2013 was a big year for Beyoncé. From her Super Bowl performance to her surprise album drop, she has dominated all forms of social media and cemented her title of “Queen Bey.”
For years, the self-proclaimed feminist has been the idol of young girls and independent women. But her most recent self-titled album, Beyoncé, has left many women, myself included, questioning the sincerity of her feminism and wondering if it is all a big marketing strategy.
There is no denying that Beyoncé is a talented artist and beautiful woman. Her songs range from catchy and inspiring to emotional and sad. With female-empowering ballads, such as “Pretty Hurts” and “Run the World (Girls),” Beyoncé has been able to reach the feminist masses and take her place as the current and perceived, “feminist queen.” But is her perceived feminism sincere, or just a ploy to draw in more fans?
On the one hand, Beyoncé included songs like, “Pretty Hurts” and “Blue,” which address the pressure women feel from the media and the joys of motherhood, respectively. On the other hand, songs like “Drunk in Love” and “Bow Down” trivialize the abuse of women and perpetuate negative connotations about women by referring to them as “bitches.”
By ordering other women to bow down to her “greatness,” she is only preserving the idea that women should be submissive, whether that be to a man or Beyoncé herself.
Her lyrics are an extension of the idea that women should mindlessly follow, instead of standing up for themselves. Her lyrics do nothing in the way of encouraging women to be strong and independent. The irony of Beyoncé commanding “bitches” to bow down to her after performing electrifying girl-power songs such as “Run the World” is not lost on me.
Perhaps the most shocking part of her recent album was her husband Jay-Z’s contribution to the song “Drunk in Love.” During his verse, Jay-Z raps, “I’m Ike Turner, turn up/Baby know I don’t play, now eat the cake, Anna Mae/Said, ‘Eat the cake, Anna Mae!’ ”
This is a direct reference to a scene where Ike Turner shoves cake in his wife Tina Turner’s face and commands her to eat it. Anna Mae is Tina’s real name. Many people are aware of the violent relationship that Ike and Tina had, and trivializing this violence by rapping about it alongside your husband in a highly sexualized song sends a disturbing message. It tells the public that violent actions, like Ike’s, do not deserve to be rebuked, but instead should made into a pop culture joke.
The rest of Beyoncé’s album is filled with sexual innuendos and recurring themes of pleasing a man. While I respect that she is a married woman who enjoys sex with her husband, I am concerned about what type of message this sends to young women.
Many of Beyoncé’s fans are young girls who look up to her and value what she has to say. The message that I received from her album is not one of empowerment, but one of hyper-sexualization, submission to a man and inferiority to other women.
With more than 13 million Twitter followers and millions of albums sold worldwide, Beyoncé should use her influence and so-called “feminist powers” to positively impact our society, instead of spreading negative and confusing messages. I would prefer to hear her talk about how women should unite, instead of how we bitches should bow down to the greatness that is Beyoncé.
Natalie Pimblett is a junior political science major.