Newsflash: Beyoncé is a Person Just Like You
Written By Maddy Crehan
Last month at the VMA’s Beyoncé performed Lemonade and reminded us all why she earned the label ‘Queen’. While her performance alone would be enough to talk about for the rest of time, Bey also left us with an important message to think about. During her song Don’t Hurt Yourself the words “GOD IS GOD I AM NOT” flashed across the screen. Unlike Kanye who has deliberately created this ‘Yeezus’ persona and actually has a song title I Am a God (very subtle), Beyoncé reminds us that she is a flawed human being, just like everybody else.
(No you’re not Kanye.)
Beyoncé’s loyal fans, including Kanye himself, worship her like a goddess. But to compare her to something so out of this world is to deny her real-lived experiences; which is what her album Lemonade is all about. To call her a god is to deny how hard she has worked to reach this point in her career. She deserves credit and recognition for each of her successes, not blind devotion.
So often celebrities are put on pedestals and expected to remain completely flawless. And society will be right there to name and shame them when they make a mistake. Strangely, (though few of us are in the public spotlight), feminists face a similar dilemma. As a well-known and recognised movement, feminism receives much scrutiny. And if you’re a celebrity AND a feminist you better expect some challenging comments (i.e: Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer).
Even within the feminist community there is constant criticism, as we have high expectations of each other. It’s as if there is an invisible rule book we should all be reading from and then held accountable if we say the wrong thing. The problem with this is that the world of feminism is continuously changing as every individual person interprets it differently. There is no singular form of feminism, so we need to allow space for everyone’s own experience of it.
Challenging insensitive or incorrect remarks is necessary. However it is only productive if it is a learning experience for all involved. Acknowledging where someone is coming from and how their own experience has shaped their opinion allows for greater understanding and appreciation for diverse views. And allowing yourself or someone else to learn and grow from mistakes is vital to the development of feminism. A mistake by a feminist is not a mistake of feminism and should not be treated as such. The feminist movement has been evolving for centuries. And the only reason it’s gotten to where it is today is because feminists who recognised how the movement was problematic took the time to rise up and demand that it do better.
Feminism aims to be an all-inclusive movement. So it is important to acknowledge when it is not so – ie: White Feminism. Calling out White Feminism is not an attack on certain feminists; but rather an opportunity to expand the conversation. Giving a voice to marginalised groups allows a greater understanding for all women’s experiences. Lena Dunham has been called out for her flawed feminism, many times, and has also apologised, many times. While the media may not be so forgiving, we as united women must call out mistakes when we see them, whilst also nurturing the ability to grow.
We embrace those whom we share experiences and opinions with because it validates our own. But we must remember to appreciate and learn from those who are different from us, even if we disagree with their opinions or values.
People discover feminism is many different ways and at different stages of their lives. No one should be expected to have an unlimited understanding of the movement’s history or language right from the get-go. We are constantly learning from each other. That’s why mistakes are so important in this development; they allow room for discussion and debate and lead to greater understanding. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Everyone does. We’re all human. Even Beyoncé.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Roxane Gay’s brilliant book Bad Feminist:
“I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying — trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.”
Now let’s all go and be bad feminists!
Maddy regularly writes for Rosie, and is passionate about music, history, art and gender equality.
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