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Some of the men think they freak this like we do, but no they don't.
May 23, 2011 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Hey Beyonce, Guess What? You're a Liar. (SLYT) Angry young video blogger (vlogger?) Nineteen Percent calls out Beyonce's Run the World (Girls) for shallow girl-power lyrics. (via Feministing.)
posted by emjaybee (163 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Girl Ze Frank is right!
posted by fungible at 8:14 PM on May 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Wow and I thought that song was terrible because it straight lifts Pon De Floor's backing music but now there's two reasons!
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 8:18 PM on May 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


I watched the Nintenee Percent video, then read the lyrics to the Beyonce song to see if the 'vlogger' had maybe somehow misinterpreted the song. The only conclusion I cam to after reading the lyrics to Run The World is that if Beyonce should be criticised for anything, its for writing shitty music.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:21 PM on May 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


jesus, what can you even say that she didn't say? check and mate.
posted by facetious at 8:21 PM on May 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Really, all you needed to do was watch the video to see that this isn't the girl power anthem it purports to be. (Hello, dancing in corsets and stockings for a bunch of clothed men.)
posted by smirkette at 8:21 PM on May 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


I made it through about 13 seconds of that Beyonce video. Not good, Danny.
posted by stargell at 8:26 PM on May 23, 2011


Ha! I like the Avast blooper at the end.
posted by ian1977 at 8:26 PM on May 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


There's an interesting critique of this video in the Guardian too.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:26 PM on May 23, 2011


Just reading through the lyrics Effigy2000 posted; what does she mean by 'motha'?
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:28 PM on May 23, 2011


Well, my 11-year-old girl runs my world...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:32 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


> The only conclusion I cam to after reading the lyrics to Run The World is that if Beyonce should be criticised for anything, its for writing shitty music.

Beyonce doesn't write shitty music. She pays other people to write shitty music.
posted by erstwhile at 8:34 PM on May 23, 2011 [17 favorites]


Musically, this seems like it is one of Crazy Frog's stronger songs. And I'm glad they replaced that ugly frog in those videos with the dancing pretty people.
posted by milkrate at 8:37 PM on May 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


Don't worry about Pon de Floor, I know they got paid, huge. The work on top of it is kinda lazy, admittedly.

On the other hand, her Move Your Body video made my jaw drop. Beyond the politics, she can sing and dance pop like no one else. Plus it's tied to Michelle Obama's fitness for youth program, which is practically daring Tea Party types to not like it.
posted by fungible at 8:40 PM on May 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


There are five songwriters credited for "Run the World (Girls)" (aside from Beyonce herself, who is famous for demanding credit on songs she didn't actually write).

Everyone one of them is male.
posted by lewedswiver at 8:40 PM on May 23, 2011 [36 favorites]


All the women who are independent LEAVE BEYONCÉ ALONE
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:41 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Shout out to Tblisi, Georgia in the video.
posted by k8t at 8:44 PM on May 23, 2011


Point taken, erstwhile.

I guess the only thing I have left to say, if anyone is seriously looking to the Beyonces of this world to voice the social and intellectual challenges to our society in the 21st century, and then gets angry when instead you get 'music' such as Run the World, perhaps you need to go down to the library to find what it is you're really looking for (and encourage others to do similarly!).
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:44 PM on May 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


"My persuasion can build a nation." Cue the writhing.

I can't speak for anyone other than myself, but isn't "Women are powerful because they're super sexy, and men will do anything for them!" generally recognized as a just another way of framing the fact that women have often been powerless save their negotiating value as sexual commodities?

I mean, three cheers for producing another pop song, but... the idea of turning that into girl power seems really depressing.
posted by verb at 8:46 PM on May 23, 2011 [26 favorites]


If she *really* wanted to make a point, she should've had the video full of footage of real women who have made a tangible difference to the international community: Benazir Bhutto, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher (hey, I didn't like her politics, but she was a powerful political figure), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Aung San Suu Kyi, etc.
posted by smirkette at 8:51 PM on May 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


In other news Rick Astley did, in fact, give you up.
posted by pompomtom at 8:53 PM on May 23, 2011 [24 favorites]


It's easy to be snarky about the "I'm such an strong independent woman hear me roar, yet I'm going to dress and act like a whore so the boys still like me" types, but the more I think about it the more I feel sorry for them. Actually, fuck feeling sorry for them. It makes me glad about my decision to never breed. I do, however, feel sorry for anyone raising a girl right now. Good friggin' luck.
posted by MattMangels at 9:02 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


This chick has issues.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:04 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


this video reminds me that I need to check Avast to see if there is any way to turn down the volume of those damn notices!
posted by bonefish at 9:04 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Looked like a cronenber film.
posted by Meatafoecure at 9:09 PM on May 23, 2011


Did he also let us down, pompomtom?
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:10 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, where was youtube when Starship "lied" to a my generation about "us" supposedly building this city. Angry then, angry now.
posted by the noob at 9:15 PM on May 23, 2011 [38 favorites]


Idk, but he definitely ran around and deserted me.
posted by nile_red at 9:17 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are five songwriters credited for "Run the World (Girls)" (aside from Beyonce herself, who is famous for demanding credit on songs she didn't actually write).

Everyone one of them is male.


Did every one of them pitch in a word? :/
posted by june made him a gemini at 9:24 PM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't even like this song but I have to defend it (a bit). First of all, on the quality of music, Beyonce songs usually serve 1 or 2 of 3 purposes: 1. to showcase her vocal chops, to 2. showcase her dancing and performance-ability, 3. and to make popular videos. Single Ladies (another song I didn't like but came to appreciate) was a 2 and a 3, while this song is probably just a 2, but imo a strong 2. That would be dancing and performance-ability.

First of all, she is using the song to showcase yet another tribute to dance, this time the kwaito dancing of Tofo Tofo. For me, that's the only positive I get out of the video, because I could watch that dancing all day and I really want to learn it. Usually I stay away from African dance because of its religious underpinnings, while kwaito is much more contemporary and meaningful to me. I think she deserves credit for her open-mindedness and I like that she put the male Tofo Tofo guys in the video even though it's supposed to be girls running the world. She put a lot of other homages and stuff in the video, but it's kind of a mess after the initial dancing. Also, the song sucks but is catchy.

However, Beyonce also really stresses the live performances of her songs, and that is where this track really shines. If you don't care about her as a live performer then that is an aspect you won't really see. The Billboard Awards performance is awesome and garnered a reaction that clearly surprised even her. The lyrics of the song barely make sense although I get the theme.

I should note that at the beginning of the Billboard performance she makes clear that girls "running the world" is something to strive toward as a revolution, not the situation as it is. I think she's aware of the reality of the world. She's a powerful woman but probably knows better than anyone that her industry is as male-dominated as any other.

Anyway, for the past 3 albums Beyonce has released a marginal dance track as the early single. Single Ladies progressed beyond the marginal due to the video and the phenomenon it spawned. This one won't really dampen the enthusiasm for her album, but it isn't good I get that. I still love Beyonce though.
posted by Danila at 9:35 PM on May 23, 2011 [26 favorites]


I really didn't expect much from an "angry young video blogger", but that was incredibly articulate and intelligent. I'm kind of proud.
posted by Phire at 9:36 PM on May 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


I guess the only thing I have left to say, if anyone is seriously looking to the Beyonces of this world to voice the social and intellectual challenges to our society in the 21st century, and then gets angry when instead you get 'music' such as Run the World, perhaps you need to go down to the library to find what it is you're really looking for (and encourage others to do similarly!).

I'm not sure this is close to what she's effecting here. Nineteen Percent states that she's aware it's just a song, but that it distracts from the real problems in the guise of championing girl power. Then she did exactly what you propose - she recommends reading Jessica Valenti's Full Frontal Feminism and going to the Feministing site to find out what you, the viewer, can do.

Like Phire, I'm pleasantly surprised at the articulation here.
posted by popsciolist at 9:44 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, seconding Phire. That was an angry video blog, but that was comprehensive and smart and made a lot of non-bullshitty points without ever being indulgent or full of itself. I want more of this, Internet.

at the risk of getting banned, I'd totally hit that

Did you really need to say that? Like there was no way you could quietly think that to yourself instead of putting it in a public place?
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:45 PM on May 23, 2011 [15 favorites]



If she *really* wanted to make a point, she should've had the video full of footage of real women who have made a tangible difference to the international community: Benazir Bhutto, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher (hey, I didn't like her politics, but she was a powerful political figure), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Aung San Suu Kyi, etc.


Yes, this would surely be an awesome pop video.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:46 PM on May 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


erudite, assertive, well-reasoned women with sublimely-reasoned points that also coincide with sociological commentary are my type

Then you probably don't want to click on her video about how men want tight vaginas.

I do like the editing job, though. It makes her points seem more valid when they are cut short. So you can't say "but that isn't tru...oh wait, we're on another issue now...hey this isn't right....oh new issue..."
posted by hal_c_on at 9:47 PM on May 23, 2011


This is great!
In an SAT sense:

This Beyonce Video : MIA's Entire Persona = Laugh-In : Hippies
posted by mcmile at 9:54 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


hal_c_on, are you going to just snark and call her a "chick" and suggest she's wrong about things, or are you going to put your balls where your mouth is?
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:54 PM on May 23, 2011


Hey, it's Vanessa from Gossip Girl!
posted by shivohum at 9:54 PM on May 23, 2011


hal_c_on: "Then you probably don't want to click on her video about how men want tight vaginas."

I did. It's about the double standards about sex and sexuality that permeate society. If you're going to criticize her, at least check out your sources.
posted by Phire at 9:54 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


emjaybee: Angry young video blogger (vlogger?) Nineteen Percent calls out Beyonce's Run the World (Girls) for shallow girl-power lyrics.

Oh my God, I am IN LOVE. That was articulate, passionate, accurate, and fucking right on.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:58 PM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


That was brilliant! I fully expected pointless nitpicking and twisting of details to make a point (because this is often what happens any time anything popular is picked apart), but I'm happily disappointed on that front.

And, for crying out loud, stop feeding hal_c_on.
posted by katillathehun at 10:03 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


If she *really* wanted to make a point, she should've had the video full of footage of real women who have made a tangible difference to the international community: Benazir Bhutto, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher (hey, I didn't like her politics, but she was a powerful political figure), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Aung San Suu Kyi, etc.

Yes, this would surely be an awesome pop video.


There’s actually a pretty good pop video with exactly this premise.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 10:05 PM on May 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


I did. It's about the double standards about sex and sexuality that permeate society. If you're going to criticize her, at least check out your sources.
posted by Phire at 9:54 PM on May 23 [1 favorite +] [!]


Did you listen to it, or just watch her with the volume down?
posted by hal_c_on at 10:12 PM on May 23, 2011


I listened to it. If you have a point to make, with substance to back it up, make it.
posted by Phire at 10:14 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but Beyoncé also got credit for "empowerment" with a song about how single women are so great that you should validate them with an engagement ring. That's right, the same song which says that she's not the type of girl who cares about "the things of this world." The same song that ambiguously uses the word "it" in a way that seems to mean the woman herself.

At that point you should've written off both Beyoncé's feminist credentials and the media's ability to identify the same.

Related: a beautiful skinny white woman in her underwear singing about how she was born that way. This is interpreted as an anthem about acceptance, when it could just as easily be bragging. Kidding, mostly. I know the lyrics of "Born This Way" are genuinely about acceptance, though they're a little too ham-fisted to deserve all the praise she's gotten. The video leaves a bad taste in my mouth though, because the majority of it is shots of sexy people being sexy. Could've used a few butch lesbians, some bears, some overweight people, etc. And for the record, I quite enjoy both "Single Ladies" and "Born This Way".
posted by Riki tiki at 10:17 PM on May 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Nineteen Percent states that she's aware it's just a song, but that it distracts from the real problems in the guise of championing girl power.

The overwhelming majority of her points were extremely well-made, but she doesn't do anything to convince me that someone writing/performing a dance song with dumb lyrics is going to have a negative impact on making the world a better place for women.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:21 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the argument is:

By decreasing the number of sexual partners you have.

The more likely a woman's vagina will stay tight.

And thereby, remain more desirable to a man. the man

because in this whole equation it seems that is the man this double standard was designed to please.

your husband..future husband, or hypothetical husband…


I'll buy this. If you can tell me that all vaginas get less loose as the women they belong to have more sex, rather than due to the natural aging process.


Also, I don't understand her point about "men are reluctant to provide resources to a child that is not theirs". Yeah...Agreed. But so are women.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:21 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


And, for crying out loud, stop feeding hal_c_on.

FEED ME, SEYMOUR!
posted by hal_c_on at 10:24 PM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


To those of you saying in one way or another "it's just dumb pop", that's precisely why it should be criticized. This idiotic "yeah! We run the world! 'Cause we're sexxxy!" message is getting out to millions of girls.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:27 PM on May 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


I transcribed it and left it as a comment at the source (awaiting moderation) in case anyone needs to read it instead of listening/watching or wants some copy-paste powers.

[if you are impatient for copypasta, it's posted in one of my tumblrs as well.]
posted by nile_red at 10:27 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The overwhelming majority of her points were extremely well-made, but she doesn't do anything to convince me that someone writing/performing a dance song with dumb lyrics is going to have a negative impact on making the world a better place for women.

It sounded to me like the song was being used more as a tool to drive home a point that needed making regardless of the song itself. That said, the song is definitely a symptom of a greater problem, and it's one among many similar pieces contributing (inadvertently or otherwise) to the whole male-dominated puzzle.
posted by katillathehun at 10:28 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


{I feel a little like the "men have it bad too" is the "why isn't there a white history month" of this conversation}
posted by nile_red at 10:31 PM on May 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Benazir Bhutto, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher (hey, I didn't like her politics, but she was a powerful political figure), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Aung San Suu Kyi, etc.

Dancing in corsets and pasties. For Gandhi and MLK.

"Bring the salt to me, ladies! Sit in! No, stand and march! That's it! And spin those spinning wheels! Come to the mountaintop with me! We shall overcome!"

Then Eleanor Roosevelt...

Yeah!

No.
posted by pracowity at 10:32 PM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


23skidoo: she doesn't do anything to convince me that someone writing/performing a dance song with dumb lyrics is going to have a negative impact on making the world a better place for women

Pop music > pop culture > culture. This shit heavily influences the culture women have to live in.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:36 PM on May 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm pretty sure her argument was that the "more partners = looser vaginas" trope is one of the myths designed to perpetuate the stigma of multiple sexual partners for women, but I may have misheard/misunderstood. She does, after all, discuss the natural loosening of muscles over time so I would be hard-pressed to believe that someone who seems otherwise well-versed in feminist literature would overlook this oft-debunked myth.

At any rate, MetaFilter isn't designed for a two-person debate. I'll bow out.
posted by Phire at 10:43 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The song is all kinds of sexist, but it's actually a step for Beyonce considering her previous songs: Cater to U, Upgrade U and Big Ego. She can do whatever songs she wants. I wish she stop picking crappy ones.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:58 PM on May 23, 2011


Does anyone else get tired of the assumption that if and when women have, say, half the positions on corporate executive teams and half the seats in congress and half the decision making power in every major industry, something will have been accomplished?

I mean, maybe it will have, but I look at a figure like Hillary Clinton or Condoleeza Rice or Indira Gandhi, etc, and I think, "Wow, great, empowered women... who seem to bring the same capacity for radical personal and political self-compromise to their positions of power as men."

And we're still supposed to respect Madonna, the material girl, for GETTIN HERS. Take THAT, men!

I'm sorry, but I just don't.

From my perspective, it seems like total gender equality will have accomplished nothing if women don't bring with them on their sweep to power a radical shift in ideology as well.

Cuz this me my mine f**k the world, I'm gettin mine, baby thing has been done to death - by men. It's the thing about patriarchy I like the least.

I don't like the way women are portrayed in the media. I think the statistics on rape and catcalling are appalling.

But until women offer something that transcends those issues, I wonder if those issues themselves will ever be solved. Does that make sense?

I will not celebrate the first female Dick Cheney, or the first female Rush Limbaugh, or the first female Herman Goering, or the first female Carly Fiorina. Oops, sorry, I mean...

Well, what I mean is, if there's one lesson Barack Obama has taught me, it's that while seeing people who are/have been marginalized and oppressed assume positions of power in our culture is inspiring, it ultimately doesn't mean much if those people keep following the same patterns and working from the same assumptions established by the white capitalist patriarchy.
posted by macross city flaneur at 11:01 PM on May 23, 2011 [18 favorites]


Whoa. That is one thorough ass-kicking.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:18 PM on May 23, 2011


Wha, macross? Equality isn't about who can do it better. It's about allowing all sides equal rights. Yes, that includes equal potential to be crappy people. I shouldn't have to make lower wages than men in the same position just because a woman on the job isn't inherently better.
posted by katillathehun at 11:23 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


macross,

Don't you kinda disable your argument when you are guilty of the same hating-on-women?

or the first female Carly Fiorina. Oops, sorry, I mean...

Women are really hard on each other. I mean damn.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:25 PM on May 23, 2011


Does anyone else get tired of the assumption that if and when women have, say, half the positions on corporate executive teams and half the seats in congress and half the decision making power in every major industry, something will have been accomplished?

Well, gender equality would have been accomplished, which is worth something in itself, no? I agree, I wouldn't celebrate the first Dick Cheney either, nor do I think equality on race/gender/orientation lines precludes other ugly behavior or systems. Over the past 30 years capitalism has only become more dominant, while the white patriarchy has receded: the takeway is that "white capitalist patriarchy" isn't a coherent concept: if capitalism needed white patriarchy in order to function, that ground would not have been ceded, or capitalism would have been weakened along with the rest.

Basically, gender-race-neutral capitalist hierarchy is an improvement over white capitalist patriarchy. I don't think it's enough of an improvement either, but it's an improvement.
posted by furiousthought at 11:27 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I wouldn't celebrate the first female Dick Cheney", I mean.
posted by furiousthought at 11:28 PM on May 23, 2011


I wonder what her response would be to Jarivs Cocker's Cunts are still running the world.
posted by benzenedream at 11:28 PM on May 23, 2011


man, mefi is great at developing sudden cults of personality about some link subjects. it's strange.
posted by the mad poster! at 11:28 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


That didn't come out that clearly. Let me try to sum up. What I really mean to say is, if women "succeed" by the standards and according to the frameworks and values of white capitalist patriarchy, if they take for themselves the right to hold power in all the same ways that men do, on these terms, won't it be kind of an empty victory?

Because the CRITERIA for what it means to be powerful won't have changed one iota. The PRACTICE of exercising power will still be defined by exploitation and rabid competition and hierarchy and aggression and selfishness. Will that be a victory for women?

I don't think so, but I always hear women (other than intellectuals like Judith Butler) talking about these "objective statistics" like that's the definitive goal and measure of equality. So once all the numbers line up, we'll be all good then? Is that the assumption?

Because I rarely hear women's empowerment talked about in terms of alternative values, except when those values directly involve women's oppression. An example of an exception would be Sonia Sotomayor famously referring to being a Latina supreme court justice, and of course the right jumped on that, saying that being a Latina should have NO IMPACT on how she rules as a judge. Because that's what threatens them. Not women in positions of power, but women who dare to think that exercising power AS WOMEN is a different thing than exercising it as a man.

But shouldn't she be allowed to articulate... in fact, shouldn't we be begging for her to articulate what that might mean. Shouldn't we WANT Sotomayor to expose the supposed "objectivity" of a patriarchal legal culture as the terribly flawed and biased institution that it is. And shouldn't we then look for female judges to articulate what it might mean to have a legal culture that has different values precisely because it is half female?

And so, when I look at Beyonce vs Nineteen Percent, I don't really see much of a difference between them. Because ultimately they both seem to define the success of the women's movement by the same criteria, which, with the exception of the issues of respect and harrassment and sexual oppression, mostly have to do with holding the same material, economic power in a totally f**d up system as men. A system created by men, to serve men, but mostly created by the rich and powerful, to serve the rich and powerful.
posted by macross city flaneur at 11:31 PM on May 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


Pop music > pop culture > culture. This shit heavily influences the culture women have to live in.

I'll be more direct. I don't think she's right when she says that girls who hear this song will be convinced that they actually run the world and will stop taking actions that will make the world a better place for women.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:33 PM on May 23, 2011


Pop music > pop culture > culture. This shit heavily influences the culture women have to live in.i

This, this, and this again. Pop songs are wicked stoopid, built for broad appeal and full of empty calories, which makes them a key conduit of unquestioned social attitudes. There's a lot to see about where a country's head is at by the nonsense it broadcasts as if everyone is on board.

posted by EatTheWeak at 11:36 PM on May 23, 2011


... and that's what happens when you don't close the image tag.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:37 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Wha, macross? Equality isn't about who can do it better. It's about allowing all sides equal rights. Yes, that includes equal potential to be crappy people. I shouldn't have to make lower wages than men in the same position just because a woman on the job isn't inherently better."

I agree that women should be compensated the same way men are, but katillathehun, doesn't it seem to you like the success of the women's movement is often defined by standards like this, rather than something more?

I means, isn't this a missed opportunity to redefine what success means? I know that can sound like an empty rhetorical trick in some people's mouths, but I'm being serious. Because frankly, I think the right wing would be happy to give women equal pay tomorrow if they could be sure that they'd all act like good capitalist automatons.
posted by macross city flaneur at 11:39 PM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


by which I mean italics tag. this is getting embarrassing.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:43 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is a very misplaced 'SLYT'.
posted by mad bomber what bombs at midnight at 11:48 PM on May 23, 2011


macross,

I'm trying to understand where you're coming from, but I'm having a hard time doing so.

Can you help me out a bit:

I agree that women should be compensated the same way men are, but katillathehun, doesn't it seem to you like the success of the women's movement is often defined by standards like this, rather than something more?

What is this "something more" that you are referring to? If its hard to define, can you give me some examples?

I think you're making some good points...but they are all pointing to this fuzzy cloud I can't quite figure out.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:51 PM on May 23, 2011


hal_c_on, I don't know exactly, and it's not for me to say, exactly...

But it seems to me like we are coming up on a crisis in the women's movement where women like Sarah Palin really will be able to take over and define it as completely congenial to the very culture it has always fought against.

Precisely because the women's movement doesn't really seem to stand for very much politically that transcends women's issues.

If it's really just about money, power, and respect (seemingly both Beyonce's AND Nineteen Percent's positions), doesn't the women's movement just seem like a rival mafia group? If so, then Republicans make much better hitwomen. So why shouldn't they be the new leaders of the women's movement? Why shouldn't Sarah Palin be the most quintessential feminist around? That's what she wants, isn't it? Money, power, respect?

And that's the point where the women's movement fails to appeal to me anymore.
posted by macross city flaneur at 12:23 AM on May 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Over the past 30 years capitalism has only become more dominant, while the white patriarchy has receded: the takeway is that "white capitalist patriarchy" isn't a coherent concept: if capitalism needed white patriarchy in order to function, that ground would not have been ceded, or capitalism would have been weakened along with the rest."

Yeah, I really don't agree with this. First of all, it hasn't been ceded at all. Just because the Republicans have embraced Bobby Jindal and Clarence Thomas doesn't mean they've ceded the issue of race. Not remotely.

And the question whether "white capitalist patriarchy" is a coherent concept is far from settled. I want to give you the point just because I don't believe "whiteness" is a coherent concept, or even "race", let alone whiteness added to other things.

But you could argue that there's a western colonialist logic inherent in capital, and indeed, many Marxists do just that, i.e. once the exploitation of the developing world comes to an end, there will BE no more capitalism, because without that exploitation, it isn't a sustainable system.
posted by macross city flaneur at 12:40 AM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I get what Macross is saying and I do agree with it.

One way to rephrase it might be to say: Even if there are more women at the top; if it's the same system that they're on top of, with it's goals and methods; there will still be just as many women on the bottom.

It's somewhat like saying Obama is a President Of The United States who happens to be Black as opposed to a Black President.

We should be holding up the people who want to change what it does instead of what it looks like. Otherwise it's just a gender or race war to control the same exploitative system that causes the suffering of so many.

I'm not exactly sure what this has to do with Beyonce though.
posted by TheKM at 12:56 AM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Single Ladies strikes me as being quite empowering. If not, there are worse messages than "If you want to be with me, you better show some commitment."

I'm more ambivalent about Running the World. I think though that Beyonce is perfectly aware that women don't run the world. And I think sometimes if you say something enough times, it starts to become true.

But I liked nineteen percent. Good stuff said good.
posted by seanyboy at 1:10 AM on May 24, 2011


Beyonce's songs have always been pretty retro in terms of gender relationship stuff. Even single ladies was really a song about how traditional marriage should be the goal of a woman. But lots of her older songs are like that too.

They also seem like, I dunno, the anthems of beautiful women who have really rich guys fawning over them. A lot of them come across as spoiled even.
posted by delmoi at 1:15 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree with seanyboy above. What if Beyonce never sang about female empowerment at all? She could be singing cookie-cutter broken-hearted love songs, with no message. It's "damned if you do, damned if you don't." The Vlogger, while smart, seems like a hater. I would be proud to have a daughter listen to Beyonce, and run around the house singing "who run the world? girls" OR "me myself, and I, that's all have in the end." (what about that one, delmoi?)

Beyonce owns her sexuality. It strikes me as puritan fear to think what she does is exploitative or wrong. Beyonce is beautiful, she knows it, and she loves it. She uses the power of her body to make her performances dynamic, attractive, and outrageous.
posted by coaster at 1:20 AM on May 24, 2011


I agree with her that women should have more sex with guys.
posted by delmoi at 1:21 AM on May 24, 2011


I mean 19%, which is what her 'tight vagina' video is about.
posted by delmoi at 1:22 AM on May 24, 2011


"Even when your husband is not worrying about money, cash or hos, he still has 99 problems."

This is somewhat unfair, but admittedly hilarious.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:22 AM on May 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


First of all, it hasn't been ceded at all. Just because the Republicans have embraced Bobby Jindal and Clarence Thomas doesn't mean they've ceded the issue of race. Not remotely.

The Republicans certainly haven't, but the Republican party is not the capitalist order much as they might like to think so. Capitalist hierarchy has become more dominant while the white patriarchy part has become less dominant. Two different trendlines. If capitalism was a of piece with white patriarchy – and many Republicans may believe that at some level – they'd rise and fall together. That's not what's happened.
posted by furiousthought at 1:26 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


who are these people you are talking about?
posted by 3mendo at 2:08 AM on May 24, 2011


There are five songwriters credited for "Run the World (Girls)" (aside from Beyonce herself, who is famous for demanding credit on songs she didn't actually write).

I bet she thought of the title. That's gotta be worth a 50% cut, right?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:19 AM on May 24, 2011


who are these people you are talking about?

Yeah, is this something I'd need to click on the links to understand?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:21 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Precisely because the women's movement doesn't really seem to stand for very much politically that transcends women's issues.


Women are rightfully the focus of the "women's movement" (which is broad and varied and diverse but go ahead and pigeonhole it). Much of the women's movement has to do with things like having workplaces that are free of sexual harassment, getting women appropriate medical care, and yes, allowing women the same opportunities as men.

The idea that women should somehow have to "earn" these opportunities by agreeing with your politics and your standard of "womanly behavior" or "womanly decision-making" or else they might as well what, stay home? is disgusting to me. It's a huge double standard and it's obnoxiously stereotypical. Women don't do politics in any one way.There are good and bad women. Just like there are good and bad men. And yet you don't ask "why have men in politics at all?" Only women have to jump through your ideological hoops in order to get equal opportunity and treatment and money and power and respect. Men can just do whatever, right?

Fuck. That.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:00 AM on May 24, 2011 [18 favorites]


Women are really hard on each other. I mean damn.


That was a man saying that. Just to be clear that there aren't any women in here saying "the women's movement, so lame for not dismantling capitalism! So lame for focusing on women instead of what I (a man) think they should focus on! What a pointless movement! Also LOL Carly Fiorina!!!"
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:05 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a pop song people. It has no effect on who runs the world.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:23 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


the young rope rider, I took something a little different away from reading those posts (though my interpretation of what macross city flaneur was trying to say may be totally off base - please correct me if so, MCF).

If I understood it right, he wasn't suggesting that there's a right or wrong focus for advancing women's equality in the workplace and passing judgment on what he saw as the wrong focus.

I thought he was saying that finding victory purely in a numbers game (ie. getting 50% of any given executive group filled by women, at equal pay - not a great example, but just a clear one of seeing it purely numerically) was perhaps shortsighted. In that, the system women would have positional-equality in was still a system created by men and in that case - looking at re-evaluating the basic structures of it could be something we could consider as well. (Or instead of? I wasn't sure on that part)
posted by pseudonymph at 3:24 AM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also isn't blogging about pop songs a "distraction" from running the world? Fact is, Beyonce runs her own damn world more than most of us.

The commentary is too serious, and it sounds like it was edited by Robert Krulwich. Pauses in speech have a purpose.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:27 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find myself agreeing with so many sides on this issue. Beyoncé, Nineteen Percent, macross city flaneur, and the young rope-rider.

I strongly believe you are all correct. Society is an organism which progresses in different manners at different points in society. All of these aforementioned individuals have, in one sense or another, progressive viewpoints. Arguments as to who (or which form of feminism) is more correct is both a statement of and catalyst for social progression, which in this instance, is feminism.

That's why I agree with so many. Because all progress is good. s/good/FUCKING NECESSARY FOR OUR SPECIES SURVIVAL/
posted by special agent conrad uno at 3:58 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, if you see the current order as fundamentally evil, and one in which the way to become powerful is to be better at being evil than other people, then you see the exclusion of women from positions of power as at most a non-relevant thing. You may actually be quite glad of it, as it means that one gender is being kept largely "pure" of the corrupting influence of being at the top of the capitalist tree.

One problem with that is that it's a very Western viewpoint - it's not surprising that all the examples of morally evil leaders Macross City Flaneur provided are American or Europeans, It's also a very flat, non-dynamic viewpoint - it presupposes that the only consequence of equality of opportunity for women would be that more women would occupy roles currently occupied by men, and that the roles or structures would not otherwise change. And finally it essentially argues that equality of opportunity for women is not a useful target for activity, because all efforts must be dedicated to changing the system - otherwise women will just have to become evil in order to succeed even if they have an equal opportunity to do so. However, since the system is currently looking pretty entrenched, that looks a lot like advocating inaction.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:24 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yawwwwwn...Did anyone really expect actual empowerment lyrics from the same person who brought you the "ho-in-empowerment-clothing" dreck of Single Ladies? How that song ever passed muster as an anthem of "girl-power" I'll never know, since its main message (to my ears) seemed to be "I'm giving it up to anyone willing to spend big money on me".
posted by Thorzdad at 4:43 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thorzdad: How that song ever passed muster as an anthem of "girl-power" I'll never know, since its main message (to my ears) seemed to be "I'm giving it up to anyone willing to spend big money on me".

Eh? Where are you getting the money angle? The storyline of the song (such as it is) is that Beyonce's ex dumped her but is now getting jealous that she's dancing with another guy. Beyonce contends that if the ex cared that much, he should have married her. Since he didn't, he can go to hell and she's going to dance up a storm with the new chap.

No money mentions there that I can see.
posted by pseudonymph at 5:13 AM on May 24, 2011


Macross is obviously talking about a transformational feminist framework, so they must have just read bell hooks "Feminist Theory: Margin to Center". She posits in that book that just getting women into powerful positions shouldn't be considered success by a radical feminists because they are just supporting and legitimizing an system that is inherently masculinist in competition over cooperation, hierarchies, etc. There's lot of different feminisms and I can understand how people get confused or upset by radical perspectives when they are expecting something more second-wave.
posted by fuq at 5:21 AM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ching Shih kicked ass in a man's world.

But mostly I agree that women are treated poorly in nearly every society on the planet, which is 1,000 kinds of fucked up.
posted by bwg at 5:31 AM on May 24, 2011


Oh, and that Beyonce song? Weak.
posted by bwg at 5:33 AM on May 24, 2011


/me checks macross city flaneur profile, finds out macross is a man who is actually debating what the women's movement should really focus on (destroying capitalism) instead of, you know, achieving equal opportunity for women, thinks of a The Onion article, facepalms.
posted by falameufilho at 5:36 AM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


pseudonymph : Eh? Where are you getting the money angle? The storyline of the song (such as it is) is that Beyonce's ex dumped her but is now getting jealous that she's dancing with another guy. Beyonce contends that if the ex cared that much, he should have married her. Since he didn't, he can go to hell and she's going to dance up a storm with the new chap.

I'd agree that it doesn't quite echo the "material girl" stance ("Don't treat me to the things of the world; I'm not that kind of girl"), but I can't agree with your interpretation, either...

The song doesn't actually say that he dumped her (and in fact, implies the reverse - Though I'll admit I can't quite parse "decided to dip"); More that he wouldn't commit, wouldn't "put a ring on it" and thereby provide material "proof" of his subservience to institutionalized bondage - So she ditched him for some random guy at the club.

Either way, definitely not about an "empowered" woman moving on.
posted by pla at 6:07 AM on May 24, 2011


fuq: Macross is obviously talking about a transformational feminist framework, so they must have just read bell hooks "Feminist Theory: Margin to Center".

That's a little dismissive, possibly, but certainly the model's there. One issue is, however, that in the hands of a man (and I think that in these discussions positions cannot be wholly gender-blind) the argument that giving women access to power not only is not an achievable goal but should not be an objective until the entire patriarchy has been overturned has the same functional output as the argument that women should not have access to power because they are not constitutionally equipped to wield it. The problem with holding up Carly Fiorina and saying "this is what the current system does to women in positions of power" or "this is the kind of woman who is successful in the current system" is that the sample size is tiny.

Female CEOs of Fortune 100 companies? I can think of about a dozen offhand, current and past, since Fiorina's appointment in 1999. Female CEOs of big technology companies? There are so few that each one is a case study in herself - and let's not forget the absolute slating that Fiorina, Meg Whitman and Carol Bartz all get and got. Marissa Mayer at Google isn't even CEO, just the most senior female executive, and she gets a huge amount of venom shot her way about her competence to do her job and how she might have got it.

Plus in almost every case these people were hired by male-dominated boards, and took over from and were succeeded by men. The only US tech company of any size I can think of where one female CEO handed over to another female CEO is Xerox, where Anne Mulcahey retired and Ursula Burns took over.

(I'm sure I'm forgetting some people, but I think the point stands).

And, absolutely, Obama being elected doesn't mean the end of racism, any more than Ursula Burns becoming CEO of Xerox means the end of racism and sexism, and they are still both parts of big machines. But unless you are serious about overturning society as a whole, or of creating a genuinely separate channel, this is still the system that exists. IMHO, if by some miracle suddenly tomorrow the political and business landscape of the US was suddenly made to reflect its demographics, or even the pure merits of its employees, we'd see significant changes pretty quickly. Assuming this isn't going to happen, the question then becomes what should.

Getting back ontopic, bell hooks on African-American music is a really interesting read; there's a 1994 article here, and a 1996 video here, where she speaks in a way that is still relevant 15 years later to the way music (and moral panic) is produced and consumed.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:10 AM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Aha. In In Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, bell hook says "In this society, power is commonly equated with domination and control over people or things... Radical feminists challenged the prevailing notion of power as domination and attempted to transform its meaning...As feminist movement progressed, critiques of the notion of power as domination and control were submerged as bousgeois activists began to focus on women over-coming their fear of power (the implication being that if they wanted social equality with men, they would need to participate equally in exercising domination and control over others)... Women interested in reforms that would lead to social equality with men wanted to obtain greater power in the existing system... we must reject the notion that obtaining power in the existing social structure will neccesarily advance feminist struggle to end sexist oppression. It may allow numbers of women to gain greater material priviledge, control over their destiny and the destiny of others, all of which are important goals. It will not end male domination as a system."
posted by fuq at 6:15 AM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh yeah running order squabble fest, I don't mean to say that the perspective is the best one, I just want to say that it's a legitimate perspective and even though it's a man expressing it, the ideas are quite serious in feminism and should be taken seriously. Folks here seem to be surprised by radical feminism and that's not what I expected.
posted by fuq at 6:25 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eh? Where are you getting the money angle?
Really? The refrain, repeated over and over..."If you liked it, then you should've put a ring on it"...explicitly declares her fidelity is dependent on expensive material trappings.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:31 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thorzdad: It means if you wanted me that much, you should have proposed, for Heaven's sake. Your profile says you are married. Does your wife or husband wear a ring? If so, is he or she dependent on expensive material trappings?
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:36 AM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


pla: The song doesn't actually say that he dumped her (and in fact, implies the reverse - Though I'll admit I can't quite parse "decided to dip"); More that he wouldn't commit, wouldn't "put a ring on it" and thereby provide material "proof" of his subservience to institutionalized bondage - So she ditched him for some random guy at the club.

Oh, see, that was the section that gave me the impression he dumped her. I took 'decided to dip' to be slang for, basically, cutting and running. And within the context of the surrounding lines, i thought it implied he was the dumper:

Up in the club, just broke up
I’m doing my own little thing
Decided to dip but now you wanna trip
Cuz another brother noticed me


The 'but now you wanna trip' doesn't make much sense if it was her. He would be expected to trip if she left him and immediately took up with another guy, right?

This is not something I ever thought i'd be thinking about, for the record.
posted by pseudonymph at 6:40 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nothing highlights how childish most pop music is better than a hoary old "boys/girls suck; girls/boys rule" schoolyard argument. Jesus fuck, while this vlogger is probably correct in his assessment of yet another shitty gender-dichotomy song, the real response is to stop paying any mind to mindless attention whores like Beyonce.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:52 AM on May 24, 2011


clvrmnky: The vlogger is a woman. Thanks for demonstrating out of the blocks that you didn't actually follow the link.

fuq: Sure - it's a position that I think has a lot going for it. However, I think mcf initial posit - an achievement of 50% of female leadership in the US - would itself break the model somewhat. The current model has a very limited number of women even eligible for elevation, because they are being winnowed out by social practice, cultural practice and a series of tests and selections primarily set and controlled by men.

pla/pseudonymph: "Dip" means "to leave" - as in "I decided to dip out of there" - often with a sense of abruptness. Since the subject of "now you wanna trip" (now you want to be very emotional) is clearly her former partner, one might assume that this is also the subject of the preceding clause, especially since if you listen to the song Beyoncé says "you" before "decided to dip" - this is slightly obscured in the regular edit, but is very clear in e.g. the RedTop remix. So the meaning is:

We have just broken up. You left me, but you are now upset because I am dancing with another man. You have no right to be so - you left me, and failed to commit during our relationship. If you want to have a stake in my sexuality for the rest of time, you should have shown that by offering me an engagement or wedding ring during our relationship. It is too late now for you to be upset. I have "cried all my tears" both during and after our relationship, and am now over you. I am now enjoying being single.

pla: If you believe that marriage is an irredeemably patriarchal institution, and that no woman or man interested in equality can possibly also submit to the misogynist institution of marriage as it stands - which is what provide material "proof" of his subservience to institutionalized bondage sounds like - then your position is consistent. Beyoncé is betraying the sisterhood by wanting to get married at all, or for deciding that her ex's failure to propose to her was a sing of a lack of commitment. She should in fact be grateful that he saved her from her desire to submit to the patriarchal yoke as a result of her own patriarchal indoctrination.

Is that what you believe?
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:56 AM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, "dip" means leave, so he's the one who left but has the nerve to get jealous that she's moved on.
posted by Danila at 7:00 AM on May 24, 2011


("sign of a lack of commitment", of course. Although she is singing about a lack of commitment... )
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:00 AM on May 24, 2011


Just reading through the lyrics Effigy2000 posted; what does she mean by 'motha'?

It's shorthand for motherfucker.

Funny, I always took Beyonce's songs as being somewhat sarcastic, or ironic, but then I've only peripherally paid attention to her.
posted by zarah at 7:13 AM on May 24, 2011


she doesn't do anything to convince me that someone writing/performing a dance song with dumb lyrics is going to have a negative impact on making the world a better place for women.

Some friends and I were talking about the morality of pop lyrics last week, though Beyonce didn't come up. I argued that what makes pop music potentially damaging isn't usually the direct message of the lyrics, but rather the way those lyrics are framed. Kids won't listen to a pop song and agree wholesale with the lyrics, but they might start to believe in some of the underlying thinking behind the music.

Taylor Swift's music, for instance, is doing a surface-level Good Thing when she sings about being an "unattractive", "unpopular" girl, because it means she's supporting the underdog. But her music will sometimes slur or insult girls who aren't the "un"s, so she's still not pushing for empathy and understanding, she's just selling a different kind of intolerance. The fact that she's willing to establish at all a dichotomy between the "populars" and the "unpopulars" could be damaging if people listen to her music and let it strengthen their convictions that this us-vs-them worldview is natural and (worse) acceptable.

Nobody listens to Ke$ha's music and thinks that getting wasted every night is a socially "good" thing, but what they might think is that her music validates the choice to not be good. Much as people my age are driven to smoking even when they know it's bad, for a plethora of reasons. (Maybe some of those people really are making a clear-eyed look at their life and deciding they want to smoke, but I already have friends who are trying and failing to quit, and I think it's really unfortunate.)

I know a lot of guys and girls who'll get monumentally wasted and do things they regret —  sometimes multiple times a week, which I think is a bit too often, and justify themselves by saying "I'm young, I'm supposed to be making mistakes." I kind of think that the sorts of "mistakes" you're supposed to make when you're young are more along the lines of trying new experiences and taking risks, rather than engaging in behavior that you know is harmful and pointless, but there's absolutely a voice in pop culture that indirectly tells us that it's okay and even expected to hurt ourselves when we're young. Ke$ha would never say that directly in a lyric, but it's everywhere in her music.

Now, there's an argument to be made that we shouldn't expect morality and self-awareness in our pop culture, and I half agree. But I kind of wish that we did have pop artists who sat down and asked themselves, "How do I want to impact youth culture? How can I sell a message without being preachy to them?"

And maybe that surface message is enough to do some good. Probably Taylor Swift does a lot of good for young girls, and maybe the harm she does is negligent. Possibly Beyonce's music's been used as get-pumped music for a lot of women who need pop anthems. But certainly there's something not-so-good about writing a series of smug, congratulatory songs about how powerful women are when you're in a society where women still aren't that powerful. You might convince a lot of girls that things are better than they are, and implicitly discourage them from thinking about how to try and make the world a better place. You might also promote a shallow one-upmanship that subsequently turns off guys from wanting to take feminism and women's rights seriously.

Maybe that last point is stacking this plate of beans too high, but I do wonder about this. A lot of people really dislike feminism, and I suspect that a part of it has to do with how certain feminist media presents its arguments. On the one hand, you have people who are very passionate and fact-driven but so worked up about the issue that they'll alienate moderate apathetics rather than convincing them to take an interest. On the other hand, there's a certain strain of women empowerment that is pretty smug and obnoxious and (worst of all) ignorant/detached from the realities of exactly why we need a women's rights movement.

It took me until I was about nineteen to start taking women's rights seriously, and part of that is because I'm an overprivileged white dude who never had to think about the issue, but part of it is absolutely that my female peers often pushed women's rights with senseless white-hot fury, or with a smug "men suck girls rule" ignorance that they in no way backed up with actual moral superiority. I'm now fairly estranged from pop culture, so I don't think I can speak to how Beyonce's directly affecting youth culture (and like I said, possibly she's doing a lot of good!), but I wonder if songs like "Single Ladies" and "Run The World" are raising a new little generation of girls who are cocky but still complacent, and boys who think girls who think about women's rights are just being part of a snooty little club.

Even if the message you're pushing is superficially a good thing, the subtext is what matters. I'd like more "women's rights (here's why we need it, and here's what has to be changed)" and less "women's rights (isn't it great we've got em?)". This video blog was the former, and that's kind of awesome. Like I said earlier, I want more of this.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:17 AM on May 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


(disclaimer: I'm a guy, and any of my thoughts/perspectives/vantage points may be grossly wrong without my being aware. Correct me if they are without making me feel too bad about myself plz. :-D)
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:19 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thorzdad: "Yawwwwwn...Did anyone really expect actual empowerment lyrics from the same person who brought you the "ho-in-empowerment-clothing" dreck of Single Ladies?"

What I'm taking away from the discussion isn't that people necessarily expected Beyoncé to sing a song with a feminist message, but that to pretend this particular song is feminist is dishonest.

Beyond that, I'm going to avoid hopping into any sort of mansplaining with regards to what feminism should be or what it ought to try and achieve.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:44 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


mansplaining!
posted by nile_red at 7:52 AM on May 24, 2011


It's interesting that you talk about being "turned off" of feminism, Rory, because for a pretty long time I identified as being "egalitarian", simply because I didn't want to be associated with the negative stigma of being thought a radical feminist. I was uncharacteristically timid in discussing women's issues with my guy friends, and pre-empted everything I said with a disclaimer that I don't actually hate all men.

But the more invested I got in the actual issues, the more sick I felt of my...well, hypocrisy, really. There are nice feminists and there are smug feminists, but Feminism itself as a movement is worth supporting. By dissociating myself from it, I was effectively diluting the movement. The people who were labeling feminists as being "nazis" or "man-haters", well, they weren't too interested in the overall success of women, and I didn't want to let their opinion affect the values I stood for. Why not be a proud feminist, and change people's ideas of what feminism could be, instead of cringing away from the label? I was behaving like a girl who proudly claimed that she wasn't petty or spiteful like 'other girls', which...really helped no one.

Anyway, this took quite a bit of thinking through, and I eventually blogged about it. I received at least three or four emails from friends snidely congratulating me on coming out of the closet. That's really only cemented my decision since then.

So my point is: yeah, Beyonce's songs don't help. But all we can do in the interim is provide a countervailing, better example for young people growing up. That's all anyone can do, really.
posted by Phire at 8:09 AM on May 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's so great when other people explain to me what should or shouldn't make me feel empowered.
posted by kyrademon at 8:12 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


A lot of people really dislike feminism, and I suspect that a part of it has to do with how certain feminist media presents its arguments

I have a feeling it has a lot more to do with feminism challenging privilege, and its message being misrepresented, sometimes deliberately, to undermine that challenge.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:17 AM on May 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


Can't it be both?
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:18 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sure, but the discussion must be done with an awareness that "feminism alienates people" is a tricky trope -- it's often expressed by people who treat feminism as some sort of universal philosophy, as though a mass of thinkers who often loudly and publicly disagree with each other about how to interpret and respond to an institution of oppression actually has one unified voice, and that voice is whoever they find the most irritating, and therefore it is feminism's fault that they were alienated by it -- which, if you have the privilege, in an awfully convenient way to ignore a challenge to your privilege -- instead of their own fault for not investigating further.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:23 AM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Definitely — I'm sorry if it sounded like I was saying this. I mean, the video from the FPP is a refutation of the idea that feminism is inherently an alienating, off-putting subject.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:27 AM on May 24, 2011


Oh, I didn't mean to sound like I was accusing you of ignoring this point. I just wanted to make it, because sometimes people will take the "feminists are alienating" thing and run with it, and I wanted to offer an alternative viewpoint. Sorry if it sounded as though I was taking you to task.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:29 AM on May 24, 2011


Wow, all this talk about two completely shitty pop songs? No comparison, they both suck! People need to get their heads out of their ass. At least Beyonce can belt. I can't even believe we're debating the merits of the lyrics to these songs; both factory-made, market-tested, and "motha"-approved.
posted by ReeMonster at 8:32 AM on May 24, 2011


Y'know, I watched the video and I really wanted to like it, because I think it's cool that someone closer to the hip-hop spectrum (yes, I realize it's pop) was going all post-Apocalyptic.

But then she intimidated all those dudes with her frightening dance and I lost every bit of suspension of disbelief.

I want to like Beyonce. I really do. And admittedly, I like a lot of what she does considerably more than the rest of the near-hip-hop-but-it's-pop crowd. But she could clearly do so much better.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:34 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I actually think pop music, even shitty pop music, has the power to change the world, and is worth taking seriously. You'd be surprised what can affect what, and so these discussions aren't meaningless because they are about something that is beneath consideration. Nothing that reaches millions of people is beneath consideration. Actually, nothing at all is beneath consideration.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:41 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Without mansplaining overmuch - Rory, there's a thing called the tone argument which is relevant here, I think.

Certainly I've thought "that tone is not going to win people over" at times - but then, if someone doesn't want to listen, no tone is ever going to be conciliatory or polite enough - and, for that matter, even a relatively calm tone can be written off as vitriolic or hysterical.

To be honest, if you take the statistics in the vlog as reasonably accurate (women make up 90% of reported rape reports and 95% of domestic abuse reports in the US, and earn 78% of the wage of men for the same work), I'm kind of amazed the discourse is so calm. An angry tone once in a while doesn't seem wholly inappropriate.

What I'm taking away from the discussion isn't that people necessarily expected Beyoncé to sing a song with a feminist message, but that to pretend this particular song is feminist is dishonest.

Or at least optimistic - "Girls (who run the world)" might more accurately be called post-feminist; it's outlining a worldview where women's supposed power to manipulate and control men through desire means that they already have power. They have "soft power" - in fact, one extension of this argument, used depressingly by both men and women, is that women should not pursue visible equality, because doing so will make men aware of how little power they already have.

Of course, it's tricky to say "Beyoncé believes x" or "Beyoncé is saying y", because her songs are written collaboratively, and because music is a type of performance. Is the Beyoncé in the first-person narrative in "Single Ladies" the same as the Beyoncé in "Survivor", or the Beyoncé who is married to Jay-Z, for that matter?

One of the interesting things in particular about responses to African American music is that the music is often assumed to be stronger than the personality of the creator or the listener - which is the basis of a lot of the panicked critiques of gangsta rap in the 90s. That bell hooks article I linked to earlier has an interesting piece on Spin magazine sending her to interview Ice Cube, and then cutting the article to almost nothing when they had a serious, respectful conversation rather than a knock-down, drag-out fight between The Black Feminist and The Misogynist Rapper. That gets particularly problematic, of course, when people use their interpretations of songs as an opportunity to call a woman a ho, or write her off as a mindless attention whore.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:42 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I find Beyonce's statement that I will do anything for her to be overtly threatening in a sexual manner. Do I have to be her slave? I have no doubt of her mind control powers. Can't we just be nice to each other?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:53 AM on May 24, 2011


Well, gender equality would have been accomplished, which is worth something in itself, no?

I'm not sure. What do you think it would be worth to accomplish gender equality if nothing else were changed? This is an issue with some resonance for me, since it seems the focus of gay politics has changed from liberation to equality, and I've found the results of that shift disappointing.
posted by layceepee at 9:28 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Her performance at the Billboard Awards was fantastic (I guess the kids say "epic" these days). It's not a great song, but Beyonce is a first-class song-and-dance woman.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:00 AM on May 24, 2011


Certainly I've thought "that tone is not going to win people over" at times - but then, if someone doesn't want to listen, no tone is ever going to be conciliatory or polite enough - and, for that matter, even a relatively calm tone can be written off as vitriolic or hysterical.

I actually don't know if being non-angry is necessary at all. Again: I'm sorry if I made it sound like I was complaining about feminists being "shrill" or what-have-you; I know that's a common trope and it bothers me when guys use it too. I actually think that anger/rage can be as comforting and enjoyable as saturated fat and don't see any reason to replace it with obsequious pleasantness.

But I do think that if you're going to argue something like this, you need to both know your facts (like this girl does), instead of presenting vague generalities like "men keep women down but women have inner power", which understandably makes people think the presenter is full of shit, and you also need to know what terminology you understand but other people might interpret as gobbledigook and therefore bullshit (even when it's not). Needless to say pop music falls into the former category way more; people in the latter category tend to know what they're talking about and have good points, they just aren't good at understanding the other side's perspective enough to start their argument in a place where the other side can understand it.

The whole "start in a place where other people can follow you" is something that fascinates me, which is one of the reasons my major has a concentration in advertising. How complex and intimidating a message can you articulate without alienating people, if you just know where to start? I suspect you can get pretty damn far; the trick is finding that starting point. But if you know that other people don't understand the terminology and you insist on using it anyway, then you're arguing in bad faith, regardless of what tone you take.

I suspect that some people are losing arguments because of the way they use their words, and blaming their losses on people's being unwilling to listen. I have more faith in the other side than that, because I was one of those people on the other side; I didn't hate women, I just didn't understand exactly how things were. I assumed that things were pretty equal between genders because I never saw any inequality. The only time I heard about "women's rights" were either from girls who (it seemed to me) had no idea what they were talking about, or it was from girls who used language I didn't know so smugly that I assumed they'd just bought into a whole hunk of bullshit.

I got called things like "phallocentric oppressor", and I'd get pretty pissed off, because I was just a dude who pretty much didn't rape women, so I didn't see how I was oppressing people. Then I got told that I was an oppressor because I didn't see how I was an oppressor, which pissed me off even more. If somebody had said to me, even angrily, "Part of the problem stems from how men don't see a lot of the worst offenses that happen to women, so they assume that their lighter, more 'teasing' sexism isn't as hurtful as it really is," then it would have got me thinking. And in fact that's what did happen two winters ago, when I spent a month reading through a bunch of old MetaFilter threads that profoundly changed how I looked at these things.

I love angry tones when they're used well. Anger that lets itself get senseless and unempathetic is what's dangerous. So is self-righteousness that makes you feel smug without really understanding. I worry that something like Beyonce might have that effect on people. But again, I'm not really that connected to pop culture, so I might be totally wrong here, and it might really have uplifting effects on the people who listen to it. That was all speculation on my part.

posted by Rory Marinich at 10:02 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was a man saying that. Just to be clear that there aren't any women in here saying "the women's movement, so lame for not dismantling capitalism! So lame for focusing on women instead of what I (a man) think they should focus on! What a pointless movement! Also LOL Carly Fiorina!!!"

I don't think this is an apt paraphrase of what mcr is getting at. Leave economics alone for a minute if you like, and focus on women's reproductive issues. Imagine for a moment if Fiorina had won her recent senate race and had begun an anti-abortion crusade consistent with her election posturing. How does that sit with you?

I can see that maybe we don't solve all our problems at once and I don't know that I have any particular beef with picking, say, equalized compensation as one to start with. But I also it's worthwhile to be skeptical of progress that might not be more revolutionary than allowing an equal number of women and men to oppress other women (or men for that matter). And this isn't hypothetical. The most recent lowball offer I've seen delivered to a woman who deserved better was delivered by another woman.

It's probably worth referencing Ursula K. Leguin's commencement addresses.

What do you think it would be worth to accomplish gender equality if nothing else were changed?

The skepticism might even go farther than "what would it be worth?" -- I wonder if it would actually even work. I think it's possible we're evaluating a statement something like Boromir's idea that taking The One Ring would tip the balance of power against Sauron and enable his defeat.

mansplaining!

Or like deciding the best way to promote gender equality is to also wield gender-based disqualification/trivialization the other direction.
posted by weston at 10:10 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The basic issue with Macross' attitude is that yet again we have a big hairy sweaty sperm-loaded MAN telling women what they should do, and basing it on an archaic notion of inherent female "specialness" that is barely one step away from Victorian notions of womanhood. So gosh, women shouldn't have power until they can reform it all according to hippy-dippy utopian notions. I'm sure those ladies will greatly appreciate your setting them straight on what they should REALLY want.

This actually is a perfect example of why anime fans shouldn't be allowed to vote. A few too many episodes of Robotech or Oh My Goddess, and they get this distorted view of women being about spirituality, and nurturing, and Love and Heart and stuff. This can only lead to heartbreak when they look up from their Wing Gundam fanfic and realize that Hilary Clinton's first act as secretary of state was not to appear at the UN and song a song that immediately caused peace and understanding throughout the world. Best to keep anime fans to the areas they are spiritually adapted for, which is writing Bleach lesbian slashfic.
posted by happyroach at 10:25 AM on May 24, 2011


The only conclusion I cam to after reading the lyrics to Run The World is that if Beyonce should be criticised for anything, its for writing shitty music.

I used to think SongMeanings should be the lyrics standard source, but it's been slipping ... what's the YouTube of lyrics?

Boy you know you love it
How we're smart enough to make these millions
Strong enough to bear the children
Then get back to business

posted by mrgrimm at 10:26 AM on May 24, 2011


So gosh, women shouldn't have power until they can reform it all according to hippy-dippy utopian notions. I'm sure those ladies will greatly appreciate your setting them straight on what they should REALLY want.

happyroach, can you explain the difference between this reading of mcr's post and what UKL has to say in the commencement addresses I linked to when she talks about the "mother tongue" vs the "father tongue"? Or would you say she's also grounded in quasi-Victorian notions?
posted by weston at 10:31 AM on May 24, 2011


She's a powerful woman but probably knows better than anyone that her industry is as male-dominated as any other.

But does she care? Since she's getting hers and all? That seems to be the question here. Is she just shaking her ass and dropping "girl power" as a catchphrase to promulgate the same old patriarchal philosophies?

Basically, gender-race-neutral capitalist hierarchy is an improvement over white capitalist patriarchy.

I'd say it's worse because it mollifies those who might otherwise object. It doesn't matter if X "minority" or individual is "getting some" because there is a systemic failure going on.

I don't think she's right when she says that girls who hear this song will be convinced that they actually run the world and will stop taking actions that will make the world a better place for women.

I would definitely say that some girls would listen to this song and watch the video (and watch what else Beyonce does) and think that they "rule the world" because they can shake their asses and make men get boners.

I think the video is like shooting fish in a barrel. I watched a few minutes but yeah, I get it.

Single Ladies strikes me as being quite empowering. If not, there are worse messages than "If you want to be with me, you better show some commitment."

Buy me a diamond so I won't sleep with other men. The referred ring is not a wedding ring. It is an engagement ring. The lyrics are mostly nonsense, but I get the impression that she wouldn't have been happy (or as happy) with a proposal that didn't include a diamond ring. Perhaps my own bias is showing.

/me checks macross city flaneur profile, finds out macross is a man who is actually debating what the women's movement should really focus on (destroying capitalism) instead of, you know, achieving equal opportunity for women

This is one reason why politically sympathetic men get "turned off" feminism. I'm with bell hooks here.

This actually is a perfect example of why anime fans shouldn't be allowed to vote...

and the kimono opens ...
posted by mrgrimm at 10:53 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The basic issue with Macross' attitude is that yet again we have a big hairy sweaty sperm-loaded MAN telling women what they should do

Association fallacy and one major assumption (that macross is proposing his way is the only correct way). There is a big difference between suggesting an idea and ordering someone that they have to do something. You are painting macross' comments with a very broad brush here.

If you're not willing to take any political or philosophical input whatsoever from any men ever, well, that's your loss. I think that's a poor approach to feminism, but there we go again b/c I am a man ...
posted by mrgrimm at 10:57 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah running order squabble fest, I don't mean to say that the perspective is the best one, I just want to say that it's a legitimate perspective and even though it's a man expressing it, the ideas are quite serious in feminism and should be taken seriously. Folks here seem to be surprised by radical feminism and that's not what I expected.

Men telling women that feminism "turns them off" because of X reason is never surprising. Not this time, not ever.

The fact that you find my disagreement to be insufficiently serious or respectful of the ideas underlying that shitty comment is not a problem for me. I don't feel the need to bust out a bibliography or hide my irritation in order to respond to shit on metafilter, no matter how much it might glance off of someone's actually thoughtful work.

(unless macross etc. is actually bell hooks, in which case I apologize and suggest that we take this discussion to an actual feminist space)
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:58 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Weston: To be fair, "mansplain" is a hilarious word, and a huge amount of fun to say.

On equality, though - I think the interesting thing about this question of "equality", or "equality versus revolution" is how one defines equality, and how revolutionary it is. So, for example, equal pay for the same job. That doesn't necessarily change anything about how many people, on the day after it happens, come into work, and how many of them are men and how many are women. But it makes a big statement about the value of women's labour. And also possibly it raises the bar on whether a large number of women with children can afford to work (because the increased pay makes it a better deal against childcare costs, although of course in many cases those will go up also).

Then equality of executive appointment - so, you have 50.7% of businesses headed by female CEOs, 50% representation on boards, 50% of executives are women, let's say. I think that would involve a huge change, because you'd have to reach far, far beyond the very small set of women the current boards feel comfortable working with, deep into the larger set of women who could do the job. And then what about the mentors? Many, many successful people, especially in the tech sector, have had mentors, who were almost universally men and who introduced them to influential friends, who were also men. To get around this, you'd need this equal division of seniority to extend, and to have extended, back several generations of working life. Which also means that children have a vast range of female role models in swathes of industry which are currently overwhelmingly male.

But, of course, those aren't the only kinds of numerical equality. Right now, women are vastly more likely to be harassed, to be sexually assaulted or to be attacked by their partners. What happens if the statistical risks were somehow reduced to 1:1 parity between men and women? How does that change how the genders interact? Or, for that matter, how about if men and women get equal sovereignty over their bodies, so what happens inside a woman's body is her business, and the state doesn't get to limit her access to medical treatments on moral grounds?

mcf makes a perfectly good point, I think, in saying that the power structures we have in the US today were built by men, and exist to the advantage of men (or, to be more exact, wealthy and powerful men, and for most of the history of the country white men), and that this machine can't be brought down by anything less than drastic change. But I would disagree on how unchangeable they are by changes to their internal structures.

If there are 15 or so female CEOs across the Fortune 500, each is isolated and surrounded, each is carefully chosen and vetted to be acceptable to the (largely male-dominated) boards and major investors and none is likely to be able to do much individually to change the system. And if they did, or tried to, they would be identified as incompetent or acting against the interests of the shareholders, and would be sidelined or removed. As I mentioned earlier, not only are there very few female CEOs of big American companies, but cases of a female CEO following another female CEO into the role are almost unheard of.

If there were 250 female CEOs across the Fortune 500, in the biggest as well as the smallest companies (I don't think there are any female CEOs in the top 25 right now, for example), with an equal number of men and women in their executive staffs and the boards they report to, that would strike me as both a symptom and a cause of massive change. When you think about getting there from here, I can't see how it would happen with anything much less than a revolution, in and of itself. To go back to bell hooks, it's not so much about seeking power as about having power, and not so much about working within the system as having the power critically to address the system.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:02 AM on May 24, 2011


Oh, yup, there it is: " You might also promote a shallow one-upmanship that subsequently turns off guys from wanting to take feminism and women's rights seriously."

Women aren't allowed to disagree with each other! Men might not take us seriously! The problem with that isn't sexism, it's women doing stuff that normal people do, like disagree in public! Sure, men disagree about things all the time, but they're men. No one needs to be convinced to take them seriously, duh.

I'm waiting with bated breath to hear what other excuses exist for men to be turned off by feminism. It's my favorite part of discussion of women's rights--hearing what we can do to make things easier and more palatable for men. So refreshing. So brand-new. So thoughtful.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:07 AM on May 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


"happyroach, can you explain the difference between this reading of mcr's post and what UKL has to say in the commencement addresses I linked to when she talks about the "mother tongue" vs the "father tongue"? Or would you say she's also grounded in quasi-Victorian notions?"

Yeah, pretty much. Any time you get into inherent differences in language, thought, or ways of being, you're continuing a tradition that had it's genesis in Victorian notions of feminine spirituality. There was a hell of a lot of Victorian bullshit in that era of feminism, though they couched it in different terms.

In other words, different agenda, same shit.
posted by happyroach at 11:11 AM on May 24, 2011


Gosh, missed a doozy on preview:

Mrgrimm: Buy me a diamond so I won't sleep with other men. The referred ring is not a wedding ring. It is an engagement ring. The lyrics are mostly nonsense, but I get the impression that she wouldn't have been happy (or as happy) with a proposal that didn't include a diamond ring. Perhaps my own bias is showing.

You reckon? Let's run the numbers:

1) If Beyoncé isn't engaged to a man she is seeing, she will have sex with other men. Only the presence of a diamond ring will stop this. No, there is no suggestion of this in the song. You just got that impression.
2) No, there isn't any suggestion that she slept with any other men during her relationship with the man she was seeing, or that she so much as danced sexy with another man until he ended the relationship. You just get that impression.
3) No, there isn't any suggestion that the ring had to have a diamond in it. You just got the impression that she wouldn't be happy unless it was a diamond ring, and that if she wasn't happy she'd have sex with other men.

This is amazing.

I mean, I thought we were a long way down the rabbit hole when Thorzdad apparently forgot that Americans could marry, and therefore that the ring could not possibly have been anything other than a bribe to encourage fidelity, and of course that rather startling language pla used about subservience to institutional bondage.

I genuinely can't work out now whether you guys genuinely despise the institutions and traditions of marriage, seeing it as at best a desperate attempt to control women's ravening sexual appetites and at worst a form of institutional slavery, or whether you have some sort of psychic ability to gauge the interior sluttiness of characters in songs.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:24 AM on May 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


(If the latter, I always suspected that Toni Basil's performance in Hey Mickey was incredibly filthy, but it might just have been hormones. Any thoughts?)
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:25 AM on May 24, 2011


I disagree with a lot of mcr's underlying ideas, but to insult him personally and to suggest that an interest in anime somehow rendered him so incapable of common sense that his entire comment can be dismissed is just utterly ludicrous and lowers the level of discourse generally. I've seen Oh My Goddess, too, and I think Urd was pretty kickass. Attack the ideas, not the person.

I think the question of whether or not a more egalitarian world would be differeent is an interesting one. I think one trap that mcr's analysis falls into is the assumption that the basic social structure would remain the same, if we eventually got equal representation of women in powerful roles...and that's not something I buy.

It can be frustrating seeing people that we thought would fight for the minority, like Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama, simply go for more of the same. The problem, however, is that they succeeded not because the system they were working in became so much more tolerant and egalitarian, but because they understood how to play the game in a (pardon the gross overgeneralization here) white man's world. So perhaps it is not so surprising that the few token examples we have of minority figures 'making it big' don't necessarily inspire us with confidence.

Don't get me wrong, however. Women's rights and anti-discrimination movements have come a long way. But I don't think they've come far enough. I think in order for women and other minority groups to receive the type of representation and appreciation that they arguably deserve requires a fundamental shift in thinking in the way that society organizes itself. In order, for example, for the economy to factor in the unpaid labour that stay-at-home parents engage in that nevertheless contribute hugely to the advancement of society, we first need to see a redefinition of what success means, and why capitalism doesn't accurately reflect success in life.

I would like the same chances of success as a man, even if society doesn't change at all in order to give me that. After all, I speak from a position of disadvantage, and you can hardly fault me for feeling maligned. However, I think feminism and the desire for equality stems from an idealized vision of society, and perhaps it can be argued that the current world we live in is sexist and racist because it is broken. By necessity, in order to fix that broken society, something has to give. I doubt a world with equal representation of all minority groups would look the same at all.
posted by Phire at 12:06 PM on May 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


happyroach: Yeah, pretty much. Any time you get into inherent differences in language, thought, or ways of being, you're continuing a tradition that had it's genesis in Victorian notions of feminine spirituality. There was a hell of a lot of Victorian bullshit in that era of feminism, though they couched it in different terms.

I'm not sure which era of feminism we're talking about, but the idea that groups comprised of, formed by or led by women and men are non-identical, be that through nature or nurture, isn't a hugely controversial one. I mean, it's perfectly possible that if women had been the dominant gender for the last forever society would look exactly the same but with slightly smaller seats on airplanes, but it's not certain or proven.

(That said, I think where mcf and bell hooks part company is that mcf appears to be holding women responsible for not having done better in proposing and implementing a viable alternative to capitalism - which I think does a disservice to, among others, Marxist feminists - and also, looking back, his proposition contains the stumper:

I don't like the way women are portrayed in the media. I think the statistics on rape and catcalling are appalling.

But until women offer something that transcends those issues, I wonder if those issues themselves will ever be solved. Does that make sense?


That is, women are kind of responsible for their ongoing harassment and rape because they haven't got past trying to reduce harassment and rape and gotten to work on dismantling capitalism. Which, ow.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:17 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


He was basically saying that rape will never go away until women stop focusing on women's issues like...rape. The fact that people are comparing that to bell hooks is actually really amazing to me.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:56 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I... have to admit that I missed that bit first time around. I think I may have disqualified myself from ever being annoyed at someone for skimming something I wrote. Ever again. Even if it's a card with my allergies written on it.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:32 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


This actually is a perfect example of why anime fans shouldn't be allowed to vote.

Whoah whoah whoah. Hold the fuck on here. Your blanket characterisation of male anime fans, such as myself, is way over the line. I couldn't stand Gundam, I don't like magic girl anime (with the exception of Madoka, because it's actually a deconstruction of the genre), nor do I enjoy fanservice. My favorite female anime characters are smart, capable, flawed, complex characters who are in many instances central to the story and the series' engine.

I of course realise you do not actually want to remove the right to vote from professed fans of the medium, but your related points about what an anime fan is and how they view women as a result is deeply flawed. Anime doesn't make some of these dudes sexist creeps, any more than GTA:SA makes teenagers violent; they're sexist creeps for largely the same reasons any other sexist creep is a sexist creep.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:01 PM on May 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


That was a man saying that.

Congrats on clicking on my profile to figure that out. I really don't understand what you mean by it...but hey, small victories.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:07 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


He was basically saying that rape will never go away until women stop focusing on women's issues like...rape. The fact that people are comparing that to bell hooks is actually really amazing to me.

I wasn't saying that. Look, I'm not terribly well-read in feminist theory, but I do have a lot of radical feminist friends, and I was mostly articulating things that they'd said to me (and I'd agreed with) over the years.

I'd been content to let other people defend the argument I was making because they'd been doing it better than I would have, using cites of the original sources from which ultimately, no doubt, the ideas came (bell hooks, Ursula LeGuin, etc).

My point was not that women need to stop focusing on rape in order to focus on other things (why would they need to make that choice?), but that the condition of domination in which women find themselves, and which makes the culture of rape possible, is one they share with many other groups and which is not going to go away once these supposedly objective standards of material equality are met (if they're ever met).

Because I believe the source of those problems is structural, and it is inseparable from the values of a society that creates standards like "make as much money as men" or "sit on as many corporate boards as men" in the first place.

I also believe that a crisis is coming (perhaps is already here) where "right-wing feminists" are able to hijack the women's movement precisely because it has failed to address itself to precisely this situation.

To my mind, the solution to this problem is precisely not to stop working on issues that affect women uniquely, but to articulate a vision for the women's movement that transcends issues that affect women uniquely (again not a new idea, but I am advocating if anything that those efforts be intensified). In a way, I believe this is the greatest hope for our society in general right now, because, as Nineteen Percent points out, women are a majority in this country, and if women can find a way to lead this country, as a voting block, there is nothing that can stop them.

I really do believe that there could be a political party of women, for women, right now, that could be incredibly powerful.

Not because I want to reduce or essentialize women to some Victorian ideal - again, this is another double-bind that women face, where, on the one hand, they seem to have to abandon any notion of a feminine perspective to be treated with the respect any individual deserves or face the prospect of being stereotyped and marginalized for acknowledging that many many women do share commonalities of experience and values - but because I think those commonalities of experience and values could generate a political coalition that extends far beyond women alone.
posted by macross city flaneur at 6:22 PM on May 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: Not terribly well-read in feminist theory, but I do have a lot of radical feminist friends.

In all seriousness though:

I really do believe that there could be a political party of women, for women, right now, that could be incredibly powerful.

I agree...I'm sure MOST women agree. So how does one go about setting this up?
posted by hal_c_on at 6:37 PM on May 24, 2011


The lyrics are mostly nonsense, but I get the impression that she wouldn't have been happy (or as happy) with a proposal that didn't include a diamond ring. Perhaps my own bias is showing

Wasn't there another Beyonce/Destiny's Child lyric about buying your own diamonds and rings, 'always 50/50 in relationships'? OK, so quoting factory-written popstar lyrics as proof of ideology is rather like believing soap characters are in love with each other in real life, but there's always been a kind of mixed-up 'pay my bills'/'no, I pay my own bills' here.


Anyway, nice to see 'ho' and 'attention whore' popping up in a discussion about feminism again. Makes me nostalgic for stupid_free.
posted by mippy at 7:25 AM on May 25, 2011


Boy you know you love it
How we're smart enough to make these millions
Strong enough to bear the children
Then get back to business
posted by mrgrimm at 6:26 PM on May 24 [+] [!]


What point are you making - that not enough men give up work to look after the children? Or that women are all filthy rich so women's rights can just end right here, thank you very much?
posted by mippy at 7:30 AM on May 25, 2011


Mippy: OK, so quoting factory-written popstar lyrics as proof of ideology is rather like believing soap characters are in love with each other in real life, but there's always been a kind of mixed-up 'pay my bills'/'no, I pay my own bills' here.

Bear in mind that at no point does Beyoncé actually say in "Single Ladies" that she wants a diamond ring - mrgrimm imagined this, as he did the threat that if she didn't get one she was going to sleep around.

Here's what happens in "Single Ladies": Shortly before the action of the song, the perspective character's boyfriend has dumped her after three years. At the beginning of the song, the ex-boyfriend is annoyed that he has found her in a club dancing sexy with another man. She responds that if he was eager to be the only man she ever danced sexy with for the rest of her life, he should have proposed to her, rather than dumping her. She is now single, and is going to make her own decisions.

That's it. That's the whole narrative throughline.

The disquieting speculation in this thread about insatiable, fidelity-threatening sexual appetites and the need to sedate them with bling is assuming the existence of a life outside the text. it's "Single Ladies" fanfiction, effectively.

That said:

Wasn't there another Beyonce/Destiny's Child lyric about buying your own diamonds and rings, 'always 50/50 in relationships'?

That's Independent Woman, by Destiny's Child. Which is actually perfectly congruent - they want relationships based on equality. See also Bills, Bills, Bills - which might seem at first listen to be a request for the young man to pay her bills, but is actually about realising that one's partner is not a baller - a stand-up guy - but a scrub - a schlub1 - who is mooching off you. When they sing:

You pay my bills
Can you pay my telephone bills
Can you pay my automo'bills
Then maybe we can chill


What they mean is "can you pay the bills you have run up by using my cell phone and driving my car?", not "can you pay for me to use my phone and drive my car?".

If you want a "buy me stuff because you love me" song, they're out there, but "Single Ladies" isn't one of them - nor is it a "buy me stuff or I will cheat on you" song.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:41 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree...I'm sure MOST women agree. So how does one go about setting this up?

I think that's up to the women. Let's pick up the pace, chicas.

I'm sure MOST women agree.

And, to be depressingly honest, I'm not sure I agree with you there.

Bear in mind that at no point does Beyoncé actually say in "Single Ladies" that she wants a diamond ring - mrgrimm imagined this

Is it really such a stretch? I don't think she's sending an awful message to young women, but she seems to be walking the old party line. (IANABeyonceE)

Boy you know you love it
How we're smart enough to make these millions
Strong enough to bear the children
Then get back to business
posted by mrgrimm at 6:26 PM on May 24 [+] [!]

What point are you making - that not enough men give up work to look after the children? Or that women are all filthy rich so women's rights can just end right here, thank you very much?


"Boy you know you love it" - the whole thing seems to be an appeal for legitimacy to the male power structure ... which is granted to a handful of gorgeous women for a limited time only. Yes, men love women who make them children and money. That's been true for a while now.

We've had over half a century of strong, independent, extremely popular female musical artists. How many major female producers can you name? How many females own radio stations?

Again, these are not overtly awful contextual messages--just weak ones.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:17 AM on May 25, 2011


Is it really such a stretch?

To quote myself:

One of the interesting things in particular about responses to African American music is that the music is often assumed to be stronger than the personality of the creator or the listener - which is the basis of a lot of the panicked critiques of gangsta rap in the 90s.

So. This is what you said was the meaning of the song:

Buy me a diamond so I won't sleep with other men

Are you saying that Jay-Z got her this ring to try to bribe her not to sleep with other men? Because that would probably go from making some really weird statements about the rampant sexual appetite of the perspective character in "Single Ladies" to making some really weird statements about actual Beyoncé.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:07 AM on May 25, 2011


Are you saying that Jay-Z got her this ring to try to bribe her not to sleep with other men?

Jay-Z got her the ring and committed to marriage to ensure their exclusive sexual relationship, yes. That is one reason people get married, I think.

One of the interesting things in particular about responses to African American music is that the music is often assumed to be stronger than the personality of the creator or the listener

Can you explain this more? I literally do not understand what you are saying. I am critiquing Beyonce more for her weak-ass messages because she is black?

"the music is often assumed to be stronger than the personality of the creator or the listener"

Really, I'm having a lot of trouble parsing that. I have no idea.... I would agree that with music overall, the performer is more closely linked with her content (opposed to books or film or visual art), but I'm not sure where race comes in, i.e. didn't Marilyn Manson get as much flack in the 1990s as gangster rap did?
posted by mrgrimm at 1:23 PM on May 25, 2011


Can you explain this more? I literally do not understand what you are saying. I am critiquing Beyonce more for her weak-ass messages because she is black?

Well, let's not get into the race thing just now. Let's talk about the weak-ass message.

A real problem here is that you have managed to fail completely to understand what the narrative of "Single Ladies" actually describes, and thus the range of possible interpretations of the message. This is really pretty amazing, given that it is a very short and very self-contained narrative. There is some idiomatic language in it - such as "dip" and "trip" - but it's pretty easy to work out their meaning from context. Even pla manages to surmise what "dip" means, although he assigns it to the wrong subject so his interpretation is still, impressively, inaccurate.

At this point the odd thing is not that you are wrong - people are wrong on the Internet all the time - but that you are working so hard to stay wrong.

Here's the entire story being told by "Single Ladies", in barely fewer words than it contains:

Shortly before the action of the song, the perspective character's boyfriend has dumped her after three years of being together. At the beginning of the song, the ex-boyfriend is annoyed that he has found her in a club dancing sexy with another man. She responds that if he was eager to be the only man she ever danced sexy with for the rest of her life, he should have proposed to her, rather than dumping her. She is now single, and is going to make her own decisions.

Here, if that is still too confusing, is the message of "Single Ladies":

Single women have the right to dance with whomever they choose. Men do not get to control the actions of women they have dumped.

It's remarkable that you got from this very short, very simple vignette the message:

Buy me a diamond so I won't sleep with other men.

This is deeply weird. It is deeply weird because the story very clearly explains that the perspective character (the narrative voice, if you will) is not in a relationship with the man she is addressing. It is deeply weird because "if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it" is clearly in the past tense. It is deeply weird because there is absolutely no mention of diamonds.

Now, I don't know if it's weird because you believe that the lyrics are in some sort of code, or you have trouble understanding them, or the concept of a song as a closed-off dramatized narrative episode set to music. I have no idea. All I know is that you have made a hugely off-beam assessment of the action being described in the song, and then added some elements from your imagination. This may be because you believe that Beyoncé is in real life (to use your word) a ho or keen to advance a ho-friendly agenda, and are folding that belief back into your interpretation of the song. Again, I wouldn't want to speculate. The collapse of narrative and reality, however, is something we'll come back to.

So, that's the first thing - your interpretation is the equivalent of arguing that the soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 1 of Hamlet is about illicit sexual affairs between robots and humans on a mining colony on Titan. The text does not support it. This causes problems.

Now, when one of these problems - that diamonds do not feature in the narrative - is highlighted, your response is to link to a story about actual Beyoncé getting a wedding ring from Jay-Z.

(Incidentally, this whole thing you have going about how women will have sex with other men unless persuaded not to with a suitably expensive ring is messed up - but it's really too messed up to go into here.)

So, we've got a jump here. In defence of your idiosyncratic interpretation of a song, you are bringing in the biography of the singer.

On which note, let's briefly address Marilyn Manson. Marilyn Manson occasioned a brief moral panic, but not actually because of his songs, but because of his public utterances, appearance and lifestyle. When he sang:

My arms are wheels, my legs are wheels, my blood is pavement

Nobody, or at least nobody sane, thought "Dang me, his arms and legs are wheels. He has the power to turn himself into a monster truck. What if he runs down our children?".

Or, alternatively, let's look at Kurt Cobain. I don't know if you remember Nirvana, but they had a song called "Polly". It tells a story, in the first person, about the abduction of a woman. Nobody - or at least nobody sane - responded to listening to Nevermind by calling the police and demanding the arrest of Kurt Cobain for kidnapping.

None of this is revolutionary. I'm surprised it needs to be mentioned. Many song lyrics depict narrative episodes more or less allusively. These are not necessarily direct, one-to-one transcriptions of the singer's life.

So, part of the moral panic around gangsta rap involved the collapse of the distinction between perspective character and performer. Spin magazine expected bell hooks and Ice Cube to have an incendiary argument because Ice Cube was a crazy motherfucker - further, when he was called off, he got a sawed-off, squeezed the trigger and bodies were hauled off. According to hooks' account, at least, the editors had confused the perspective character of the song "Straight Outta Compton" with the person performing the song. The rappers themselves were often complicit in this blurring of the line, both ironically and unironically.

In that case, at least, the perspective character was also called "Ice Cube". "Single Ladies" at no point names Beyoncé as the person within the narrative, rather than the person singing the song. Further confusing the issue, "Single Ladies" is taken from the album I am... Sasha Fierce, the overarching concept of which is that Beyoncé has an alter ego... called Sasha Fierce.

Elephants all the way down.

However, what we do know is that you are now implying, based on and in defence of a fundamentally unsupportable reading of the text of "Single Ladies", that Beyoncé in real life threatened Jay-Z with the possibly of sexual infidelity until he gave her a diamond ring. This goes from writing shared-world fanfiction set in the world of "Single Ladies", a song performed by the artist Beyoncé, to writing fanfiction about the life of Beyoncé Knowles, the person.

Maybe part of this spiralling oddness is related to issues around race, maybe around gender, maybe around marriage or the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Maybe it's just about reading comprehension and the distinction between narrative performance and real life. Maybe it's about not knowing when to acknowledge the flaws of one's original analysis. I have no idea. I never expected to spend this much time on the incredibly simple narrative of "Single Ladies". However, you asked me to explain, and I figured it would need a fair bit of walking through.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:01 PM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


running order squabble fest : Shortly before the action of the song

Aaaand, there you have the flaw in criticizing us for a different interpretation than your own.

Care to guess how many times I've seen that video? Granted, you can fairly call that my own fault, what with not even having a TV (or more accurately, no cable/satellite/anything broadcast in range); But I also haven't read the liner notes that might explain it, haven't seen the interview with Oprah where she explains it, or played the song backward to hear the subliminal explanation of the idiomatic language used in the song.


At the beginning of the song, the ex-boyfriend is annoyed that he has found her in a club dancing sexy with another man.

So, starting at the start of the song, how can you tell which of them dumped the other?

I'll grant that the new information you've provided disproves my hypothesis; But to call me "still, impressively, inaccurate"? No need for that crap.


I won't comment on the rest of your post because it all falls apart without the presumption that we bastard misogynists deliberately ignored the video lead-in. If you consider the song from the POV that she dumped him (now proven wrong, thanks, but you can't damn us with hindsight), the far less charitable "bribe me not to sleep around" interpretation makes perfect sense.
posted by pla at 5:35 PM on May 25, 2011


pla, I think you misunderstand running order. You can tell what happened in the song just by paying attention to the lyrics. The Single Ladies video actually has nothing at all to do with the narrative; the video is a tribute to Gwen Verdon amongst other things.

No, a person should be able to tell that the character in the song has recently broken up based on the lyrics.

What I find especially confusing about mrgrimm's materialistic interpretation of Single Ladies is the fact that the lyrics directly oppose it. She sings:

Don't treat me to the things of the world
I'm not that kind of girl
Your love is what I prefer, what I deserve


These lyrics are right there in the bridge. So while there is nothing in the song to indicate she's mad she didn't get a diamond and is just an attention-whore golddigger (which is so opposite to every single Beyonce song ever), the lyrics explicitly say she does not care about "the things of the world", she just wanted him to prove his love through commitment. And even so, she did not dump him, he "dipped".

So, starting at the start of the song, how can you tell which of them dumped the other?

By the lyrics. "You decided to dip and now you wanna trip cause another brother noticed me"

The song is actually very straightforward and I am slightly intrigued as to the misunderstandings. Beyonce has always come across to me as a nice, cool, positive, and creative person. I get that her music is really not for everyone and it is often not even for me but I don't get the character attacks or reading the lyrics exactly the opposite of what they say.
posted by Danila at 6:15 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, I really don't get "bribe me not to sleep with other men" regardless of who decided to dip (although I should reiterate that he is the one who left). She's talking about getting a wedding ring. She's not threatening to cheat, she didn't cheat, the first verse she says "just broke up". So, he didn't want to take that step of marriage, they broke up (regardless of who instigated the breakup, they both have the right to go for what they want), and now he is jealous to see her dancing sexy and looking fine with someone else.

They probably dated for a while if they were to the point of marriage-talk, so I can understand his jealousy but she is right that he has a whole lot of nerve. If you interpret her actions as cheating then you're just as bad as him. They are not together because they didn't want the same things. By acting as if he owns her even though he won't commit to her, he is majorly disrespecting her and that's exactly what she won't put up with anymore.

I get the feeling you are anti-marriage, pla, and in that case the song would never be positive to you. But cheating has nothing to do with it.
posted by Danila at 6:22 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I won't comment on the rest of your post because it all falls apart without the presumption that we bastard misogynists deliberately ignored the video lead-in.

Exactly what Danila said. What I said was:

Shortly before the action of the song, the perspective character's boyfriend has dumped her after three years.

You've made up this weird theory about a "video lead-in". Nothing I said suggests any such thing. Let's actually look at the song. Here's the video of Single Ladies, if you want to listen along. No TV required.

First line of the first verse:

Up in the club, we just broke up

The narrator sets the scene - the narrator and the man she is addressing are in a club, having recently broken up - the action of the song then continues.

Second and third lines of the first verse

You decided to dip , and now you wanna trip:
Another brother noticed me


You have to hang on to the second verse to know that their relationship lasted three years, but it's not exactly flashed up in Coptic for one frame of the video. She says it.

If you consider the song from the POV that she dumped him (now proven wrong, thanks, but you can't damn us with hindsight), the far less charitable "bribe me not to sleep around" interpretation makes perfect sense.

No, it still doesn't make any sense - unless (and this is important) you believe that proposing to somebody is exactly the same as bribing them not to sleep around. It doesn't matter who ended the relationship, frankly. The message (as I genuinely didn't think I could have explained more slowly and carefully) is that after a relationship has ended the ex-partners no longer have a claim on each other's sexual attention.

Even if you do believe that proposing to someone is the same as bribing them not to sleep around, it still doesn't make sense. It doesn't make any sense because breaking up with someone and then demanding a ring in order not to sleep around is not how humans do breaking up. It does not make sense because, as I said, the chorus about the ring is clearly in the past tense - "If you liked it, you should have put a ring on it". It doesn't make sense because you can't cheat on an ex. I suspect it does not make sense because I have not drunk enough cough syrup.

It's odd that you think I've called you a "bastard misogynist". As far as I can tell, you're a radical gender separatist. You appear to think that heterosexual relationships are miserable affairs in which the participants have to be bribed not to sleep around, and you describe the wedding ring as material "proof" of his subservience to institutionalized bondage. That sounds to me like a radical feminist critique of marriage, except with the genders swapped. That's why I said:

I genuinely can't work out now whether you guys genuinely despise the institutions and traditions of marriage, seeing it as at best a desperate attempt to control women's ravening sexual appetites and at worst a form of institutional slavery, or whether you have some sort of psychic ability to gauge the interior sluttiness of characters in songs.

Right now, you'd have to work hard on your position to get it coherent enough to be identifiable as misogynist - it's totally unclear whether the target of your anger is Beyoncé, Sasha Fierce, women in general, humanity or the institution of marriage as a whole.

I genuinely didn't think that a song the most common word in which is "oh" would be such a stumper.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:25 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Danila: What I find especially confusing about mrgrimm's materialistic interpretation of Single Ladies is the fact that the lyrics directly oppose it. She sings:

Don't treat me to the things of the world
I'm not that kind of girl
Your love is what I prefer, what I deserve


I think the answer to that is that we can tell that Beyoncé in the song is demanding a diamond in order not to sleep around because Beyoncé in the real world got a diamond ring from Jay-Z in exchange for sexual fidelity. And you can tell that it's in exchange for sexual fidelity because in the song she is demanding a diamond in order not to sleep around. The fact that she isn't demanding a diamond in the song in order not to sleep around isn't relevant, because she clearly is, because Beyoncé in the real world got a diamond ring from Jay-Z...

This is sort of what I imagine would happen if the script for Inception had been sent to the creative team behind Axe Cop for a polish before filming.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:39 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


running order squabble fest: PREACH
posted by coaster at 7:09 PM on May 25, 2011


running order squabble fest : unless (and this is important) you believe that proposing to somebody is exactly the same as bribing them not to sleep around.

First, good response. I still don't agree that the song itself makes the dumper and dumpee entirely clear, but we can move beyond that for now.

So to respond to you (and others who have found my stance on engagement/marriage somewhat odd) - Yes, I consider it nothing more than a legal and religious means of binding another living human to you. I find it outright laughable to hear the religious right defend it as some sacred institution, when we only have it in the first place to secure inheritance lines. Even the whole idea of "romantic" marriage (as the norm) only came into existence since the advent of ubiquitous automobiles.

That said, if people want to get married, good for them... At least modern society has made it easy to undo so great an eternal spiritual bond (which over half of people will).


It's odd that you think I've called you a "bastard misogynist". As far as I can tell, you're a radical gender separatist.

Sorry, I'll take the hit on that one. A bit of hyperbole.


it's totally unclear whether the target of your anger

No anger here... Just a lighthearted discussion of cheesy pop song lyrics going on. :)
posted by pla at 3:35 AM on May 26, 2011


pla: I still don't agree that the song itself makes the dumper and dumpee entirely clear, but we can move beyond that for now.

a) The dumper/dumpee dichotomy doesn't really matter, for the reasons already stated. The idea that her having dumped him means that during the song she is demanding a bribe from the man she dumped under threat of sleeping with other men remains a ludicrous idea. This is not how humans interact. The only way it really makes a difference is if you believe that dumping men (rather than being dumped by men) somehow makes women insane - so insane that they attempt to extort gifts from their exes with the threat of becoming sexually active again post-breakup. Which would be weird.

b) Unless you can argue that Beyoncé doesn't sing "You decided to dip", or that "dip" does not mean "depart", the song actually makes it fairly clear. Given that your last rebuttal depended on not apparently having listened to the first line of the song, I'll leave my breath unbated for now, if that's OK. The "you" is a bit swallowed in the single edit, but if you watch the video you can see her mouth move as she says it, and it's clearer in other mixes, as already discussed.

Yes, I consider it nothing more than a legal and religious means of binding another living human to you.

At the risk of sounding unnecessarily light-hearted - well, duh. That's what marriage is. What you actually said, though, was that a ring (which you understood to mean engagement or wedding, I assume) was:

material "proof" of his subservience to institutionalized bondage

If by "subservience to institutionalized bondage" you mean "marital status/intention to get married", then that's kind of melodramatic, but fair enough. I also have no idea why "proof" is in quotes there, but hey. The question remains: do you believe that the only possible function of marriage is to "bribe [women] not to sleep around" by submitting to mutual bondage (not in a sexy way, AFAICT)? That is, as I said:

I genuinely can't work out now whether you guys genuinely despise the institutions and traditions of marriage, seeing it as at best a desperate attempt to control women's ravening sexual appetites and at worst a form of institutional slavery, or whether you have some sort of psychic ability to gauge the interior sluttiness of characters in songs.

The least controversial contrarian view of marriage ever (that it isn't necessarily either a sacrament sanctioned by God or like a Disney wedding every time) doesn't answer that question. "The religious and legal binding of another human being to you" ≠ "slutproofing through bribery".
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:12 AM on May 26, 2011


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