Feminism, it would seem, is the latest re-discovered cause amongst young women – and you’re nothing these days if you’re not a young millennial, in a gender-neutral jumpsuit, stamping your feet about social injustice for women, sexism or how hard done by you are because you were born with a vagina.
Make no mistake, I get that it’s a good thing for young women to have an interest in equality and not ‘be silenced by the patriarchy!’ But, sometimes, it feels as if the endless shouting is drowning out the core essence of the cause. That ‘empowerment’, feminism and the sisterhood has become so fashionable it’s diluted the real meaning of the words.
A woman who has become the ‘icon’ du jour for all hip young women to look up to as the queen of the sisterhood.
So much so, the term ‘what would Beyonce do’ has become a popular by-phrase when tackling major life decisions, she has been hailed as the go-to example of what it means to be an empowered (groan) independent young women in the twenty-first century.
Her latest album Lemonade has been praised as ‘a Southern Gothic meditation on black American womanhood across the years – dense, layered and nuanced’. It is also rumoured to be a lyrical reaction to her husband Jay-Z’s infidelity – unconfirmed, however it’s pretty clear something is amiss from the lyrics in almost every song.
‘If you try this shit again you’ll lose your wife’
‘Can’t you see there’s no man above you, what a wicked way to treat a girl that loves you’
‘I don’t want to lose my pride but I’m a fuck me up a bitch’
‘Beautiful man, I know you’re lying’
You get the picture.
But, instead of being labelled as soppy and weak, ‘Queen B’ has been called empowered because ‘she’s not taking this shit no more!”
Eh? I’m confused.
Now, I get there a worse women to look up to in life than Beyonce, but, for all her hair flicking, ain’t- going-to-take-no-more-of-this-shit attitude, she is, well, taking it.
No matter how many badass songs she pens, the bottom line is, she’s staying with a man who, if the rumours are to be believed, treats her like s**t.
But that’s not the axe I have to grind, infidelity doesn’t have to be a deal breaker and there is no shame in staying with a man who’s cheated on you if that’s what you want to do *but* why are other women using her as a beacon of female empowerment when she’s done the opposite of what she’s claiming to do in her lyrics.
Or let’s say he didn’t cheat (so did) and she’s written an album which is entirely fictitious and unrelated (so didn’t) is that any more empowering?
Any more inspiring for young women to sit through 12 songs of bitching and moaning about a ‘fictitious’ bloke treating you like s**t?
I find myself increasingly wincing at the media ‘crowning’ modern feminist icons – Beyonce, Emma Watson, Hillary Clinton, to name a few. I understand it suits them to have a mainstream representative who can popularise the cause but Emma Watson, famed for talking about how all women, regardless of colour are equal – was all also advertising whitening cream for dark skinned women, Hillary Clinton has carved out her own brand of feminism (one which works well if you’re wealthy and white) and Beyonce, is creating a niche for herself as the go-to feminist songstress for all those who have ever been abused or mistreated, expect she’s reluctant to walk away from being treated pretty badly herself.
Beyonce is a pop star first and foremost, she’s cleverly branded herself as a representative of female empowerment and for that she should be admired – but she’s a bubblegum version of real feminism and we’re the kids in the candy store buying the commercialised, high-gloss fodder that is passing for real empowerment while she laughs all the way to the bank.
And there ain’t no sisterhood in that.