Why Do We Insist That Beyoncé Proves It

Male rappers don’t have to prove they have guns and money and hoes in the hot tubs. Sometimes music is more about “that life” (fantasy) than real life. Does Macklemore pop tags? Does Dr. Dre still have guns in his house? Is Carrie Underwood really smashing her boyfriends windows in and keying his truck? I hope not. Is everyone else smoking up the clubs? *shrug* I don’t know. Yet we insist on taking Beyoncé to task on every lick she sings. Prove it, we say. Justify it, we demand. While at the same time we accept that other songs are just fantasy stories.

The recent controversy is over her and Jay-Z’s collaboration of “Drunk in Love” Where they reference both Mike Tyson, a known convicted rapist biting Holyfield’s ear, and then a disturbing scene from the Oscar-nominated Tina Turner biopic, “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” in which an argument between Tina (played by Angela Bassett) and her abusive husband Ike (Lawrence Fishburne) turns physical and he smashes the cake in her face. Also while we’re picking this apart, we can’t omit the fact that “eat the cake” is not a new phrase, and commonly is also used to refer to cunnilingus. Lyrics below:

“Catch a charge I might, beat the box up like Mike
In ’97 I bite, I’m Ike, Turner, turn up
Baby no I don’t play, now eat the cake, Anna Mae
Said, “Eat the cake, Anna Mae!”

Look, domestic violence isn’t nothing. It’s terrible. Is Beyoncé in a domestic violence situation with Jay-Z? No- None of us think that. Is this a pleasant fantasy that we want the impressionable to glorify? No. But fantasy entertainment isn’t always pleasant. And entertainers depicting a particular situation doesn’t always mean that they endorse it or are doing it.

It got you talking didn’t it?

Mostly it’s because everyone is waiting at the chance to take away Beyoncé’s feminist card. I keep hearing that Beyoncé must not be a real feminist if she does XYZ. Whether it’s because she’s not wearing the right thing or putting up with her husband singing the wrong lyrics, pundits are just waiting to say, see, she’s not really a feminist, here’s proof.

That infers a couple of things.
One: that feminism isn’t fluid.
Not true.
There is no fixed point in feminism. Your feminism doesn’t define my feminism, nor can you define Beyoncé’s. You couldn’t take away her card if you tried.
Number two: let’s say that say that Beyoncé was a victim of domestic violence like the song depicts. Someone saying she can’t be a feminist for putting up with that sounds a lot like blaming a victim and taking away their identity because of what happens to them. How does that make sense?

The other side of this, is that this song is supposedly sung about two married people going home and “going all night.” You just all devoured Fifty Shades of Trash, yet we must dictate what healthy role-play is in Beyoncé’s life? If she wants to play at being a “gangster’s wife” as she sings in the second verse, then let her.

Stop trying to knock Beyoncé off her pedestal. We saw on Sunday that she looks pretty dam good sitting up there. Also stop trying to define other people’s lives for them, especially if your argument comes from miles away based on what you think their fantasy art is about. I don’t love the lyric, but I appreciate the talent in their ability to create strong imagery in a fantasy-art type of way.

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2 responses to “Why Do We Insist That Beyoncé Proves It

  1. I was really underwhelmed and disappointed at that performance, after hearing so much praise about her new album; this looked like a tacky, trashy Rihanna performance. My problem with Beyonce is she is so much better than that; is this kind of garbage just what sells these days? You could definitely make an argument for that, but I feel like she’s in the best position to raise the bar for lady pop stars. She has the talent and the base to be more creative than opening the Grammys with a televised gyno exam. I’m sure she has better songs on the album (jeez I hope so), I’d think she has the cred to do way better. (Also, I didn’t even think of an abuse reference on that Mike line, just boxing with the double entendre of box – but you’re right, that’s a lot of yikes there) – It’s not even entirely the content of the song; the execution was just SO lacking, coming from this ‘queen Bey.’ SWV’s “Blak Pudd’n” was way better.

    • Your response makes a lot of good points, but I just don’t think “stars” should be responsible for “raising the bar” or making social statements with their songs. How should the weight of influencing or shaping or role modeling all of womankind be on her?

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