of course sometimes shit go down when it’s a billion dollars on the elevator
Yes, that’s right. Beyonce finally released a statement on Solange & Jay Z’s brawl at the Met Gala. Well, more accurately, she dropped it on us in a remix collab of Flawless with newly, self-dubbed “queen of rap” Nicki Minaj. This statement isn’t just stuck in the lyrics, it’s pronounced and repeated twice — emphatically — and to a certain extent explains the business implications of Beyonce & Jay Z’s relationship. When you’re collectively worth a billion dollars, no matter how passionless your relationship has become (if at all), you cannot avoid the drama. You cannot simply get divorced and slither out of the public eye.
I don’t want to talk about Flawless. Or Bey & Jay’s relationship, even. I want to talk about FEMINISM. I got feminism on my mind and I really want you to hear my perspective.
First, I have to tell you about this week. A few days ago, I was able to catch the Seattle leg of Bey & Jay’s On the Run tour. Impressive, to say the least. Ok…to be honest it was the most fun I’ve had this year, maybe the last couple years. It was hands down the best performance I’ve ever seen, closely followed by U2’s 360 tour stop in Nashville in 2011 and Nsync/Pink/Sisqo at the Rose Bowl in 2000.
Watching Beyonce & Jay Z do their thing is like watching a salmon swim upstream. You don’t see it very often, it confuses & amazes you all at the same time, and you can’t help but wonder how it seems to be done so effortlessly. Not only can they effortlessly display their musical talent on stage, but they effortlessly enthrall us and hypnotize us into ignoring all the tabloid rumors of their imminent separation following the tour. Now that’s skill.
I was thinking about two things during the show — are Bey & Jay really happy and if not, why would they consent to go on tour together? After all, the tour was announced well after the press first got wind of the couple’s issues at the Met Gala. That video where the “shit go down on the elevator” is not fooling anyone.
So here I am, 4 days after the concert. I’ve basically spent 4 days researching Beyonce and what she stands for. I’ve watched her “Making of Self-Titled” 5-part video series on YouTube, I’ve watched performances — old and new — watching how she acts on stage, looking for any hint of inauthenticity. I’ve talked to friends who support feminist claims and those who don’t. I’ve looked into the sky and pondered.
Beyonce is the real deal, the best performer of our time, and a glowing example for all women — adults and children — of what being a woman means and how feminism is a concept & a lifestyle not to be rejected, but embraced in order to bring true equality of the sexes.
Read this quote by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
We teach girls to shrink themselves
To make themselves smaller
We say to girls,
‘You can have ambition
But not too much
You should aim to be successful
But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man.’
Because I am female
I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that
Marriage is the most important
Now marriage can be a source of
Joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
In the way that boys are
Feminist: the person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes
You might recognize that quote. It’s shockingly real. My left-minded friends might raise a fist and pump two times. My right-minded friends might furrow their brow and scoff. Regardless of where you stand politically, women surround us. It needs to be our job as men — whether you are a CEO, bagel shop owner, war veteran, or homosexual — to look at the woman next to you, adult or child — and say “You got this.”
Another thought I had while watching Beyonce perform last week was “Where do I stand on the sexual nature of her performances?” At times, I’ve felt like she performs to merely feed the eyes and minds of men and at times I’ve understood the necessity of sexual content in her songs. I’ve heard mothers shout and I’ve read mothers’ letters denouncing Beyonce as a detestable example for young girls. But after all that extensive research I cited above, I realized that Beyonce’s work is not about sex at all.
Hear me out…Beyonce is sexual, by all means, in her songs and performances. She wears the tight clothes, she thrusts her hips, and dances around poles sometimes. But it is not meant to tell girls to seek after sexual conquest. Even if Bey references the act of sex in songs like Partition, she is not telling girls to seek after sex in and of itself. Just as Adichie references girls not being able to be sexual beings in the way that boys are, Beyonce is saying the same thing. Men, as a whole, have a superiority complex when it comes to their sexual experiences and lifestyle. It’s always been like that. We might not emphasize the submission of women as verbally as we once did, but we still emphasize it. Bey is not preaching sexuality as a means to win over men, but merely as a way to say “I can assert sexual promiscuity and dominance just like men can…because I’m equal to men.”
Have you clicked on my “About” tab above and seen what I look like? In order to click “submit” on this essay, I must remind you that I am a 22-year-old white male from an upper middle class family. Oh, and I work for the railroad industry. Call me a cliché, but that’s just how it is, unfortunately. I admit that I have never been marginalized and I agree with my friend Cort when he says, “White male heritage isn’t really a thing that inspires” (and I know he would love to discuss this side of the conversation with you). I will never truly understand what a woman or a person of color goes through in their lifetime, but I hope I can live a life that inspires people around me to treat women with increasing amounts of equality each day. I may not have creative influence or a high-profile job to inspire you into action, but I have my words. So there you have it.