Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Beyonce: Lemonade

     I had always thought that Beyoncé was a queen, and after yesterday's discussion, I believe it 10 times more. Having listened to almost everyone of her songs since Destiny's Child, I was extremely excited to watch Lemonade and then listen to Dr. Nardone speak. She posed the question whether Beyoncé was truly a feminist, and I automatically thought "of course! There is no way that she couldn't be." After listening and learning about Chimamanda Adichie, belle hooks, and Audre Lorde, I could see where they would misinterpret Beyoncé's message. They talked about how Beyoncé stays within the conventional stereotypical world of women and does not change anything. I was shocked to hear that belle hooks called her a terrorist and anti-feminist, something I do not agree with. I can see where they are coming from when they say that Beyoncé works within the system and still makes women the objects of her videos with their sex appeal; however, I believe they missed the point. In showing black women dancing and dressed provocatively, Beyoncé is making a statement. This can be seen in "6 Inch" where she alludes to a stripper and glorifies her actions rather than condemn them. As we talked about in the discussion, it is like talking back the word "pussy" or the N word.
      Beyoncé is a feminist. Time and time again it is shown through the video how Beyoncé breaks down stereotypes and brings to light her messages. Dr. Nardone talk about "The Gaze" and how for many years women were considered objects in front of the camera. Beyoncé, however, breaks the fourth wall and stares directly into the camera; she acknowledges the camera, along with other females in the film. In "Hold Up," she stares into the camera and then takes a bat and smashes the surveillance camera and the camera recording her. I believe this is can be interpreted as her condemning "The Gaze" and stating that she will no longer be an object, but rather a person with a message. She acknowledges that feminism does not speak for everyone nor does it mean the same for everyone. She appeals to all sorts by including Zora Neale Hurston, Pipilotti Rist, and Daughters of the Dust. Not only that, but she adheres to all generations by including females of all ages and across all cultures. More importantly, she breaks down female stereotypes. While she changes the location of her video several times, she focuses on places that are considered "dangerous" for women like the streets, the bus, and the garage. In these places, she places herself along with women in rows and columns, as seen in "Sorry," to signify empowerment and a coming together. In "6 Inch," she drives around the streets cruising and staring at men, which is her flipping the piggish tradition of men cruising and gawking at  women.
     Aside from her amazing video, the lyrics of her songs speak volumes as well. In "Don't Hurt Yourself," she constantly questions "Who the f* do you think I am?" She is demanding to be respected and to be acknowledged as more than. In "Sorry," Beyoncé is not actually sorry; women have grown up to apologize for every little thing, and here, Beyoncé gives it a big middle finger up. She is done apologizing as she yells "Boy, bye!" In "Formation," Beyoncé switches the gender roles when she says "If he f* me good, I'll take his ass to Red Lobster." She is describing all she will do if the man behaves well, which is usually reversed. She takes control and has the power to take men on "her chopper" and let them buy "J's". She has the power to "put their song on the radio station." These are all actions that men have controlled.
     Some people may not agree with Lemonade, but this sure is not Beyoncé's first time speaking out against men and invoking feministic views. Her song "Run the World," clearly states that women have the power, and thus "Who runs the world? Girls!" She is calling to all, even men, that women are needed and important and valued. Her song "If I were a boy," discusses the double standards that occur for women. Men can be with multiple women, use them and ignore them later on, and are allowed to have a good time. Beyoncé is signifying that if she were a boy, then she could do all of these things, but she cannot. In "Flawless," she is  saying to forget the haters; love yourself; you're flawless. She actually incorporates Chimamanda Adichie's speech in which she verbatim uses "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."
     To be completely honest, Beyoncé should have won album of the year. She did something that I have not known anyone else capable of doing. She confronted issues head on, and like she said in "Formation," "you know you're that b* when you start all that conversation."

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