Beyonce’s Find-a-Man Feminism.

When Beyonce releases a new song it stirs attention and discussion about feminism.  Her recent tune, “Girls (Who Run the World)” is no exception. On one hand, the YBF called Beyonce the next Gloria Steinem.  (yeah right) Others, like internet personality Nineteenpercent, called Bey’s message superficial and dishonest when considering the status of women here, and abroad:  YouTube Video – Beyonce – Run the World (LIES)

Essence Editor Demetria Lucas also raised concerns about WHERE the  girl power lies:

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste and so is a perfectly good video that doesn’t match the song. Despite the declarations in the lyrics (and the unrelated hotness of the video), it’s a still a man’s world, and it will always be as long as women think their vaginas are where their power lies.”

Is the problem Beyonce or the meaning of feminism/woman’s empowerment? There’s no consensus even among Black feminists, according to BlackVoices.  I’m of two minds on this. Beyonce does promote an image of a woman who is independent, and encourages the right things.  Hearing her say a man should “put a ring on it” is a positive anthem, especially for African-American women who are losing hope and believing the hype that there’s no value in having an MRS.

God knows when a relationship’s  gone bad, the lyrics of “Me, myself and I” sends a strong message that walking away is best.  Given the startling domestic violence stats in the Black community, leaving could be a life-saving decision.  No doubt. Her music is pro-woman but songs like these are what I call Find-a-Man feminism — a brand of empowerment that’s centered around relationships.  It’s empowerment lite that encourages female power without the baggage of social justice. This is where I begin to have issues.

Beyonce’s an established member of the entertainment industry, wife of Jay-Z, movie producer, actress, beauty icon, ad woman and role model for women.  Clearly, she has a certain amount of respect and privilege to take some risks.  Yet, when has she EVER stood up for anything meaningful?

Bey’s one of the sexist women in the entertainment world but has never defended female sexuality or her own for that matter. For the longest, Sasha Fierce was the one up there grinding and being sexy — not her.  She’s too nice to be sexual.  As the leader of Find-a-Man feminism, power is in being sexy and appealing to men — not in having opinions.

Within her brand of empowerment, women are independent enough to avoid being a “golddigger,” but never accomplished enough to outshine or intimidate a man.

For those of us, continuing the fight against misogyny, domestic violence, street harassment, work place discrimination, cuts to family planning, moving on and other “girl stuff,” Find-a-Man Feminism does not contribute a whole lot.

In our world, positive self esteem and high heels have no power in against budget cuts, crazy billboards or media attacks  Phat beats can’t drown out being told we’re crazy, bitter, angry, man haters, lesbians, ugly and too serious.

Instead of beauty ads, we’re underpaid, overworked, threatened, stalked, ridiculed and even attacked because of our work.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not hating. In fact, I say “do ya thing Beyonce!”

While you’re silent, the rest of us will be right over here toiling away and making sustained, systemic change.

We are sending out action alerts, writing blog posts, planning conferences, reading our history, analyzing culture, rallying for justice and calling out the bullshit.  We have little choice.  There’s so much work to do, and we’re too passionate and determined to stop.

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2 Responses to Beyonce’s Find-a-Man Feminism.

  1. Do you ever feel tempted to just give up with all this grasping at straws – trying to find something redeemable about this high profile pop puppet (and popuar culture in general)?

    Let’s try it now, see how it feels! 😉

    The corporate controlled music industry – especially with the most heavily promoted level of acts like Beyonce – is not promoting anything positive, and it if ever has it has been by accident!

    Like Hollywood, the only thing the music industry promotes is being that bit more dumbed down than the last generation it managed to indoctrinate…… being a slightly more perfect consumer drone than your parents and feeling that bit more comfortable with embracing the obscene values and ideology of corporatism itself.

    – male like vertical (pyramidal) hierarchy
    – status
    – ego .. or more accurately the ‘social poersona’ (a collective persona, hive mind, where the corporate mass media is queen bee telling us what to think, wear, behave etc)
    – material wealth to be worshipped (having no concept of a spiritual/ philosophical side of life existing)
    – power over others to get what you want
    – difference emphasized rather than unity (divide and conquer)
    – violence
    – master/slave relationships of dominance/ subservience
    – reptilian brain (R-complex) type behaviour
    – etc

    The way the music industry sells us this culture and lifestyle is through the use of cognitive dissonancec, subliminals, meta-communication and psychological warfare.

    For example women crawling about on all fours in their underwear/ S+M gear, defining themselves as ‘strong’ and ’empowered’ and full of ‘attitude’, while sending out all of the above messages. And while having their image, songs, videos, and appearances dictated by the industry (mostly men) which employees them. Grrrl power indeed! It’s all the biggest load of BS! 😉

    But it’s in the industry’s interests to promote their acts as if they really are ‘artists’ who are very much in control of their careers and artistic creativity (of course some do have some degree of creative freedom (and talent), but you can bet they were chosen and promoted to success on the basis that their message and outlook fitted with the agenda perfectly – a good example being GaGa).

    Just think for a moment how many ‘shocking’ and ‘outrageous’ music artists we have today being as controversial as young people are supposed to be. Yet do any of them ever say/ do/ sing anything controversial about corporatism, the establishment, governments, war, politics, humanity, philosophy, real life?

    Of course not! (singing about real issues is sooooooo 20th century). Today our most outrageous music artists represent the height of *conformity*, and even strict censorship. Yet it disguises itself as an ‘anything goes’ culture. Nothing in popular music rocks the boat anymore, it is all created by corporations for corporations. Cultural corporate fascism (in a nutshell).

    And so what mother in her right mind would allow a bunch of seedy middle aged, male music execs who run the music biz to tell their daughters how to dress, behave, view their bodies, define their femininity, relate to boys etc?!

    Yet by creating the illusion that Beyonce, Rihanna, Spears, Minaj etc are real people ‘doing their own thing’ as ‘artists’, and that it is *they* who are setting these trends and defining the next generation of women means that everyone thinks it’s OK…. it’s empowering…. it’s just fashion ….. it’s just pop music, right?! That’s what we are told by the corporate mass media and that’s what we believe. It’s crazy!

    And when you see it you think – how did I ever fall for it and think it really was music instead of really bad sounding psychological warfare against the youth?

    BTW I am not hating either … what I am saying is wonderful news! It’s like being trapped from birth in the most dire venue imaginable drinking watered down, flat, cheap champagne and then discovering there’s a door and you can leave and go somewhere much better!

    Let’s go and take our custom somewhere else!

  2. convo_girl says:

    Do i feel like abandoning culture? Yes and no. Living off the cultural grid would certainly be simpler, easier and quieter but…what kind of life would that be? and what kind of world would we be creating for the younger generation if we just gave up?

    You make a lot of good points about corporate media. Although I agree that it’s problematic both for entertainment and news; I’m not out to destroy corporate media versus teaching people to be media savvy. I also believe in educating people about issues that REALLY matter, and encouraging folks to get involved in changing their communities. As you can see from my blog, I enjoy reality TV but…still prioritize social justice. No plans to live off the cultural grid any time soon.

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