First, let me say this: I love me some Beyonce. Oh, I've tried to find fault to say she's shallow, to hate on her overt sexuality, to argue that she's not the best example for little girls to follow. But then I get sprinkled with B's Girl Power Pixie Dust and pay attention to the details: Beyonce's hustle and grind, her dedication to using her songs to empower women, her ability to make being a black girl with curves not only okay, but sexy desirable. And I like her again.
Such was the case when she debuted the video for her new single, Run the World (Girls) on American Idol. Mari, Lila and I stood in front of the TV literally mesmerized by her moves, by the beat and especially by the chorus “Who run the world? Girls!” For real, for real? I'd drop it like it's on fiyah if I heard that bumpin' in the club (actually, we get out so infrequently that I'd pop it to The Star Spangled Banner if a sitter and a couple of overpriced, watered down drinks were involved, but that's another post for another time). And hell, the chorus was catchy and the lyrics replete with shout outs to female college grads, mothers who bear babies and then get back to the business of taking care of business, career women who get paid, and ladies who create and hold down nations advance a sentiment I can get behind. Plus, I’m never mad if my girls are snapping their fingers and shouting, Who runs the world? GIRLS!
Of course, Beyonce is always going to have her detractors and one, vlogger 9TeenPercent, was sweeping across the internet this week with her video post, Beyonce Run the World (LIES), in which she goes in hard on the entertainer for suggesting that girls are in positions of power. In this thoughtful, snarky, whip-smart video, 9TeenPercent insists it's premature to be making victory anthems claiming girls rule the world when domestic violence, misogyny, workplace discrimination, sexism, gendercide and a host of other societal ills plague women.
I see her point believe me I do. And I appreciate it love that she's calling out the massive inequities we women face at every turn. In our homes. In our communities. In our country. In our workplace. In this world.
But I'm not ready to toss Beyonce under a Greyhound for Run the World (Girls). Gyrating, skimpy clothes, and overtly sexual imagery notwithstanding, the girl has consistently used her music (and toured with a badass all-female band) to advance female empowerment Irreplaceable, Single Ladies, Survivor, Independent Women. Each speaks specifically to the very things I work hard every day to teach my girls leave the jerk if he's not treating your right; get yourself some goals; fill your bank account with your own money; embrace friendship because friends, real ones, keep you sane; use your voice stand up for yourself.
And I kinda like to think that though we women still have quite a way to go before we can claim to run the world, we do have the power to change things to work together as a collective to reset minds, change legislation, hold folk accountable. To use our feminine selves to rethink and reshape and dream a new world.
I think Natasha Theory of The B[E]-Girl Manifesta was spot-on in this, her commentary on this whole Run the World (Girls) video controversy, entitled, Why I Like My Feminism Gray:
I think any form of empowerment starts with an internal decision to be empowered. Beyonce's song is just thata creative, aesthetic, call to empowerment. NineteenPercent thinks Beyonce is a liar because she failed to speak about all of the challenges faced by women. I think Beyonce is an artist doing what artists docreating her vision of what reality should be.
Word. And I'm okay with Beyonce for that.
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Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.
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Really great post! I’m not down with Beyonce’s over-sexualized image either…that’s a disappointment, but I admire her strength and the messages to women that she puts out in many of her amazing songs. She is most definitely a powerful voice for feminism and female empowerment and I, for one, love her! The same as you, in spite of some minor faults, I think she is an amazing woman with incredible potential to both rally and lead young women. Regardless of all other factors, I can say without question that her music has been inspiring for me and for many women in my life. â™¥
I LOVED that video when I first saw it, and I still do. I get the criticism, but she is an artist and her job is to entertain. A song about all the problems women still face is not entertaining or inspiring to her young fans. I am all for women blasting that “we run this!”. I mean come on, we create life! (with a partner, but still, we are the vessel)
Bey can’t do much wrong with me. There is a lot worse (sex wise) out there and some part of me just thinks because she is a curvy, brown woman who doesn’t apologize for her sexiness the media can’t deal with that all the time.
Yes. I agree. My days of side-eyeing ended Beyonce long ago. I’ve been team Beyonce every since I gave her a close examination. I spent some time on facebook a few days ago, getting disrespected and berated for my views on Beyonce’s music, this particular song, and the power women have and can take in this world. My opinions were much like yours empowerment starts within, and music has historically been a big part of creating an empowering mindset. Anyway, it ended with an unfriending, and a new sense of understanding of the original FB term “friend” (but that’s another comment on another blog:)
I encourage my girls to listen to the songs of empowerment that Beyonce or any other artists release. The BS from Beyonce or any other artists, doesn’t make it to their playlist, but I might secretly jam to it:)
THIS —> ” For real, for real? Id drop it like its on fiyah if I heard that bumpin in the club (actually, we get out so infrequently that Id pop it to â€œThe Star Spangled Bannerâ€ if a sitter and a couple of overpriced, watered down drinks were involved, but thats another post for another time).”
Had tears coming out my eyes. Denene, you know I feel you! LOL.
But rare date night aside, I do love Beyonce and consider myself her unofficial fan club president. Ultimate stan. But even when you push past her music and artistry and look at her personal life, what is there to say? She found a man, loved him, got married first, and keeps to herself. She’ll have a kid when she’s ready. She’s an excellent example to little girls that, “Honey, it’s okay if you do you for a little while.” She’s taking more control of her career, and showing girls that even if you want to be a singer, you can have a perfume line, clothing deal, direct your own movies, PRODUCE your own movies, star in your own movies, etc. She’s the real deal.
I wish there was a way to like your whole reply!
but this i love –> “she found a man, loved him, got married first, and keeps to herself. Shell have a kid when shes ready. Shes an excellent example to little girls that, ‘Honey, its okay if you do you for a little while.'”
Especially with the latest article out (think i read it on CNN) about how married people are now in the minority and my generation does not value marriage before having children.
While I still just can’t get with this song, I would never fault Beyonce herself. The girl is bad! As you said, she gas those empowering songs that sooner or later you find yourself singing. And loving it!
Intellectual materialism…she like most critics is giving her opinion about a piece of art. We all know how subjective art is, and to take it out of context, and attack the artist is to search for a sacrificial lamb. This said lamb is used as a pedestal stand on and amp your voice up. Beyonce and her lyrics are like Monet and his paintings. And speaking of art, Monet help start the impressionist movement by creating work that went against the common grain. His vision help change peoples idea of art and life, which eventually change the landscape of the world and society. With out impressionism there would be no modernism, which means NO PROGRESSION. So Beyonce like Monet is changing the landscape with the best tool she has, her lyrics. And women around the world gaining access to media can CHOOSE to consume Beyonce and at-least spark the idea of independence in their minds, maybe even start a revolution. And im pretty damn sure from looking around, that Beyonce lightweight does run the world. lol….And I am pretty sure she supports organizations that help women as well.
SHAMELESS PLUG – Beyonce Ft Rohaun “Flaws and all” (freestyle painting)
Yes, Yes, Yes, Rohaun!!!
WORD. Great post.
This discussion was a hot topic on my FB page – I agree with a lot of the comments on both sides. But Natasha Theory’s opine above was spot on. I also love that Beyonce is employing a cadre of professionally trained female dancers to back her up (shout out to Ashley Everett-her lead dancer, Ailey and Juiliard phenom). At least give her props for that… they could have been nekkid in a “tip-drill-lil wayne” video… I’m just sayin’
This quote right here: “Gyrating, skimpy clothes, and overtly sexual imagery” is reason enough not to support or make this a national anthem for young girls.
What type of messages are we trying to send to our black young girls? How come it’s acceptable for women to be considered powerful while being dressed half-naked and gyrating our hips? What powerful male power figures do you see bare chested doing a freaky deaky dance?
No, I’m sorry, but real powerful women know that it’s more than a song, skimpy clothes and overt sexuality that empowers them.
Real powerful women know that they are a child of God, and as such anything is possible. In addition to that, powerful women are kind, virtuous, compassionate, honest, and charitable.
That’s the true lesson that starts at home, not through celebrities. As far as the inequality that still exist in the world for women, don’t just talk about it, do something. Work for charities, donate money, be a mentor to young girls. “Gyrating, skimpy clothes, and overtly sexual imagery” aren’t the answers.
thank you for this!! I’ve gotten SO much heat over the past few days for defending this song and Bey herself. @Tequita: why do some women get to define what is empowering, what is feminist, what “real powerful women” are or should do? Why isn’t the point of feminism to allow women to define these things for themselves? Why can’t “real powerful women” gyrate, wear revealing outfits, push out babies, go to work, be independent, and all that? To me, that’s what the song symbolizes – girls can do all of it if that’s what they want to do. We don’t always have to look at what men are doing to define what women can do. Beyonce has done that, and done it on her own terms. We should celebrate that, not tear her down.
Word. Yes she can be a ultra-sexualized at times, but you can’t knock her hustle or her message. She IS a good example for women and little girls — definitely someone to look up to. Not to mention that we don’t hear bad things about her in the media, and where there is drama — although it’s few and far between — she handles it really, really well.
*finger pointing to the air* Right, right
I’m a big believer of faking it until you make it. Who Runs the World? Girls! Booyah. You have to say it out loud for it to be so. I dedicated a post to the notion on my website. Beyonce is no political maverick or an academic super genius, she is what she is: an artist. I think to try and make her more than she is dilutes the message. B is good at making songs that we can rock to so lets rock. We’ll leave the educating to the educators and the leading to the leaders. As women we all need an anthem and Beyonce has provided that for us. We have our theme song so now lets go and conquer the world.
the Super Sistah
I’m a big believer of faking it until you make it. Who Runs the World? Girls! Booyah. You have to say it out loud for it to be so. I dedicated a post to the notion on my website. Beyonce is no political maverick or an academic super genius, she is what she is: an artist. I think to try and make her more than she is dilutes the message. B is good at making songs that we can rock to so lets rock. We’ll leave the educating to the educators & the leading to the leaders. As women we all need an anthem and Beyonce has provided that for us. We have our theme song so now lets go and conquer the world.
the Super Sistah
The rampant sexism through the entire comments thread is highly disconcerting. You shouldn’t be striving to rule the world but working for a more equitable solution. And the degradation of male society should pose a concern as well, if for nothing other than more male unemployment, more violence against everyone, women included. And with respect to violence, even with domestic assaults, rapes, gendercide and the like, the male violent death rate dwarfs the counter. For all the female inclusiveness and equity I hear about, this rubbish flies straight in the face of it. A generation of males with no male role model should make everyone shudder, societies were destroyed in such ways. However there is hope, some truly strong intelligent women seeing through their own sexism and bias and actually promoting equality, where lucky to have these women.