Weekly Short: Beyonce’s Misguided Feminism

By Lee Williams, Communications Activist 

Ever since I have written about America’s Pursuit of Unattainable Beauty, I have been keenly alert to issues within current feminism. On a fundamental level, feminism is supposed to be about women’s equality. As simple as that definition is, its also effortless to see what feminism is not. And what Beyonce did during her “Drunk in Love” Grammy performance was assuredly anti-feminist. Though die-hard Beyonce fans may storm my page and skewer me like the Spartans of 300, I find her portrayal of “feminism” to be insulting to the common sense of women. 

Can someone explain to me how Beyonce's feminism can be simultaneously raunchy, writhing across stage with both cheeks exposed, and still identify with the view of women's equality?

Can someone explain to me how Beyonce’s feminism can be simultaneously raunchy, writhing across stage with both cheeks exposed, and still identify with the view of women’s equality?

The double-mindedness behind Beyonce’s latest album, a tour-de-force of artistry and imagery, is wholly confusing. Within her videos and performances, she decidedly chooses to objectify herself sexually–to the point where the lines are blurred from pop star to exotic stripper. Her album was premised on feminism and empowering young women, and yet there are better ways to achieve such a goal than the likes of essentially selling your body to the tune or near-pornographic videos. Also, this one cannot be blamed on the patriarchy. An iconic pop star such as Beyonce has full control over her image.

Its can be disappointing that pop stars like Beyonce, or self-professed feminists Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, can be pro-woman and yet still adopt the sex-object role. What do you think?

6 comments

  1. Tiff Willaims · January 28, 2014

    I don’t think it’s a problem. Why can’t see be d sexual that is not anti feminist. If men can be sexually so can she… if it’s about equality for women I love how Beyonce is showing she can equally embrace her own sexuality just like any woman should.

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    • commactivist · January 28, 2014

      Tiffany, thank you for your comment. There is nothing wrong with being sexual. Women can embrace their sexuality and still be empowered, strong women. The problem I have with Beyonce is that she adopts this standard of being a role model for women, a feminist, and not having the world take advantage of her… yet she only potrays herself as a sex object. There is no doubt Beyoncé is a powerful woman with a great mind. She has had huge success in everything she does. She is a lot more than more good looks, she seems to have an astute business and creative mind. However, when she performs, it is so disappointing all we get is skimpy outfits and women as sexual objects! At this point in her career, I would argue that this is not something she has to do. She is and should be better than this!

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  2. Neice · February 1, 2014

    I read your post today. I was very please to see that clearly someone can define the terms stripper and girl power! I appreciate the cry for respect from women who can define themselves with purpose and with dignity. I have a lot of personal opinions of what I really thought. But that might not deem necessary considering that whatever is going on in her life… I pray it gets resolved!. Unfortunately she isn’t a role model and suffers with a lot of issues that she believes getting on stage “entertaining” is enlightenment in her world! And my question is…Just how large is her world?

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  3. cutitout · February 1, 2014

    “Can someone explain to me how Beyonce’s feminism can be simultaneously raunchy, writhing across stage with both cheeks exposed, and still identify with the view of women’s equality?”

    Easy, What she did is no different than what male artist do, it just looks different because female sexuality looks different than male sexuality. Why is it that we never have this conversation when male artists get on stage or on the screen and dance or dress provocatively? Have you ever seen Chris Brown perform “Take You Down”???? Check it out on YouTube… How about Miguel on stage shirtless and miming the act of putting on a condom and having sex with a woman??? D’Angelos “How does it Feel” Video? Rico Suave’s “Rico Suave” Did Prince not wear ass-less pants on the VMA’s years ago when he performed “Get Off”

    The problem is the idea that a woman’s body equals sex in the minds of Americans because of the convenient, patriarch-ally designed set of beliefs that we have all been brainwashed into embracing in order for women to be controlled. So when a woman shows skin or wears something that accentuates her feminine form, automatically she’s “selling sex” and “objectifying” herself. Yet a man can show his muscles and run around shirtless(turning women on, thus “objectifying” himself) and everyone marvels at his physical fitness. Why is it okay for a male artist like a Mick Jagger or Elvis Pressley to completely embrace their sexuality on stage and off and no one questions their artistic merit but when a woman does it, she is as you say, “objectifying” herself???
    The definition of Feminism is : “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” How did her performance not embody that when so many male artists do and have presented themselves in a titillating way to appeal to women and female fans????

    Somewhere along the lines the definition of feminism has been lost and replaced by the idea that feminism is about women becoming man-like or the idea that a woman’s accomplishments are not valid unless they are achieved while the woman is dressed like a good, modest lady,(according to standards established by whom? The Patriarchy)with no chance of her earning anything because of her looks, sexuality of femininity. Do you not see the problem in this? Embracing the model of feminism that you seem to sight is the opposite of the actual definition of feminism. Your idea of feminism , I believe according to what you wrote seems to be that in order to achieve a gold star in feminism, women must to some degree shun certain aspects of being feminine…. If women like Beyoncé were to adhere to it, they would be allowing themselves to essentially be controlled by men if how they truly wish to express/present themselves deviates from that idea.

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  4. Toni · April 28, 2015

    I think in short Beyoncé sends a double minded message. Men and women are different. Someone mentioned about Ricki Martin and other males dancing provactively so why women can’t? Well honestly because at the end of the day that woman in her personal relationship will not be given the same respect, woman are more objectified than men and that’s 100 percent true. And I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Now why are women more objectified than women? Because there is a double standard. Since the beginning of time women were seen as someTHING to enhance the mans life.
    But the statement that he made about women are objectified is true whether we want to accept it or not. It actually makes a great topic for discussion why are women objectified more than men?
    And what can be done to lessen this dilemma?
    Woman have to fight not to be objectified but yet sometimes make themselves look like objects. I believe that’s why some men cheat because they are just looking for the next object/thrill. There isn’t enough emotional connection. The physical connection superceds everything.

    In order to combat this issue women should carry themselves in a less provocative respectful manner if they want to be considered a role model to young girls especially. Girls will emulate this behavior and believe this is what they need to do to get attention.

    I also don’t think it is in anyway of controlling women rather than just setting boundaries appropriate and inappropriate or at least agree that less clothes showing almost your privates and thrusting makes you look like a tease and is suggesting that you want to have sex because that’s what it truly looks like. (Just don’t understand why would anyone defend that behavior)
    But In life there are all sorts of things that we live by.

    Also how can she come off angelic one moment and raunchy the next. How does being over sexualized show empowerment? Why not focus on her education sometimes if she has one or advocacy/business related projects?
    What are we actually grooming or projecting to our children? How to be a great stripper I mean singer with sexy clothes?

    Unfortunately she has gone to far and fell in the trap of the “world” ways and those that don’t see a problem with it are too close to the problem and are worldly themselves. She is not the worst role model but far from being the best role model.
    There are some things I like about Beyoncé for instance she still manages to have some class and privacy but something’s about her don’t match her overall persona.

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    • commactivist · May 5, 2015

      Toni, thank you for your very thorough email! I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my blog. In short, I think that when it comes to entertainers, they are thinking money. Cash. Web hits. All of this equals sales of some sort. Socially speaking, when women are objectified by the patriarchal media, that can be seen as offensive due to them not having control over how their image is used. However, if a woman self-objectifies herself, then this is seen as utilizing her own sexuality in the way she wants or desires. Unfortunately, these two examples tread a fine line between what Western, pro-feminist logic women describe as empowering and what our society often can deem as unbecoming for a women. It’s confusing. Furthermore, I think the culture at large could benefit from equating female sexuality as the sole version of empowerment in Western society.

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