Anyone who knows me is already aware of my long-time obsession with Beyoncé. So let me start out by admitting my blinding bias where she is concerned. I’ve loved her feminist anthems since she was in Destiny’s Child and way before she started referring to herself as a feminist publicly and re-creating iconic women’s rights images on Instagram. Having said that it should come as no surprise that her latest album has made me ecstatically happy all summer long—and it’s not just because of her perfect voice and catchy beats.
In an industry and media landscape that still very much thrives on female objectification and stereotypes of what it means to be a feminist, Beyoncé’s recent feminist awakening has been amazing to witness.
There are those who can’t seem to fathom how a woman can claim to be a feminist while singing about sex and dancing provocatively, because you know, real feminists are prudes, right? Never mind the difference between a woman acting out a male fantasy versus expressing her own desires. But I digress. Does she address a diverse range of women’s issues? No. Is she the perfect feminist? No. I challenge you to tell me who is. But like it or not, Beyoncé has made feminism sexy and I for one think it’s a good thing.
While there are some kick-ass celebrity feminists like Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham to name a few, most young starlets seem to reject the categorization seemingly believing feminism is synonymous with hating men. Gee, I wonder where they got that idea. Admitting you’re a feminist inevitably induces some cringe-worthy reactions from those who don’t really understand the word. But what Beyoncé has done is make the word less mysterious and scary. She has literally put feminism in the spotlight and made it look cool. I don’t mean to oversimplify the issue or dilute feminism into something pink, cute and trendy. Nothing can replace the hard work of activists fighting for true equality in the broad sense of the word. However, this pop culture feminism is a really exciting development and a step towards broader understanding and acceptance.
If it makes more celebrities—like most recently Taylor Swift—come out as feminists and it makes the concept exciting for young girls and boys watching at home, than I am a believer in Beyoncé’s feminism. At the very least it has got people talking about feminism, what it stands for and how it is evolving. Of course it’s not enough to simply call yourself a feminist. You have to walk the walk too. But as this positive conversation continues, I’m hoping a deeper understanding and more concrete actions relating to the diverse goals as they relate to gender, race, sexuality, culture and socioeconomics will follow.