In light of insipid anti-feminist bullshit like this here Fox News article, I will be starting a sporadic series of posts in which I celebrate the women I love and who have inspired me. Mostly, this is my excuse to talk about Beyonce as often as possible. Any other suggestions for inspiring women to be featured in the series are encouraged and welcomed!
First up: Queen B herself. Just try to watch this video and not become a feminist. You can’t do it because it’s impossible. Why do I love her? Well, did you watch that “Run the World Girls” video? She’s a beautiful, sexy, strong, successful woman. And she’s not a hot mess like so many other successful women today are (see Kim Kardashian). Beyonce is crazy famous, but her life isn’t an open book. Her work and general demeanor actually do make her a role model for young women and girls, a cliche but an important one.
So this whole Beyonce “Run the World Girls” phenomenon takes us to a sticky, slippery place in women’s history (vagina pun intended): the move from third wave feminism to “post-feminism.” Maybe not shockingly, I’m going to fall into the camp of people who view post-feminism as a reaction to and therefore an extension of feminism. Like post-modernism or post-process theories, post feminism takes the values and methods of its predecessors for granted but those values and methods are still present, though altered in meaningful ways for new and changing cultural contexts. Feminism (with its values in equal rights and opportunities for women) is still going strong, even if it is “post.” Maybe I should revise that last sentence to: Feminisms (with their values in equal rights and opportunities for women) are still going strong, even if they are “post”?
Beyonce and post-feminism personal story: In a seminar in post-modern literature I took during my Master’s program, my professor basically tried to argue that even after decades of feminist, post-colonial, multicultural theories, critical pedagogy and lots of other not-just-white-male academic pursuits, women, minorities, and other marginalized groups had made little to no socio-political-cultural progress. His argument was basically that those fields had been for the most part insular. Their effects had reached no one but those people already working within those fields. His evidence for the insular non-effects of these fields of study and action was that for the most part white men are still the rulers and major decision makers of the world. And he asked the question: “But really, who runs the world?” and I said: GIRLS!
This moment matters to me. It matters to me that I felt I could contradict my white male professor and use pop culture to do so. The opportunity and willingness to resist and challenge a person of traditionally bestowed authority that happened for me in that moment shows me that progress and change for marginalized groups and people has happened and is happening. It matters to me that being a ruler or being a major decision maker or being a person granted traditional forms of socio-political-cultural power is not the only way to make change or challenge the unjust status quo. Change does not have to occur top-down. Thank God. (Get it?). So this is why I love Beyonce. Because she encourages girls to “run the world” and (if you watch that video) running the world doesn’t have to look like the way men have been doing it (or have been thinking they’ve been doing it) for centuries.
But seriously, watch that video. PS: I love Beyonce so much that I even forgive her for stealing my baby name.