Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Beyonce 'bitch' - why does she use such aggressively anti-women language


You have to hand it to Beyonce's marketing team– they've certainly got a knack for creating a buzz.

They succeeded, once again, in setting rumours flying last week with a six-second video on her tumblr, which ends with the message '4.4.2013 9AM EDT #BeyHereNow'.

The video, it transpires, points to an advertisement for Pepsi. A slight anticlimax, perhaps.

But it does give a preview of the video for her upcoming release, Mirrors. In the video, Beyonce is faced with previous incarnations of herself from past singles.

The video arrives just days after Beyonce outed herself as a "modern-day feminist" in Vogue. As opposed to what? A suffragette in the early-1900s?

By adding 'modern-day' she's presumably trying to separate herself from the more extreme end of the spectrum; the feminism she perceives to be outdated and anti-men.

Beyonce's apparent reluctance to label herself should come as no surprise; there are few recorded instances of her associating herself with the women's movement.

Yet people have been determined to shoehorn her into the role of feminist icon for years. It strikes me as an odd thing to do.

So what of the latest single? In the first half, she throws down the gauntlet: "I know when you were little girls/You dreamt of being in my world/ Don't forget it... bow down bitches."

The word 'bitch', in itself, isn't shocking (many female artists have used far worse).

But it's not a word you might expect from an artist who has said that her idea of beauty is "someone who is confident, but not competitive, with other women".

It's a shock to the system to hear her using such aggressively anti-women language.

After its release, Beyonce has been accused of only adopting the feminist label when it suits her.

But it seems to me as though other people want to see her as a champion of the feminist movement more than she does herself.

There are, without question, plenty of things to admire about Beyonce. She is phenomenally successful and no-one could claim she's lazy.

But why can't we separate the things we admire about Beyonce from the things to critique? Why is it that she's seemingly always either lauded as a feminist role-model or blamed for letting the side down?

Enjoy her music, by all means. Admire her work ethic, even. But don't call her a feminist icon.

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