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Opinion: Is Beyonce redefining or undermining (Black) womanhood

Beyonce "Girls Love Beyonce" cover
Beyonce "Girls Love Beyonce" coverBeyonce "Girls Love Beyonce" cover

Undoubtedly, Beyonce is at the top of the music game. Winning 17 Grammy© awards and selling over 118 million records as a solo artist. She is one-half of a billionaire power couple married to Shawn "Jay Z" Carter. She's starred in films, released her own fragrances and double dates with the President and First Lady.

A self proclaimed "modern-day feminist, Beyonce's songs are often defined as characterizations of love, relationships, and monogamy, as well as female sexuality and empowerment.

While it's hard to argue that Mrs. Carter has not had a profound impact, there is the question about the images she portrays of Black women.

'Bey' A Redefining Moment

In "Flawless"she samples feminist Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie’s questioning the messages we send to our girls:

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you will threaten the man.’ Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now, marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support. But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors—not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing. But for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”

But Beyoncé confuses and contradicts the best possibilities in her music. Her picture of womanhood needs serious repair, says Thabiti Anyabwile.

The Contradiction

Does Beyonce reinforce beauty stereotypes while demolishing feminine virtue? Fair question when considering the direction the famous A-Lister and mother of one has taken. She dresses provocatively in almost every video and her live performances are always very sexual in nature.

“We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.” Beyoncé shows us exactly what it looks like if Adichie’s comment is taken to mean girls should be sexual beings in all the aggressive and physical ways boys are sometimes permitted. It’s not pretty. If most men are commonly regarded as “dogs,” then the women who emulate them can only be female dogs. Is there any wonder that in hip-hop and pop culture women often use the b-word to refer to themselves and other women? That’s what happens when women wish to match men in sexual depravity. Someone should stop and ask, “Why should a woman want to be equal with male perversion?” Aren’t there some higher heights for our daughters and sisters to achieve?" asked Anyabwile in an article.

On yesterday, the Huffington Post published an article where Bill O'Reilly of Fox News went on a tirade about one of Beyonce's sexually charged video's while he was interviewing Russell Simmons who was there to promote his book. O'Reilly and Simmons seemingly clash and have a different opinion about the performer. Simmons finally declared "she is a brilliant artist".

Whatever the opinion of Mrs. Carter, one must admit that she has definitely changed the music world forever. Her brand of entertainment is uncompromising and undeniably one of a kind. Whether she is a role model for young girls or even grown women, she is incredibly Beyonce.