Beyonce is a pop icon that leaves many of us feminists scratching our heads. Does Bey offer a true message of female empowerment or is she hurting the movement declaring she wants her man to pay her “bills, bills, bills” and shrieking “Why don’t you love me?” while looking like a pin up girl? There’s plenty of evidence to support both sides, but most folks know I tend to defend Bey’s music. Making me proud, in a recent interview with the U.K.’s You magazine, the star went as far as to actually use the f-word:
“I think I am a feminist in a way. It’s not something I consciously decided I was going to be; perhaps it’s because I grew up in a singing group with other women, and that was so helpful to me. It kept me out of so much trouble and out of bad relationships. My friendships with my girls are just so much a part of me that there are things I am never going to do that would upset that bond. I never want to betray that friendship because I love being a woman and I love being a friend to other women.“
She went on to say, “I think we learn a lot from our female friends – female friendship is very, very important. It’s good to support each other and I do try to put that message in my music.”
Whether you’re a fan of Beyonce’s girl power anthems or not, you must admit that she’s reminding us of the importance of simply having your sister’s back and, if you all will allow me to rant a bit, I must say that these days I see a huge lack of that. Take for example the Rihanna-Chris Brown tragedy. And I don’t use that word lightly. What happened to Rihanna was tragic, yet I keep hearing people… wait, let me be more specific… I keep hearing women say that Rihanna must have done something to deserve the abuse and is therefore not truly the victim.
But after Brown made a mess of “Man in the Mirror” on the BET Awards sobbing and slobbering all over the track suddenly he became the victim. Music and pop culture critics not willing to let him off the hook were called heartless. However, the same friends who demanded that we forgive and forget the sins of Chris Brown were calling for a boycott of Alicia Keys’ music after learning she was pregnant by super-producer Swizz Beatz and hearing rumors that she was the cause of Swizz’s divorce. “Home wrecker!” many of my female friends declared, but not one called out Swizz for letting someone come between he and his wife. Why? Because at the end of the day, whether it’s divorce or domestic violence, it’s the woman’s fault. Always.
Even those of us who constantly the wave female empowerment banner sometimes get so busy wagging our finger declaring another woman a bad feminist that we forget to support one another.
I don’t mean to exclude men from this. If we will ever live in a world without rape and violence against women, a world in which women are truly valued as human beings, men have to be involved in making those changes happen. But ladies, we must begin to value one another too. We must cultivate those friendships Beyonce is speaking about in that interview. I’m not asking you to blast I Am… Sasha Fierce this week or declare your home girl Bootylicious. I’m simply asking that we begin to deal with one another with more compassion because maybe the rest of the world will take that as a cue that’s it’s time it treats us better too.