Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Mrs. Carter Show. Man, let me tell y’all why I stan for Beyoncé Knowles Carter.
The woman empowers me. She makes me feel strong because I am a woman, and not in spite of it.
In my experience, many, if not most women younger than 40 define themselves as contemporary women — those who can be assertive,
sexually liberated, both brainy and beautiful, both around the way and upper echelon. I think Beyoncé successfully bridges the gap between women who personify traditional values, bra-burning feminists and these contemporary women.
I heard somewhere that if an artist catches you at a critical point in your life, you’ll stick with them forever. Well, ‘4’ was the album and Beyoncé is that artist who has recorded the soundtrack of my life over the last few years. I’ve liked Beyoncé since the Destiny’s Child days but I really became a fan after spending some quality time with ‘4’. In that period, I gained clarity about love and relationships, and I confronted my negative conceptions of womanhood. Though I’d shutter to say it aloud, I admit that in the deep recesses of my mind, I associated femininity with weakness. I thought, for example, that traditional women (stay at home moms, cook, clean, and serve type ladies) devalued our struggle. I was wrong.
I appreciate that Beyoncé embraces the entire spectrum of femininity, and that painted a clearer picture for me.
I can be bad if I want / I can do wrong if I want / I can live fast if I want / I can go slow all night long / I’m a grown woman / I can do whatever I want
I realized there wasn’t just one way to express womanhood and certainly more than one way to conceive of strength and power. There are socially and culturally constructed standards, but those are constructed – negotiated and decided by society. They are not genetic.
Speaking of genetics, I often hear these expressions of disdain for parenting girls, and it makes me sad because typically, the excuse is no more complex than “girls are difficult.” I understand that we tend to identify first with what or who we already are, so I get why a man might wish for a son. It is disconcerting though to hear women dismiss the beauty in having little girls and raising strong, proud women because “boys are easier.” Certainly, the world can be an ugly place for girls, but must it start this early? Imagine that it is your little girl who changes the world for the better, and it’s because you taught her from the jump how dope, and not how difficult girls are.
Beyoncé said in her ‘Life Is But A Dream’ HBO documentary that feminism isn’t about changing laws per se, it’s about changing the way we think. We are conditioned to think of women as one-dimensional beings. She’s either a wholesome homemaker with a man and some babies, or she’s ruining the family dynamic and the social order with her divergent interests and ambitions. Here’s a counter paradigm for your consideration: women are human beings first. This means we won’t all fit within the narrow boundaries that patriarchy has set up for us. Women make up 51% of the population; we exist as more than adornments for men. We are partners in this life.
While our strengths are sometimes different from men’s, they are strengths nonetheless. We have babies and run businesses, we are supportive wives, family providers and heads of households — with or without men present. We are both assertive and submissive when appropriate and with whom we consider appropriate. The beauty of modern feminism — that which Beyoncé represents so well — is that none of these qualities is inconsistent with what it is to be a woman. No one dictates to us what our role in this life is; we make those decisions for ourselves. We are grown women. We can do whatever we want.
All hail King B for bringing home such a powerful message.