’re a woman and you sit there and say that you don’t need feminism, then why don’t you think about the women who do? They can’t help themselves, but you can try and help them.
In the original album version of ***Flawless, Beyoncé samples a speech to separate her two songs, Bow Down and Flawless, by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who spoke about Feminism at the TED conference (it was this speech that is sampled). The speech is aptly titled ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ and literally explains exactly what feminism is and outlines why feminism is needed, even in a world where women will proudly announce that they are against feminism, which is so ridiculous I can’t even begin to wrap my head around it.
I highly suggest searching for it on YouTube, because the speech is amazing, and Adichie is a beautiful orator.
“Feminist: The person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”
Chimamanda Nzgozi Adichie
Last year, Gucci organised a massive fundraising concert in London for women everywhere. Beyoncé headlined it. Chime For Change was an amazing and a very moving and empowering concert – I cried at some of the stories. All the inequality between the sexes were massively outlined and everyone was given the opportunity to help fund projects to help women as the cost of each ticket was donated to a project of the buyers choosing. Celebrities such as Malala Yousefzai, Madonna, James Franco, Ryan Reynolds, Prince Harry, Ashwarya Rai and Salma Hayek all spoke about how we need feminism, everywhere, and the inequalities that women face. Beyoncé was the headliner amongst all these speeches, videos and performers (such as J-Lo, Ellie Goulding and Florence + The Machine) and she was perfect. She slayed everyone, and showed the world that women are powerful, and that we can own everything; we just don’t have that opportunity right now.
I am proud to say that I’m a feminist – not this warped new-wave era of feminism where social justice keyboard warriors preach about how men should be an inferior sex. That’s not feminism, at all. Everyone and anyone can be a feminist, and everyone who preaches for equality within the sexes is a feminist. This stigma attached to the ideal and the new stereotype that all feminists are man-hating lesbians is just not true, at all, and it needs to go, now. Feminists want equality.
Beyoncé is a feminist – she empowers women in her songs, she tells you that you are flawless from the moment you wake up, she knows her worth and she knows yours, and she will be damned if you do not realise just how special and important you are to the world.
So wake up and realise that.