Belfast Telegraph

Beyonce shows why single ladies shouldn't put a ring on it

Grace Dent

Are you a Mrs Carter fan? She performed at the Super Bowl on Sunday.

You must know Mrs Carter? She's one of the most recognisable showbiz brands in the world? Oh yes, until Saturday she was Beyonce Knowles, her of the "Independent Woman" mantra, the lyrics I found enormously spiriting back in 1999 when I was skint, without portfolio and trying to write columns for magazines who simply didn't really employ women.

Beyonce's words were a bloody tonic. Be resilient, be independent, don't give up and wait for someone else to carry you. Buy your own house, shoes, diamonds. I've watched Beyonce stand solo at the 02, in a single spotlight beam, having dispatched all her band and backing dancers off stage, and send ripples of joy through 20,000 people by slightly tensing one bum cheek and letting out a trademark roar. And now – February 2013, wed to Jay-Z (Shawn Carter), and having recently had her first child – she's off on tour as Mrs Carter on The Mrs Carter Tour. Ah, Mrs Carter, a homespun merchandising moniker fragrant with Good Housekeeping notions of baked peach cobblers. There she is standing coyly behind hubby as he talks manly wotnot with Obama, with the overriding notion that showbiz is mere whimsy compared with important things like being in charge of issues surrounding Him Indoors' fresh underpant supply. She's Mrs Carter – Jay-Z's wife.

I'd have expected this of that toxic nitwit Rihanna. Let's face it, when RiRi inevitably marries the man who hospitalised her she will no doubt celebrate with a classy face tattoo saying MRS RIHANNA BROWN. But you, Beyonce, are smart.

Oh it's just a name, you might say. But until now Beyonce has known the rock-solid value of her own name.

Your name – writ large – cuts out the crap of future legal grey areas. It stops people standing with their hands out wanting their cut of something you worked for. Now – all of a sudden – it's a volte-face. Your message to a billion little girls is that your surname isn't important. You took 30m quid off Pepsi last month to say you drink their soda. I wonder, did you scribble "Mrs Jay-Z Carter" on that contract too? And then did you toss it into a communal pot while you puréed some carrot? Or do you have a vast legal team, a watertight pre-nup, and the sense to be sure that Beyonce Knowles gets every single cent she is quite rightfully due?

Despite it being 2013 and not 1066, women still chuck away their own family names and the name they established a career in. Over centuries we've been hoodwinked into thinking that losing your name is no big deal.

This is plutonium-grade hokum. If losing your name wasn't a big deal then men would do it. They'd happily take up their mother-in-law's surname, skipping to the bank to merrily swap their wage slip to their wife's surname, before changing their passport, their CV, their business email, their Facebook account, in the process potentially losing hundreds of lucrative business acquaintances. And their babies would all carry their mother-in-law's name, almost like their old pre-marriage self had vanished.

But men don't do this. Or perhaps one or two do. And neither will Beyonce. She's a pop star. She'll just flog a few million tour tickets on the back of this domestic goddess guff, then cast off Mrs Carter and be Beyonce Knowles again. Little girls: it's not so easy for you.

Belfast Telegraph


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