Oh Lawd. I know I'm stepping into boiling waters, as I dare to lend a critical eye to the woman referred to so many as Queen. Any unkind remark about Beyoncé leads to the dreaded response by her beloved fans of said criticizer being a hater, bitter, and unsupportive of a Black woman's hard work. Honestly, I can't knock the woman's hustle. She's worked relentlessly to get to where she's at today, and that tenacity deserves respect. That said, with all the accolades, awards, and constant adulation poured upon her, something seriously irked me as I saw the word FEMINIST emblazoned behind her in bright lights as she stood firmly on the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards. It just seemed…false.
It's hard to comprehend how repeating the words "Bow Down Bitches" equates to any kind of empowerment for females, when it's message is to congratulate the accomplishments of one single female. The cover art for the single is a picture of the young singer surrounded by trophies, the symbol of approval and accomplishment Beyoncé feels validates her position in the world. In contrast, I am reminded of Judy Chicago's The Dinner Table, a monumental 3-dimensional piece of performance art that places some of the greatest women voices together at a grand table of reverence. Would any of these women be so bold as to stand among the other seated women and implore them to bow down to her? I think not.
My understanding of a feminist is a person who stands for the elevation of the female voice regardless of their acceptance by anyone else. Beyoncé may have a few songs that speak to female empowerment, but their messages are negated by so many more of her songs that cry for acceptance by using sexuality as a bargaining tool. By allowing the recipient of her sexuality to assess her worthiness, she in fact loses all power and instead places the sexuality in the hands of her lover/audience/object of affection. She becomes a powerless object, and that is where the feminist meaning is completely lost. These flip-flopping messages destroy any chance of Beyoncé being taken seriously as a woman's voice for feminism. How is a young woman looking up to Beyoncé able to convert these convoluted messages of sexuality into a platform in which she can stand in power?
For every song like Pretty Hurts, there's
Just tell me how it's looking babe… I do this all for youand
Take all of me I just wanna be the girl you like
...Because the need for constant approval of your appearance by your lover somehow makes you empowered?
For every Flawless, there's :
I'm in my penthouse half naked/I cooked this meal for you naked/So where the hell you at
...Because waiting at home with a killer body and dinner ready, for a man who doesn’t seem to respect your time or company is real feminist, right?
Speaking of Flawless, in the remix, she braggadociously makes this statement twice:
Of course sometimes shit goes down when there's a billion dollars in a[n] elevatoras if to say, in some twisted logic, that because she and her husband share an enormous amount of wealth, that violence may be a product of their relationship. Excuse me, but what part of feminism is that? Real feminists have a mutual respect of each other's differences and are able to meet their partners on a level of understanding that would not involve a physical altercation. I would hope that the financial situation of my partner and myself would not dissolve into the disturbing resolution we all saw on the tape.
Look. I have no problem giving props where props are due. But Beyoncé above all else is a consummate entertainer first, a fair-weather feminist way, way after.