So the feminists are all in a snit. Again. Not at Congress. Not even at the IMF. Nope. This time, it’s Beyonce.
There’s this video that’s showing up all over the facebook, where some woman is “calling out” Beyonce for selling us “a bill of goods” in her song “Run the World (Girls).” Because (spoiler alert) it turns out, we don’t.
I know, I know! I was pretty upset, because I, too depend on pop singers for my social analysis. Here’s the thing, though: this feels to me a lot like the culture of calling out that’s becoming more and more prevalent among young feminists. The idea here is that you can always provide a better feminist analysis than anyone else, so instead of doing work for social justice, we point out each other’s mistakes and missteps to prove that we can do feminism better.
In this case, I don’t think Beyonce was claiming to be “doing” feminism. There’s not a lot of street cred to be had by offering a deeper feminist analysis than someone who wasn’t doing one, but I guess if making a video about it makes you feel better, than do it.
And we can “call out” 90s girl power, while we’re at it…because the Spice Girls are still relevant? But just like we said while girl power was happening, it’s not the problem. Kind of like wearing pink mini skirts or liking sex with men aren’t the problem. Beyonce’s not John Lennon, and she’d not making any claims that her music is changing the world. And I would argue that giving young girls (or girls of any age) an empowering message set to a beat they can dance to, giving them a couple of minutes to feel pride in being a girl, because yeah, they are growing up in a culture that fucks them up and devalues them and no, they don’t know it yet, and a lot of them will never realize it – but giving them a “victory anthem”, it isn’t such a bad thing.
And just like there were plenty of us who looked at the Spice Girls’ platform sneakers and pigtails and realized that girl power was a fashion trend and not a social movement but “Wannabe” was still really fun to sing with your friends in the car, there are girls out there in the world today who love Beyonce’s music and it’s not our place to tell them that listening to “Run the World (Girls)” is bad or anti-feminist. It actually does us a disservice, because it feeds into the myth that being a feminist is about being negative and calling people out all the time and never having any fun because you’re always pointing out how anti-feminist the fun stuff is.
(And Commander in Chief was stupid and poorly written. Impact on sexism aside, it deserved to be cancelled.)
Here’s the video, in case you haven’t seen it yet. Thoughts?