Author: has written 5265 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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66 Responses

  1. peacocks
    peacocks May 4, 2010 at 3:35 pm |

    want all her underwear in this video

  2. Michikoko
    Michikoko May 4, 2010 at 4:04 pm |

    Hmm, Lady Gaga gets played up all the time (with praise for her “postmodern” societal critiques) but when a WOC artist makes a video, the analysis is put off for another time…

    Speaking of WOC artists, haven’t seen M.I.A.’s “Born Free” video mentioned in the blogs. Why not?

    http://www.racialicious.com/2010/04/16/femme-fights-%E2%80%98feminists-womanists%E2%80%99-battle-across-racial-lines/

  3. kerrry
    kerrry May 4, 2010 at 4:48 pm |

    Was recently at a conference where many women were contending that Beyonce’s independence/critique on being a woman has decreased since her Destiny’s Child days. I think this video clearly says otherwise. I think she should keep on doing her.

  4. Eneya
    Eneya May 4, 2010 at 6:38 pm |

    This is one very interesting video.
    Still, I am dubious about it. While I relate to the fact that women play all these roles, postures and ideas, for the sake of love/because are taught so/because this is perceived as normal female behavior/social roles and so forth, I also see how easily it slips just to “yeah, half naked, sexy, thin female, who changes clothes and does all the sexy stereotypes for women chores from the good housewife idea in America in the 50s, hot… also, I can watch it with the volume turned off”.

    The video is interesting because women and men will perceive it in entirely different way. “Boobs, postures, sexy, stereotypical, pop, no idea in it, just selling it with sex” were the reactions of 5 completely different people I discussed this video so far and “even performing stereotypes wouldn’t give us love, respect and good relations” is something that it’s not THAT obvious or you need to have any idea about these things before you watch the video.

    So – a feminist issue song (as “If I was a boy”. although it irritated the shit out of me to some extent but I still liked it… so most men are dicks and if you were, you would have been a dick too?) or just semi-feminism? It’s really hard to pin it down, a bit like Gaga’s videos and I have the bad feeling most of the feminist ideas are more make believe and wishful than actually being there for real.
    (Also, is it only me who finds “Videophone” extremely offensive in the way it depicts men as voyeurs, with no faces and identities? Again, so semi-feminist that it’s just semi.)

    This is very, very mixed-up text, I apologize.

  5. Sarah
    Sarah May 5, 2010 at 5:24 am |

    She’s attempting all these tasks that fit her gender role in order to please her man, and make him love her and need her, and all of them end in disaster and make her miserable. I see this as more of a comment on how society teaches us that we exist to please men- and we must carry out certain gender roles in order to please him- and the negative effect that it has on women. I would say that her outfits were a further extension of this- she’s dressing to please ‘him’.

    However, I don’t think this will be understood and conveyed to male audiences.

  6. Eneya
    Eneya May 5, 2010 at 7:16 am |

    Exactly my point.
    There are so many examples of this type of behavior. Women magazines, love comedies, pop songs and performers like Beyonce or The Pussycat dolls. All of them are doing it the same way. While saying something positive to women (or pretending to), they are doing it in a entirely man-pleasing way visually, contradicting everything they said, so it’s like they target only male-target audience and the women subjects are from just-add-feminism pack.

    Am I supposed to believe that her words AND ignore her visual actions? Why? If the text is really that important, she could have made it more in tune with the idea in it, I think. She is extremely popular singer but she still fails to show something different than “kinda-feminist-ish but still male-orientated”.

    Not happy.

  7. olivia walker
    olivia walker May 5, 2010 at 7:49 am |

    I think Beyonce is very liberating. As for the video a lot of women wonder the same thing. Beauty, brains, butt, etc and no love or no proper love from a man.

    Jill, I too have contemplated about writing about Beyonce the liberator of women or at least being honest with them as to what the world is about.

    As for her days after Destiny’s child she is singing about what you will become after you follow the Destiny advice. I look at Beyonce as evolving.

  8. Samantha B.
    Samantha B. May 5, 2010 at 8:57 am |

    I dunno, Eneya, there’s always been a strong link between sexuality and music and dance. I don’t know that Beyonce should be more obligated to hide her sexuality than is typical for many male pop artists. That starts to sound a little slut shame-y. And I think the argument here is that we can’t live our lives worrying about what straight men think (your critique is pretty heteronormative) so to turn around and say that straight men won’t get it reads to me as counter to the point.

  9. Eneya
    Eneya May 5, 2010 at 9:02 am |

    OK, do I have such high expectations that I don’t find semi-feminism liberating or refreshing? Do I read this piece in an incorrect way? Is there a proper way to analyze this???
    I don’t get it, really.

  10. Samantha B.
    Samantha B. May 5, 2010 at 9:26 am |

    Eneya, but you really have to explain why it’s semi-feminism beyond saying Beyonce isn’t wearing enough clothes so she should shut her mouth. If you look at her video for “If I Were A Boy,”
    ( http://www.metacafe.com/watch/sy-1861298200/beyonce_if_i_were_a_boy_official_music_video/ ) the dude is pretty suggestively dressed and very conventionally attractive, but it’s different somehow for a dude. I agree that it’s unfair that women of all shapes and sizes don’t get play as pop stars, but I don’t know that this means Beyonce isn’t allowed to say anything because she’s too conventionally pretty and isn’t wearing a habit.

  11. Rebecca
    Rebecca May 5, 2010 at 10:41 am |

    I agree with Sarah. In the video Beyonce fails at every housewifely chore she attempts, EXCEPT for dusting off her many Grammys. The music even cuts out during this scene for emphasis. For the first time we see BB genuinely smile and relax, proud of her accomplishments, and then we see her dancing gleefully in the bath. All of her attempts at pleasing her man through traditional roles have led to disaster and frustration, but she finds true self satisfaction in the success of her music career. And in the end she decides NOT to care what the man thinks of her, because there’s no real reason he shouldn’t love her.

    Yes, Beyonce shows off her beautiful body and her sexuality in every video, but is this inherently anti-feminist? If she’s doing so in a way that emphasizes her confidence and independence, I have no problem with it.

  12. Holy!
    Holy! May 5, 2010 at 11:46 am |

    If Beyonce is really a feminist then she made a very bizarre choice for a husband.

  13. Samantha B.
    Samantha B. May 5, 2010 at 12:14 pm |

    Holy!, the same has been said about Hillary Rodham Clinton many times. It’s not really the business of feminists to judge women by their husbands, I tend to feel like. Also, most of us are imperfect feminists and products of the culture in which we live, but I don’t think I’m going to take away someone’s right to make a feminist statement because she is or is not imperfect. I don’t think it should ever be a zero sum game.

  14. Natalie
    Natalie May 5, 2010 at 12:30 pm |

    Eneya–

    For me it’s significant that not only does B.B. fail at all her homemaking tasks except dusting her grammys, she’s also crying in much of the video.

    If a man looks at that and is just like “Yep, sexy lady being sexy FOR ME” then perhaps that says some disturbing things about his sexuality and apathy towards women’s feelings.

  15. switchintoglide
    switchintoglide May 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm |

    When people say that Beyonce’s looks and actions is this video are all for men, I think it erases the homoeroticism here. Could it be possible that *gasp* her performance could be attractive to women too? And maybe if she’s singing to women she could be performing for them to some extent too? Don’t write her off simply because she looks awesome.

  16. Shelby
    Shelby May 5, 2010 at 1:32 pm |

    Eneya, I don’t quite get why you’re assuming Beyonce is or should be trying to make a feminist video. Has she ever identified as feminist? Does she owe it to someone to make this video about capital ‘F’ Feminism?

    Beyonce makes songs that become anthems for Black women. Sure, I don’t think most of the messages are exactly liberating, but her music and videos create&enhance community. And, yeah, a sense of solidarity that “we” are in this together. And I like that.

    Also, she’s hot and PLENTY of people of all genders/sexualities enjoy looking at her body/make up/fashion.

  17. Eneya
    Eneya May 5, 2010 at 1:45 pm |

    I have never ever said that she needs to stop what she is doing or to shut up and I wouldn’t say it. Please do not put words or meanings I haven’t said or implied in my mouth.

    The issue for me isn’t the clothes, it’s the fact that the statement from the video isn’t clear enough for people who are not feminists or don’t understand how hard and hurtful sometimes performing femininity is.
    Points for her for at least trying, yes but trying does not mean succeeding, so bear that in mind.

    This is not the first song of Beyonce I watch, I have seen “Put a ring on it” (really strong message, indeed, referring to women as “it”), “If I were a boy” (actually I liked it) and also I have seen “Videophone” and “Telephone”. And in all of them I have the same feeling – “is this strong, independent, successful woman character I see in front of me real or it’s just a way to attract women to her work?”.

    When I watch dudes making music, usually there are women dancing around the person (to emphasize their masculinity), they are objectified and overly sexualized. Usually the dudes (or dudes) just sits, normally dressed and girls are all over him/them (usually he just ignores them).
    When we watch some pop music being done by women (Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Rihanna and so on) we see women portrayed visually in the same way but this time even the singer has the same attitude and is dressed as the other dancers.
    Why?
    For me this is (at least) unpleasant and giving food for thought.

    I am not saying it’s bad they are trying… I am saying I don’t accept it uncritically and I am dubious.
    @switchintoglide I am truly sorry but I don’t think that women pop song videos are made this way with homoeroticism in mind. So rarely pop culture is really created for women that the idea that it’s not only for women but for lesbians interest… sounds good but highly doubtful.

    OK, if I am mistaken, if I am too critical – fine. I’d love that be the case.

  18. Joan Kelly
    Joan Kelly May 5, 2010 at 2:10 pm |

    I have some agreement with Eneya but also just wanted to point out – she’s responding to a post that read:

    “Someday, I will write a whole post detailing my Very Feminist Thoughts On Beyonce. Today is not that day. However, Beyonce is very pretty and this video is neat. Pop culture criticism!”

    Why is Eneya out of line for addressing exactly what is in the post: the video; the idea that there is a connection between what Beyonce is doing/singing and feminism; and criticism of same?

    Don’t agree with her take? Okay. But how’s that the same as making it about whether she’s trying to tell Beyonce what to do? Or is it somehow okay for people to try and tell Beyonce what to do so long as it’s “keep doing what you’re doing!”? If approval isn’t unacceptably bossy, neither is criticism.

  19. Samantha B.
    Samantha B. May 5, 2010 at 2:52 pm |

    @Joan Kelly, where does someone say that Eneya is trying to tell Beyonce what to do?

    @Eneya, I will refer you to the Google Image listings for Usher:
    http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=usher&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=_MrhS9y3C8GC8gbZru3yDA&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=5&ved=0CDoQsAQwBA
    As I said, it’s constraining that women in pop seem to have to look conventionally attractive on the order of Beyonce, but I’m just not buying that very conventionally attractive male musicians are “normally dressed.” I can think of very few pop stars that are “normally dressed” because, for better or worse, it seems like part of their job is to inhabit fantasies for us. I don’t see a lot of pop stars in, say, khakis and a polo or whatever is that constitutes “normally dressed” in American terms.

  20. Joan Kelly
    Joan Kelly May 5, 2010 at 3:17 pm |

    “Eneya, I don’t quite get why you’re assuming Beyonce is or should be trying to make a feminist video. Has she ever identified as feminist? Does she owe it to someone to make this video about capital ‘F’ Feminism?”

    My reading skills are failing me if the gist of that comment means something other than “why is Eneya talking about this video maybe not being feminist?”

  21. octogalore
    octogalore May 5, 2010 at 3:24 pm |

    I think both Eneya and Joan Kelly make good points.

    “While saying something positive to women (or pretending to), they are doing it in a entirely man-pleasing way visually” is true for many things that many of us (including me) do — so no criticism from me for Beyonce. That said, I don’t think the video is anything beyond, as Eneya terms it, semi-feminist. And that said, I don’t think it’s Beyonce’s responsibility to do anything beyond that. But I also don’t think we need to pretend this does.

    As someone caught between the “sex positive” and “radical feminist” branches of the analysis of porn and its softer core variants, I don’t have a strong opinion about what Beyonce’s content needs to be. In my book, as a female business owner, she’s a good feminist example for that reason alone.

    But adding irony or explanatory value onto T&A — coming from someone known to capitalize on doing exactly that — isn’t a complicated feminist statement, as much as adding a smart woman’s twist to an old story.

  22. Samantha B.
    Samantha B. May 5, 2010 at 3:31 pm |

    @Joan Kelly, I think that’s about disagreement. Nobody said that Eneya should shut up, but it’s perfectly acceptable to disagree with one another, and ask each other to sharpen or clarify our arguments. It does bother me that on male dominated political blogs, they will come just short of eviscerating one another and then carry on roughly as friends in the next post. And yet on female-dominated blogs, any dissent will often be construed as problematic. Are we all so socialized to be sugar and spice and everything nice that we’re reflexively uncomfortable with any disagreement? I hope not, because that would make me sad.

  23. Eneya
    Eneya May 5, 2010 at 3:32 pm |

    OK… there is a bigger chance to see someone dressed like Justin Timberlake, Usher or Eminem on the street or on a party than ever bumping in someone dressed like Beyonce, Christina or Britney unless the party is “tell us your fetish” or Helloween. So while “normal” could be stretched for the sake of the argument a bit about male performers cloth choices but definitely doesn’t include the female examples.

    I quote:
    Samantha B.
    “Eneya, but you really have to explain why it’s semi-feminism beyond saying Beyonce isn’t wearing enough clothes so she should shut her mouth.” – this is called extrapolating – I din;t say or imply that Beyonce has to shut up or that her clothes are the issue.

  24. Holy!
    Holy! May 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm |

    “Holy!, the same has been said about Hillary Rodham Clinton many times. It’s not really the business of feminists to judge women by their husbands, I tend to feel like.”

    I’m not judging Beyonce, nor do I care who she’s married too. However, if she is a feminist, then her choice of husbands is both counterproductive and hypocritical. There are not two ways about it.

  25. Holy!
    Holy! May 5, 2010 at 4:29 pm |

    Okay, maybe my question to you is this: Are there two different seats of acceptable behavior for men? One in which you apply to non-intimates and one that you apply to men you are in a relationship with?

  26. Holy!
    Holy! May 5, 2010 at 4:38 pm |

    There is a very big difference between domestic violence victims–who often lack the means or the support to leave an abusive relationship–and well heeled women like Beyonce and Hillary who could clearly have a wide choice in who they wanted to date and marry, and yet still decide to stay with their mates.

  27. Holy!
    Holy! May 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm |

    But I think that the men themselves should be held accountable for their behavior — the women they’re involved with shouldn’t be.

    Of course men should be responsible for their own behavior; however, if you are with someone who clearly is problematic (to put it mildly) to feminism, and you have the means and support to leave, yet, you choose to stay…then you are condoning their behavior.

    The only reason I point this out is due to my own personal experiences with feminist friends who have criticized my behavior on occasion, often rightly, yet they tolerate much worse in their own mate–simply because its “my man.”

  28. groggette
    groggette May 5, 2010 at 5:36 pm |

    Because no women with money or fame have ever been in abusive relationships….

  29. Joan Kelly
    Joan Kelly May 5, 2010 at 5:46 pm |

    Samantha, I…no longer understand what you and I are talking about. There’s nothing in your last comment that I disagree with, but I read it as something you were saying as a counterpoint (or whatever the right word is) to what I said, so that’s why I’m saying I don’t know what just happened, but okay.

    And I agree with everything Octo said, except for the part about being somewhere between sex-positive and radical feminist. I mean, *I’m* not somewhere in between, but otherwise everything Octogalore wrote pretty much sums up my feelings on this topic.

    I’d also like to note – the last I knew, Beyonce hired all female musicians for her live shows. I find none of her songs liberating myself, nor any of her videos that I’ve seen, nor is there even, in my view, a chance in hell that it’s in any way aimed at the potential lesbian or bisexual gaze. I’m still sexually attracted to her, still love several of her songs and videos (I am a pop music lover), and I like very much that she makes a *point* to hire all female musicians. And making it a point to do so is different than just “oh hey the world is all fair and equal and everything and I just ‘happened’ to hire all women.”

    None of that changes the fact that a song focused on the love of a man (even if calling him dumb for withholding it), with a video of those particular visuals, is not anything to do with potential female liberation. I watched it with the sound off (I was at my desk at work), and I would never have gotten “she was bad at all the stereotyped lady-chores so that’s kind of a rejection of enforced femininity” out of what I saw. What I got was “jesus she’s fucking hot although I’m a little weirded out by the fact that it felt to me like all of the hyper-feminized ‘looks’ she adopted were associated, for me, with white women?” I mean she’s a dead wringer for Bettie Page in the one outfit, even though she’s got a blond wig on instead of Page’s black hair. And although I have nothing insightful to say about that aspect, I felt weird also about just not-mentioning it, because it was something I did notice.

  30. Eneya
    Eneya May 5, 2010 at 5:49 pm |

    Or there is no such thing as Stockholm syndrome…

  31. Holy!
    Holy! May 5, 2010 at 5:54 pm |

    Is Beyonce suffering from “Stockholm Syndrome?” Is she being abused? Is Hillary Clinton? Is there any proof at all of this?

  32. Erica
    Erica May 5, 2010 at 6:12 pm |

    A few things I noticed: at the beginning of the video, B is fixing a car, which is not a “traditional” role in the slightest (yes, she does fail at it, but still interesting).

    Also, who says she’s singing this to a man? (I’m not particularly saying this is a feminist video, or that B is particularly feminist — I’d call her “post feminist” myself — but I just find it interesting that we all assumed she *was* singing to a man).

  33. Anti-Intellect
    Anti-Intellect May 5, 2010 at 6:13 pm |

    Holy!

    For what it’s worth Jay Z did take Beyonce’s name in marriage. They had their names legally changed to Beyonce Knowles-Carter and Sean Knowles-Carter.

    That’s sorta feminist isn’t if not egalitarian.

  34. Eneya
    Eneya May 5, 2010 at 6:57 pm |

    Oh, let me see, people are unchangeable quantities and you never, ever made compromises because you love somebody or because you have kids or because you are afraid of the public relation or it will have a serious negative backlash you your work and everything you stand for?
    People change… always and not always for the best.

    I have no idea who is the husband of Beyonce but I know they both are public figures, which means that not everything you read is true, especially when we speak about celebrities, whose lives are very much orchestrated.

    So, no, I have no ideas what are their reasons but neither do you and quick judgments aren’t adding anything to the conversation.

  35. Jackie Jormp Jomp
    Jackie Jormp Jomp May 5, 2010 at 7:14 pm |

    @Holy! ”There is a very big difference between domestic violence victims–who often lack the means or the support to leave an abusive relationship–and well heeled women like Beyonce and Hillary who could clearly have a wide choice in who they wanted to date and marry, and yet still decide to stay with their mates.”

    So what you’re saying is because she’s ‘well heeled’ she shouldn’t have married the man she fell in love with (and who I understand supported her through a very serious bout of depression) because he has made anti-feminist statements in the past? One might argue that having a wife, who may well be more successful and indeed wealthier than him without feeling threatened is a feminist ideal in itself.

  36. Holy!
    Holy! May 5, 2010 at 9:36 pm |

    So what you’re saying is because she’s ‘well heeled’ she shouldn’t have married the man she fell in love with (and who I understand supported her through a very serious bout of depression)

    Who are you referring to?

  37. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 5, 2010 at 9:39 pm |

    I consider myself a feminist. I’m all about equal rights, though I’m economically infinitely more conservative than pretty much everyone here. Consequently, this latter half of my personality sent me on a path through a couple business schools where people are predominantly conservative and sexist and that funny ignorant-of-how-racist-they-are racist and HOLY FUCKING CLASSIST, BATMAN.

    There’s so much you have to do to put up with it to get by if you want to stay on this track (because I have yet to see a blue-leaning b-school), but somewhere along the way, you end up making a few friends. Some people just hate women (and other marginalized groups) and they’re not worth being friends with. But a large portion of those individuals have been so privileged that they’ve never even given it a thought. If I find someone who’s willing to listen to me (and really listen, rather than get defensive) talk about things that are important to me, including feminism and all of my other liberal slants, then I’m not going to ever feel bad for counting them as a friend – or boyfriend, if and when that time comes. That doesn’t mean they have to fit my ideology to a T, and I can’t imagine many people ever will.

    So I’m not abused by these people, but being friends with them (or even dating a handful of them)? It doesn’t make me less feminist just because I choose to put up with it and someone else might not.

    That said, it could be a matter of degree. My friends who use “babe” and are willing to listen to why it makes me squicky might not be in the same realm as Jay-Z. Suffice it to say, however, that Beyonce probs knows him better than I ever will and as a big girl, can make choices of her own about who she does and does not marry.

  38. octogalore
    octogalore May 5, 2010 at 10:24 pm |

    PrettyAmiable — bet I can guess your inspiration for “pretty much.” FYI — there are business schools with a high percentage of socially liberal students, eg in Cambridge. I’m excited that there is someone else here with similar politics, by the sound of your comment.

    I had a ton of not-feminist (as in bad-boy, bad history with women and treating them badly, too much flash and too little substance) boyfriends in business school (was early-20s at the time) and pretty much up until about 30. For marriage, or a life partner, though, it’s a different analysis.

    But at the same time, it’s impossible for outsiders to understand the inner workings of a marriage (where there isn’t some kind of obvious reason like physical abuse). I have a hard time understanding HRC staying with Bill and don’t know much about Jay-Z at all, but don’t feel like either are any of my business to speculate about.

  39. Holy!
    Holy! May 5, 2010 at 10:56 pm |

    Jay Z is a straight up misogynist, and he’s spent most of his career spreading that message to countless millions. But if Bey’s cool with that, more power to her I guess. However, if she has any feminist inclinations, she’ll have to put in ALLOT work to counter her husband’s nonsense.

  40. Sarah
    Sarah May 6, 2010 at 4:07 am |

    In reply to Holy- Is it not anti-feminist to define how feminist somebody is by their husband? Plus, we are responding to only Jay-Z’s image, perpetuated by a record company. We have no idea what either Beyonce or Jay Z’s views on women are in real life.

    And in response to Enya- I would say that the clothes she is wearing are in fact a clever counter point to the chores she’s performing. Notice the emphasis on the high heels? Hardly a practical choice. Yet in the 1950s this was the image perpetuated by advertising and the media at the time. The wife was expected to do all of the houseworks, whilst looking stunning- normally in high heels, as a further extension of pleasing her husband. The fact that she’s wearing a very modern twist on those sorts of clothes (more revealing, very now, yet very 1950s retro-esque) is showing how women are still placing their happiness upon finding a man, by pursuing these gender roles, and it is still making them miserable

    If male audiences don’t view it that way, then that is hardly Beyonce’s fault.

  41. Sarah
    Sarah May 6, 2010 at 4:08 am |

    sorry meant to @Holly and @Eneya there! My bad.

  42. Sarah
    Sarah May 6, 2010 at 4:10 am |

    and I still did it wrong. Sorry @Holy!

  43. S.L
    S.L May 6, 2010 at 4:12 am |

    I agree with Pretty Amiable. Im (finishing up:) studying busniess econ and finance. I consider myself a feminist, but I think I’m more conservative than most on here. Likewise, I’ve been in groups where I was the most progressive.

    I have a problem with judging whether or not a woman is feminist based on her husband/boyfriend/best friend/sister. Part of the problem is that alot of people are talking under the umbrella of feminism and no one really knows what exactly it is.

    The other part is that feminism doesn’t exist in a vacuum away from economics, politics, finance, etc. What if a guy is pro choice but doesn’t believe in federal funding for it because that money would be better spent on something else? Like education, or research or anything? what if a feminist said it…..

    Plus, like prettyamiable said, people can and do learn. I have talked to some (not all) about some feminist issues. One of the guys actually showed up during the Take Back the Night march and joined in.

    Some people have marriage partners with different religious beliefs, political views, etc. It won’t work for everyone but it does work for some. Nobody is the sum of their beliefs/idenities/idealogies.

    sorry if is this is unclear I need sleep <) Finals week

  44. Natalia
    Natalia May 6, 2010 at 7:39 am |

    Well, at this point in my life, I date dudes who present themselves as virulently anti-feminist all the time. Why? Because the ones I tend to pick are smart and assured, but also rarely have a basic understanding of what feminism means (or, to put it more specifically, what it means to a woman like me). I don’t mind arguing with them, and they sure as hell don’t mind arguing with me. I think we tend to affect each other positively.

    Marriage is a whole other kettle of fish, but even so, other people’s marriages tend to be very private. I can’t assume what the deal is with Beyonce and Jay-Z (I listen to plenty of Jay-Z’s music – I relate to it on a very different level, and would argue that some of it is progressive, and some of it, well, “not so much” is charitable, I guess) is, or what is and isn’t appropriate there, or what Beyonce needs to do when it comes to her husband, or what she doesn’t need to do. So much of celebrity is a deliberate act, after all. It’s theater – and I judge it as theater. People’s personal lives are something that I steer away from, unless I am invited to do otherwise, you know?

    That’s why the sentiment of “Beyonce shouldn’t have married him” makes me uncomfortable. It assumes a lot, I think. And switches one kind of paternalism for another. “What’s a nice girl like that doing with a bastard like him,” and so on. Perhaps she can handle him.

  45. Samantha B.
    Samantha B. May 6, 2010 at 8:43 am |

    Holy!, it’s too upsetting for me to even get into, but your knowledge of how domestic violence works is pretty distressingly inadequate. There are plenty of well heeled women who, for a variety of reasons you should read up on before coming to conclusions about how it works, stay with abusive husbands. Just to point to the most obvious factor, there’s the ever present specter of death, which, pick up a newspaper, is dime a dozen ubiquitous when a female partner attempts to leave an abusive spouse.
    Making quick, blanket judgments about people’s personal lives, if life has taught me anything, is a damn tricky thing to do. I’m also a little worried about the notion that keeps coming up in this thread that feminism is some kind of clubhouse, and you’re either in or out. Why can’t Beyonce be imperfect and yet we still pick up on the positive messages she continues to put out there? Aren’t we here to empower women rather than chide them for their inadequacies?

    And, Eneya, I take the “it” in the song “All the Single Ladies,” which I read as both problematic and positive, to be a finger. Although I’m sure there are ways to make a full body ring entertaining, I don’t think that’s what’s being described there.

  46. ACG
    ACG May 6, 2010 at 10:10 am |

    My Nigel doesn’t present as a feminist – he actually tries to avoid presenting as an anything-ist, just on principle. And we’ve had a few particularly impassioned debates on subjects on which we’ve disagreed. But he has this incredibly developed sense of fairness that puts him in line with my own feminist leanings more often than not. So when I start ranting about something, he’ll usually tease me (because that’s his way), but he’ll also usually agree with me and discuss with me, because so much of the feminist movement is about (if I may oversimplify) unfairness. Anyone who didn’t know him could easily miss that and wonder why a hairy-legged, man-hating, ball-busting feminist like myself would date a guy like him. I don’t know Jay-Z, of course, but I’m not going to discount the fact that maybe his own personal wife knows things about him that the public doesn’t.

  47. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 6, 2010 at 10:38 am |

    Just as a comment about the HRC staying with Bill thing – I’m not entirely sure that most of that isn’t a political transaction. For all of his transgressions, most people still love him, and her career is still going in the political realm.

    I have trouble judging any of HRC’s actions because she gets so shit on regardless of what she does. Act like a serious politician? Well, clearly she’s a bitch. Send friendly texts during the 08 primaries? She’s not being serious enough. Stay with Bill? She’s a pushover. Leave Bill? Back to being a bitch. She has to moderate all of it to some extent because part of her job as a politician in several of its iterations is a popularity contest.

    And that’s just the public stuff. God only knows what happens behind closed doors.

  48. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable May 6, 2010 at 10:39 am |

    (Sorry, the point was that there are other reasons for marriage sometimes besides parity of beliefs about equality – and that this could easily factor into Beyonce’s marriage – which is why I don’t think we have real need to judge her for her associations when she’s a public figure – we just don’t know what’s going on).

  49. Lauren
    Lauren May 6, 2010 at 11:46 am |

    I personally loved this video and didn’t think it was anti-feminist. I think that Beyonce was showing the social commentary of the 1950s and how the female had to be submissive to the male. In the video she is showing how she tried for the man to love her by doing all the typical chores that 50s housewives were “supposed” to do. I think that she is showing the irony of the 1950s how women catered to their husbands and the husbands didn’t give a damn – they just expected dinner on the table when they got home from their man job. No matter how much she does for the man it leaves her miserable and feeling unloved.

  50. Shelby
    Shelby May 6, 2010 at 3:40 pm |

    @JoanKelly: Hm, that’s a good point. I guess my comment does come off as telling Eneya not to use a feminist lens to critique the video. The feeling I wanted to get across was that, to me, Beyonce’s work is important to my community for reasons OTHER THAN whether or not she makes media that can be defined as Purely Feminist (as opposed to semi-feminist as Eneya said). I guess the feeling I got from Eneya’s comments were that whether or not the video can be called important or liberating depends solely upon if we can give it a Feminist stamp of approval. Which, to me, feels icky and like we’re trying to confine Beyonce to an ideology she might wholeheartedly reject for all we know. Which doesn’t mean you can’t use feminist critique– just that I wish we could acknowledge Beyonce doesn’t have to own that label to be of immense value to women.

  51. Eneya
    Eneya May 6, 2010 at 6:15 pm |

    Shelby, I am sorry you received this kind of impression from my words. Entirely unintended and I would keep it in mind for next discussions. My issue with Beyonce is beyond her being a hero for someone but about how she presents her work and women trough her work and I had some issues because of the reasons I stated.
    I love music and I enjoy it but I feel so tired by the way performing femininity is constantly shoved in my throat in a way that is offensive or just cruel and is called liberating or refreshing. Even if I didn’t identify as a feminist I would have had issues with pop culture and the way it treats and presents women.

    Maybe Beyonce is different than Christina (have you seen her last clip, pure fetish fest, which I don’t mind), but I can’t see the reason for it and how it differs from Rihanna’s or Britney’s fetish fests in their clips. If this is a personal choice, why it’s repeating again and again in the music in very different women (at least in theory)? I just don’t believe that’s their choice how to present themselves.

  52. Shelby
    Shelby May 6, 2010 at 7:44 pm |

    @Eneya:
    Thanks, I appreciate that.
    And I mostly agree with you about Beyonce. I think some of her work reinforces a lot negative gender roles for Black women especially. I just get a little defensive when discussing her in mainstream spaces like this blog.
    This video in particular though? I think it’s awesome– the message and the aesthetic. I think it’s important to keep in mind that Black women are historically de-feminized and painted as “ugly” in US culture. So the “pretty girl” aspect of this video has a slightly different significance when put in that context.
    Seeing a Black woman in a 50s/60s setting where she is not only coded as beautiful, but as powerful in a “I OWN this shit!” kinda way is probably part of the reason this video appeals to me. It definitely plays to intra-POC classism.. but my gut reaction to this video– to watching Beyonce be “beautiful” instead of animalistic/sex-crazed jezebel or de-sexed, submissive mammy– is pride and solidarity.

  53. Eneya
    Eneya May 7, 2010 at 8:34 am |

    Yes, nowadays all women in popculture are portrayed as animalistic/sex-crazed jezebels, yeah, beautiful sex-crazed jezbels but still.

    Anyway, I understand what you mean, so peace. :)

  54. Shelby
    Shelby May 7, 2010 at 11:11 am |

    Eneya said: “Yes, nowadays all women in popculture are portrayed as animalistic/sex-crazed jezebels, yeah, beautiful sex-crazed jezbels but still.”

    I don’t think you understand at all, actually. What do you mean “nowadays?” These stereotypes are alive and well and DO NOT affect “all women” the same. These are anti-Black woman, racist tropes and you cannot divorce them from ANY critique ESPECIALLY a feminist one.

  55. Eneya
    Eneya May 7, 2010 at 5:56 pm |

    Shelby, I agree that the way black women were (and still are) portrayed is horrible and dehumanizing.
    But the way women are portrayed as such in pop culture is wrong as a whole.

  56. Eneya
    Eneya May 7, 2010 at 8:20 pm |

    OK, while I was making an unbelievable bad job in explaining why I find the way women are represented in pop music, Sady and Amanda wrote a much better one.
    So… yes, look at it. http://tigerbeatdown.com/2010/05/07/sexist-beatdown-la-cage-aux-miley-edition/#more-1246

  57. Julie
    Julie May 8, 2010 at 8:09 pm |

    My husband is not a feminist and I very strongly identify as a feminist. I didn’t when we got married and once I became a feminist, I didn’t feel like his not being a feminist was enough to divorce him. He’s a great parent, we support each other in our careers and while our relationship is not as strong as I would like because we view some things very differently, I have decided that these things are good enough. Does this make me a hypocrite and not worth being called a feminist? Should we being holding Beyonce to a standard not many of us can meet perfectly?

  58. Holy!
    Holy! May 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm |

    Does your husband call women bitches, sluts, and hos? Does he brag about being a pimp? Does he make his living hawking such nonsense to millions of young people?

    Allot of people compromise their beliefs in non-feminist partners because, if they didn’t, they’d likely not find a heterosexual male mate. However, it doesn’t mean they embrace a misogynist hustler.

  59. Samantha B.
    Samantha B. May 9, 2010 at 9:24 am |

    So you’re saying, Holy!, is that if a woman doesn’t have the self esteem to have a sufficiently feminist husband that she’s not allowed to have any at all, by the Official Rules of Feminism?

  60. ACG
    ACG May 9, 2010 at 10:11 am |

    Is this another thing I have to keep track of? I know that my choice to wear mascara and high heels is already causing Unspeakable and Irreparable Harm to the Feminist Cause; if my choice of boyfriends will now be a source of Heavy Feminist Scrutiny and Censure, I might as well just mail my card back to the council.

    Or maybe there’s a sliding scale? Lesbians will, of course, be all the way to the left, because they serve the movement with greatest honor by not dating men at all. Then it will run to the right through feminist and non-feminist boyfriends to boyfriends judged to be wholly anti-feminist and unacceptable by, I’m guessing, Holy!.

  61. Sarah
    Sarah May 9, 2010 at 5:00 pm |

    as I said earlier @Holy!, I think it’s actually the opposite of feminism to assume a woman’s feminist credentials by looking to their husband.

    Why must we insist on continuing to define ourselves by men?

  62. Holy!
    Holy! May 17, 2010 at 9:36 pm |

    Who’s defining you? We are judged by the company we keep, and often rightfully so.

  63. Mya
    Mya May 30, 2010 at 4:32 am |

    yall know her sister Solange wrote the song, I think Solange was just expressing her feelings, Beyonce just made a video for it!!!

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