I’m not a big fan of Beyoncé. There, I’ve said it. I only like a handful of her songs, I judge anyone who seems to think it’s acceptable to don the ‘Flawless’ merchandise and it infuriates me that the iPhone can’t comprehend that I ALWAYS want to say ‘fucking’ rather than ‘ducking’ yet somehow manages to autocorrect Beyoncé’s name to include the accent. You’re judging me now, aren’t you? You can’t understand how I don’t fawn over Bey and dub her my hero. This is one of the main reasons girls never want to play out with me. Just stay with me on this one, yeah? I promise I start bumming Beyoncé, just like everyone else, in a couple of paragraphs.
I must have missed the memo when Mrs Carter suddenly, for no particular reason, was appointed Queen (Bey) of the Western world and pop culture in general. One of my best friends is horrified by my admission that I wouldn’t be that arsed about interviewing Beyoncé; she’d only bang on about how she’s blessed by God and that she loves her fans, like in everrrryy other interview she has ever done. There’s nothing wrong with Beyoncé but I just don’t get the obsession. I chuckle at the irony that the most basic thing to do is to post memes mocking basic bitches with images of Beyoncé. Now that I think about it, I strongly believe Jay and Bey may stay together pure solely for the meme industry’s benefit.
However, when she stood in front of that big fuck off feminist sign whilst performing at the VMA’s last month I fell in love with her; I wasn’t bedazzled by Beyoncé the singer but Beyoncé the feminist. It took a few years but with one performance she finally, for me, lived up to her hype.
In a fluffy pop world in which Katy Perry’s shagger of an ex-husband is more comfortable saying he’s a feminist than she is and it’s taken a few years, and the help of Lena Dunham, for Taylor Swift to get that feminism is like, duh – just equal rights for men and women, Beyoncé is as refreshing as that pint of water you down when you wake up to the hangover from hell.
By literally spelling it out, she’s hopefully shut a few people up and put an end to all the tedious ‘Is Beyoncé a feminist?’ articles clogging up the internet. Maybe those who spend their time writing about Beyoncé’s flaws as a 21st century feminist can focus on examining the credentials of all the middle aged white men running this world; surely it’s more important to discuss whether they’re fully on board with bringing down the patriarchy than scrutinising the actions of someone who sings on stage for a living.
The best thing about Beyoncé being a feminist? She’s a bad one. I’m not judging, I’m a bad one too. Feminism is amazing. Women who say they’re ‘not a fan’ of it annoy me. Do you not fancy the idea of equal pay, girl? Or how about living in a society where women aren’t asked what they were wearing when they report a rape? Feminism is, quite simply, the aim for men and women possess equal rights and respect. As Caitlin Moran so wonderfully put it, women rejecting feminism is like if in the 1960’s it had been fashionable for black people to say they ‘weren’t into’ civil rights – “No! I’m not into civil rights! That Martin Luther King is too shouty. He just needs to chill out, to be honest.” There’s an offshoot of perfect feminists who seem to think it’s healthy to criticise their peers also working towards achieving the end goal. They don’t wear pink on Wednesday’s; instead they wear their ‘We hate privilege denier Caitlin Moran’s basic, non-intersectional brand of feminism” tees. It needs to stop. It’s snobby and elitist to think one brand of feminism is superior to another. We’re all flawed and yes, those like Caitlin Moran can sometimes neglect women of colour or transgender women in their writing but they’re ensuring feminism is a topic of discussion once again. (Edit: Reading this bit back in 2017 I can’t disagree with 2014 Zoe enough. Shut up, Zoe – feminism that excludes women of colour or transgender women isn’t feminism at all and I shouldn’t have been making excuses for privileged white women profiting from feminism but not doing enough to include ALL women.)
Like I said, feminist wise, Beyoncé is far from perfect; she built her career as Beyoncé Knowles yet felt the need to tour as ‘Mrs Carter’, she’s spoke about crash diets, filters are not enough for her on Instagram, she photoshops and after years of being an alternative to all the barely dressed starlets, she’s started flashing the flash and gyrating on stage. We can forget that in her relationship she’s viewed, by the world, as an equal; both personally and professionally. Jay Z’s decision to omit his misogynistic use of the word ‘bitch’ from future records must surely have been a choice influenced by his wife.
When she takes the stage to sing some of her sometimes seemingly contradictory lyrics, she’s doing so as an alter ego, Sasha Fierce and we should remember to distinguish between her and Beyoncé. It’s lazy to declare “Bow down, bitches” as an anti-feminist slogan – the term isn’t exclusive to one gender; it could easily be directed at her male peers who can’t sell out a tour as quickly as her and those jealous of her success and fortune made in a male dominated industry.
She’s made millions, won countless awards and isn’t short of accolades but the most important thing Beyoncé has done is introduce young girls to the F word. Millions will have watched the VMA’s and realised that beautiful, feminine women can support the battle for equality amongst the sexes.
Emma Watson is absolutely killing it with her UN work and the #HeforShe movement, Vicky B is on a mission to ‘Ban Bossy’ but Beyoncé is far more influential to young women and having her back the movement is a win for feminism. I’ll never sing along to the God awful ‘Single Ladies’ but I’ll sure as hell dance along to Beyoncé’s feminist fiddle.
See also: Polly Vernon’s Hot Feminist