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More than just his little wife
March 21, 2013 8:04 PM   Subscribe

People have something to say about Mrs. Carter's new song. "Women do not have to be humble, nice, and modest all the damn time," says Sesali Bowen of Feministing. "Beyonce's new single marks a change in direction for the independent woman the US president handpicks to play at his parties," says Rush Limbaugh. The song "dangerously [straddles] the line between female empowerment and subjugation," says Rahiel Tesfamariam of the Washington Post. "We should view Beyonce's feminism as complex," says Akoto Ofori-Atta of The Root. Can a woman who sings "girls run the world" and "bow down, bitches" be a feminist? Read the lyrics here.
posted by girlmightlive (72 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
personally i think the single most important fact about beyonce is not that she is a feminist, but that she is a millionaire.
posted by facetious at 8:15 PM on March 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


The lyrics sound a lot like a whole bunch of fairly generic rap songs by men, in which they assert their own superiority over everyone else in the world, and nobody's ever called those songs "anti-man" or anything, to the best of my knowledge.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:26 PM on March 21, 2013 [50 favorites]


that plate sure full o beans
posted by spicynuts at 8:28 PM on March 21, 2013 [14 favorites]


Niki Minaj is a bad influence!
posted by Brocktoon at 8:29 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, if there's anyone's opinion on feminism I trust, it's Rush Limbaugh's.
posted by Apropos of Something at 8:32 PM on March 21, 2013 [60 favorites]


Mmm, controversy! And just in time to buy the single!
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:37 PM on March 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


The moral panic surrounding music reminds me of the 1980's, the debate about feminist credentials reminds me of the early 1990's.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:38 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


The lyrics sound a lot like a whole bunch of fairly generic rap songs by men, in which they assert their own superiority over everyone else in the world, and nobody's ever called those songs "anti-man" or anything, to the best of my knowledge.

Exactly what I was thinking.

I think all this bean-plating comes because Beyonce is a woman-turned-draq-queen who is the living embodiment of all that is fierce and fabulous and is as irresistible as a black hole filled with glitter. If you are someone who thinks of yourself as only liking things that are deep and intellectual the immediate attraction is probably scary and confusing, especially if you don't like her music and are finding yourself loving her anyway, so you have to attach a bunch of meanings to what she is doing when really all she is doing is being TOTALLY FIERCE.

I both love and fear the idea of her and RuPaul getting together. I think it would create a singularity of fierceness that would destroy the universe.
posted by schroedinger at 8:42 PM on March 21, 2013 [28 favorites]


I mean, guys, Single Ladies, if you are trying to think about the lyrics and not dancing to it in a gay club you are doing fun wrong.
posted by schroedinger at 8:44 PM on March 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think we also need to discuss whether Johnny Cash promoted gun violence in Reno.
posted by jcreigh at 8:46 PM on March 21, 2013 [36 favorites]


Man, I respect Beyonce but those lyrics are horrendous.
posted by saul wright at 8:55 PM on March 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can a woman who sings "girls run the world" and "bow down, bitches" be a feminist?

Yes, feminism is a big tent.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:14 PM on March 21, 2013 [20 favorites]


Was Beyonce really in a Willie D video when she was 14? That's kinda funny at least.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:17 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Clutch online magazine thinks she's feeding the trolls.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:22 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I actually enjoy how terrified some men are of Beyonce. I remember when she played the Super Bowl with her all-girl band and dancers some guys were freaking out at the sheer feminine awesomeness on display.

I enjoy the Illuminati conspiracy theories, but honestly, one of the most media savvy people in the world married to another one of the most media savvy people in the world? She knows exactly what she's doing.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:39 PM on March 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


I think, at least in some circles, the words "bitch" and "trick" can be male- or female- or non-gendered, and empowering, derogatory, or both simultaneously. So, at least in the context of this song, it's hard to argue that Beyonce's use of either term is "anti-feminist" or an attack on women. I would argue almost the opposite.

But then again, especially among the (probably large) segment of Beyonce's audience who never listen to rap, these words don't have meaning beyond "derogatory reference to women," so this reaction is pretty understandable.

This song is pretty good, though.
posted by MetalFingerz at 9:40 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, if there's anyone's opinion on feminism I trust, it's Rush Limbaugh's.

Also, rap music!
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:40 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The lyrics sound a lot like a whole bunch of fairly generic rap songs by men, in which they assert their own superiority over everyone else in the world, and nobody's ever called those songs "anti-man" or anything, to the best of my knowledge.

Bingo. Most of this track is in fact rapped (well...sort of), pitched down to a deep male register (wink wink). It appears to be just a very brief diss track to some specific (though unnamed) women back in Houston. I mean, heck, the name comes from a Westside Connection diss album! (Take that, Cypress Hill!)

Mostly it just sounds like a fun little studio goof-off that they spent all of five minutes working on. There's really not a whole lot there to warrant such overanalysis.

And, I mean, Beyonce using that word--if that's what's being objected to--surely can't be any worse than Jay-Z saying that other word, right? 'Cause, like, that's a thing that happens. It basically comes down to all the same old arguments viz ownership of words. (Personally, I'm in the "you can, but you shouldn't" camp, though being male and white my opinion wrt those particular words doesn't and shouldn't count for shit.)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:41 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is it bad that I'm mostly just interested in the the song production? 'Cuz that track is pretty wild. Some next-level shit going on, there. I'm agog over here.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:43 PM on March 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Seriously I'm on my fifth listen
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:44 PM on March 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


U N I T Y
posted by klangklangston at 10:02 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Art of the code switch.

Read an article recently discussing how Around the time of Sign Of The Times, Prince was worried about losing touch with his core Black audience due to his overwhelming mainstream pop success. Songs like the funk workout Housequake, and The straight up R&B croonfest Adore were his nods to that audience that he could still make songs just for them.

I'm not surprised considering the huge mainstream year Beyonce has been having. (Inauguration, Superbowl..I mean, damn) She would throw a little something out there to let the streets know she's still a homegirl from H-Town.

As it says in one of the linked articles, It's all about context. And it's always slightly disingenuous to strip something completelty of ity's context, and examine in a way it obviously wasn't intended. This happens so much with hip hop that it's hard to even take this form of criticism as much more than a silly joke. It says so much more about the critic that it does about the artwork in question.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:13 PM on March 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


But then again, especially among the (probably large) segment of Beyonce's audience who never listen to rap, these words don't have meaning beyond "derogatory reference to women," so this reaction is pretty understandable

You are not familiar with Michael K I take it?
posted by fshgrl at 10:24 PM on March 21, 2013


Doleful Creature:Is it bad that I'm mostly just interested in the the song production? 'Cuz that track is pretty wild. Some next-level shit going on, there. I'm agog over here.

Hadn't heard the track yet, but as soon as I read that comment I went "I bet it's a Hit-Boy track, isn't it?" and sure enough it is.

He's made a lot of hot singles recently and he's damned good. He's probably going to be the standard for what R&B and Rap production sounds like this decade.
posted by C^3 at 10:42 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Having listened to the track, I really like it. It's a tribute to Houston rap circa about 1997-8. If names like Lil Troy or Point Blank mean anything to you, you'll like it too probably. It's way different than her normal sound, I'm not really a fan usually.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:45 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I actually enjoy how terrified some men are of Beyonce. I remember when she played the Super Bowl with her all-girl band and dancers some guys were freaking out at the sheer feminine awesomeness on display

This is surreal to me. I don't know of any men who are terrified of Beyonce, and all the Superbowl hype I heard was basically that, whether you liked her music or not, she could be expected to put on a good show.
posted by misha at 10:49 PM on March 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


says Rush Limbaugh

Oxycontin + Viagra is a hell of a drug.
posted by homunculus at 11:03 PM on March 21, 2013


well, looking at some of these complaints, some people certainly seem scared of her and her thrusting pelvis.
posted by nadawi at 11:05 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


You are not familiar with Michael K I take it?

I am not, but in hindsight, yeah, plenty of people who don't listen to rap use "bitch" in ways that aren't derogatory.
posted by MetalFingerz at 11:09 PM on March 21, 2013


I read those lyrics immediately as being aimed at the self-professed bitches - the queen bees, the mean-girl snipes. There are women out there in the world who cut down another women who they think are out of line, to put another girl back in her place.

The lines "I knew you when you were a little girl" puts me in mind of the sort of primary school politics that are way more gendered than you think - the girly girls who perform acceptable femininity are the ones at the top of the food chain, more often than not. Assertive little girls, tomboys, ambitious girls, are often the ones villified.

So when she gets to "Don't think I'm his little wife, don't get twisted" it's an assertion that those little girls have been beaten, not at their own game but in something way, way out of their league.

So I think you could comfortably read this as being aimed at women, yes, but at the boundary maintainers, the tskers and tutters. The women who lost their shit when she named her tour the Mrs Carter World Tour.

/has a degree in this sort of bean-platery.
posted by Jilder at 11:14 PM on March 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


Ugh, those complaints are absurd, nadawi, but still most of them seem to come from women, not men, and are the same scale as the fallout when Justin Timberlake dry-humped Janet Jackson and tore off her shirt several years back. Apparently many American football fans have a Victorian sense of propriety when it comes to half-time entertainment.

I disagree with the clutch-the-pearls hyperbole, of course, but the complaints have a lot more to do with the revealing costumes and sexually suggestive dance moves than anyone, men or women, being terrified of Beyonce's powerful feminist agenda.
posted by misha at 11:29 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


That first complaint is also genius:
This was after the Superbowl when the commercial showed a woman kissing a nerd. It was disgusting!!
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:38 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


You go to work, it sucks. You do it cause you have to, because we all must Go To Work. But while at work you have that thing that keeps you going, that shining light at the end of the tunnel. Your child, your wife, your husband, your love. You work so that you can go home, see your kid or whatever, and just love the shit out of them.

I don't have kids or an other. But I do have Bow Down. Today, for me, this song was what kept me going. Every time I thought 'Fuck it I hate this' I remembered that, once i got home, I'd be able to listen to Bow Down once again.

This song is so fucking tight. Like, 'what the fuck, how does this even exist' tight.

and why isn't anyone talking about the gender bending vocal pitched second part? Are people that fucking hung up on the B word that they completely overlook the fact that BEYONCE THE BIGGEST POP STAR EVER is waving a big dick around like a middle finger to the gender norms?
posted by special agent conrad uno at 11:48 PM on March 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


It's a fucking pop song. She's a pop singer.

America never learns. Like Charlie Fucking Brown with a football.
posted by spitbull at 1:56 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pretty weak lyrics; it just goes to show that men are better at misogyny than women.
posted by Renoroc at 3:10 AM on March 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Stand by your man.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:53 AM on March 22, 2013


If they thing "Put A Ring On It" - a rallying cry to tell a guy he should have married her - is empowerment, then I'd love to hear what they think Independent Woman is. I mean, she says she doesn't need a man in the first place.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:07 AM on March 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't miss the link at the bottom of the Feministing piece to a possibly-overthought-but-that's-fine-by-me dissection of the song at Red Clay Scholar, which places it in the context of the ongoing debate about black women and "ratchetness" - including Michaela Angela Davis' recent "Bury the Ratchet" campaign and this "Exhuming the Ratchet before it's Buried" response. Seeing it as Beyoncé negotiating that constantly sliding scale of respectability defined at one end by the stereotypical "materialistic, loud, aggressive Black woman" featured regularly on reality TV shows might be more useful than dropping it into a simplistic "is this feminist or not?" dichotomy.

It also makes the lyrics a little more interesting, e.g., claiming "the allusion to 'dripping candy' on the ground" is a reference to "the prominent car culture ('candy paint') associated with Houston (hip hop) culture."
posted by mediareport at 5:00 AM on March 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry I even clicked on the Limbaugh link. About once a year or so I make the mistake of actually paying attention to him for 30 seconds, expecting some kind of point other than his usual point: it's about himself.
posted by surplus at 5:34 AM on March 22, 2013


Going forward, if we're to include a quote from Rush Limbaugh, could we maybe switch from "'...,' Says Rush Limbaugh" to "Rush Limbaugh said,'...'"

I'd rather know up front that I can disregard what I'm about to read.
posted by VTX at 5:49 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The song's not doing a whole lot for me – I guess I truly the void where fierceness goes to die, because even the production sounds kind of bleh. Maybe my ears broke, I dunno. But this should not be as controversial as it is. It's tame as hell. Probably would've even been just as take ten years ago. Is this just because women again? Because dammit Rush we've told you about women before.

The lowered-voice rap bit, by the way, reminds me of Laurie Anderson's Bergamot voice, and any time the mainstream sounds a little bit like Laurie Anderson it's okay as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:08 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


personally i think the single most important fact about beyonce is not that she is a feminist, but that she is a millionaire.

Most significantly, she's half of a power duo that has achieved peak blandness on the one hand in building a following among the Applebees set and peak crassness on the other hand in wearing out the media-saturation welcome of a person too young to walk.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:16 AM on March 22, 2013


My favorite subversive feminist song in this genre (taking over traditionally male tropes) is Ride. Nothing like watching Ciara roll her eyes and interrupt Luda as she towers over him in every frame.
posted by prefpara at 6:31 AM on March 22, 2013


Fuck the lyrics, that production just straight out levelled up mainstream pop.
posted by unSane at 6:47 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or what Doleful Creature said.
posted by unSane at 6:49 AM on March 22, 2013


So wait, we're in a tizzy about this song because the same troll who called Sandra Fluke a slut says it's controversial?

Metafilter, I am disappoint.
posted by dry white toast at 6:50 AM on March 22, 2013


Personally, I'm a bit fascinated by Beyonce. As much as I pretend I'm uninterested in her, I still listen to her music and like to read commentary about her. I am an unabashed and unapologetic pop music fan and I think it's as worthy of commentary and analysis as rock, rap and punk music.

There just aren't too many black women mainstream America takes seriously.

I'm intrigued by Beyonce because she's displayed as a not-too-bright, feed-the-troll entertainer who knows exactly what she's doing while building a multimillion dollar empire.

I'm also interested in the idea that she's popular because of the "Applebees" set. That's extremely arguable.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:05 AM on March 22, 2013


dry white toast, the Limbaugh thing is a distraction at best; there's a real conversation happening among feminist women about the song, links to which were included in the post.
posted by mediareport at 7:18 AM on March 22, 2013


If they thing "Put A Ring On It" - a rallying cry to tell a guy he should have married her - is empowerment, then I'd love to hear what they think Independent Woman is. I mean, she says she doesn't need a man in the first place.

What? "Put a Ring On It", just like "You Don't Own Me," is the woman defining the terms of her own life. That's empowerment.

Just because a woman would dare to suggest the very idea of even being in a committed relationship with a man does not mean she's anti-feminist. Not everything has to pass the Bechdel test.

/mansplain
posted by Sys Rq at 8:27 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Put a Ring On It", just like "You Don't Own Me," is the woman defining the terms of her own life. That's empowerment.

No, it's the woman defining the terms of one aspect of her life; it's singly and solely about relationships. It's singly and solely about "you're either married to me or you're not". "Independent Woman", on the other hand, is about "I'm doing stuff for myself so my relationship isn't the be-all and end-all."

Lemme put it another way - "Put A Ring On It" is telling the guy he should have bought her a ring. "Independent Woman" is boasting "I bought myself my own damn ring, I don't need a guy to do it for me." (It's actually right there in the lyrics - "The rock I'm wearing, I bought it - I depend on me".)

You're right that the woman in "Single Ladies" is speaking up for herself, but she's only speaking up for herself about one thing. "Independent Woman" is much more empowering.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:39 AM on March 22, 2013


Well, sure. I'm not saying it's the be-all and end-all of female empowerment, but then, I don't think anyone else is either.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:43 AM on March 22, 2013


Why not just put them together? "I don't need to be in a relationship at all so if you wanted to be with me, you should have committed to me when you had the chance."
posted by VTX at 8:48 AM on March 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm not saying it's the be-all and end-all of female empowerment, but then, I don't think anyone else is either.

I got the impression that Rush Limbaugh was.

Also, I wasn't saying it wasn't at all, only that it was less so than "Independent Woman," and I just thought it funny that Rush was holding that up as "the big empowerment anthem" when a much bigger one was over in the corner.

Why not just put them together? "I don't need to be in a relationship at all so if you wanted to be with me, you should have committed to me when you had the chance."

I agree. Maybe Rush only knows top 40 radio.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:52 AM on March 22, 2013


Oh. Rush Limbaugh. Yeah, okay, I get your meaning now. Quite right.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:01 AM on March 22, 2013


The biggest Facebook freakout fight on my FB wall, ever, came when I posted this photo of a GIANT BEYONCE BILLBOARD in Times Square a month ago and said "no offense, America, but I think we've hit peak Beyonce and it's time to ease up." A movie about Beyonce, starring Beyonce, directed by Beyonce...

(Seriously, after reading that New Yorker article that examined in no small amount of detail the MASSIVE amount of data she's generating by recording her every move, ever, and maintaining a storage facility the Smithsonian would covet for it... dude. I give up. UGH. PEAK BEYONCE).

Posting that photo to FB effectively caused a giant civil war to break out among various friend-factions. "You're a hater!" "Yup, too much Beyonce. Enough already" seemed to be the main two positions.

This is nothing but a manufactured controversy designed to keep us at Peak Beyonce and keep her in the headlines (fill that data center UP!) even longer. I'll pass.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:01 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lemme put it another way - "Put A Ring On It" is telling the guy he should have bought her a ring.

I would respectfully suggest that that's not quite the emphasis of the song. "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" is not saying explicitly that Beyonce wanted the guy to buy her a ring, as a metonym for getting engaged/married.

What it is saying is "You do not get to act up if you see me dancing sexy with another man in a nightclub, because we are no longer together." The ring part is a hypothetical - if her ex had been serious about the relationship, he had optons for showing it which he did not exercise at the time, and cannot now behave as if he has any claim over her.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:18 AM on March 22, 2013 [19 favorites]


That still makes the relationship itself the core of the song, rather than the woman's own independence.

And anyway, it is not that I love "Single Ladies" less, but that I love "Independent Woman" more.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:23 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


That still makes the relationship itself the core of the song, rather than the woman's own independence.

And frames the relationship in terms of monetary investment by him. It seems to negate any other expression of commitment on the man's part, and utterly absolves her of showing any commitment barring his buying her bling.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:30 AM on March 22, 2013


guys, we've done the single lady argument before. if you want to listen to the song and think she's saying if you buy her a big enough rock you can own her, that's your right - but i'm gonna think you're silly. the ring is a symbol of commitment.
posted by nadawi at 9:47 AM on March 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


And frames the relationship in terms of monetary investment by him. It seems to negate any other expression of commitment on the man's part, and utterly absolves her of showing any commitment barring his buying her bling.

Dude, you did exactly this here, where you called Beyonce a "ho-in-empowerment-clothing".

It's weird.

First, it's weird because "bling" is a weird word to use here. If Beyonce were Native American, it would ring alarm bells if you said she was demanding "wampum". This is exactly the same linguistic device.

Second, it's weird because you appear to have forgotten again how relationships work in the United States. "Put a ring on it" doesn't just mean "buy me a ring". Putting a ring on a woman's finger is an act, and a phrase, with a culturally determined meaning.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:50 AM on March 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


(Also, of course, it's weird because in the first line of the song it is explained that Beyonce is talking to her ex, and in the chorus is using the subjunctive in a conditional perfect construction. If someone is asking their ex for jewellery in exchange for not dancing with any other men after they have broken up, I think that couple's romantic life is significantly further from the median than the character in the narrative of "Single Ladies". Certainly, it is not happening in the narrative of "single ladies".)
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:01 AM on March 22, 2013


Okay, feeling kind of sorry I said anything now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:12 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


What a dull and ugly song — "music" and lyrics.
posted by papercake at 11:49 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks grandpa!
posted by shakespeherian at 12:05 PM on March 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I like the song, but more importantly, I like that Beyonce is taking a creative risk. The problem is that no matter what she does, commentary about her is like a whack-a-mole game with new, often contradictory reasons to criticize her constantly popping up.

Early in her career, she was known for being incredibly polite, poised, and private; for many years she wouldn't even confirm that she and Jay-Z were married. She was criticized then for being too remote from her public and monomaniacally ambitious.

After her big social media push on Tumblr and Instagram last year and her documentary, all of which opened up her life to her fans to an incredible degree, she was criticized for being too "perfect" and presenting a highly stage-managed version of her life instead of being "real." Never mind that during this time she's also been talking about her miscarriage and having to fire her father as her manager.

Now she releases a song that's pretty far out of the mainstream and harkens back to her roots in Houston. I'm not saying there's not a sales strategy to this single, but consider that she closed the Super Bowl with "Halo" and then chose a chopped and screwed brag rap with obscure references running over a Texas trill beat as the first single off her new album. It seems like a big risk to me for an artist at her level.

So now she's being a little too boastful and immodest and a bad representative for feminism. I guess she got too "real." Also keep in mind that this little survey course in Beyonce Studies doesn't even begin to cover the criticism she's received for not behaving "black enough." I wonder what those folks think about this single? (Spoiler alert: I don't really care.)

TL;DR: Haters to the left.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 12:32 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


among her stans there was also shade thrown her way over the album 4 - people saying it was too artsy or too derivative or whatever. run the world is my least favorite track on the album (and seemed tacked on for the single) but otherwise it's really solid and interesting to me. and of course there's always fights about songs like dance for you, especially when people want to paint her as feminist/anti-feminist.

and i know there's some actual critique to be made about how much of it is her - she seems to have the most vocal detractors saying that working with her means handing over a songwriting credit even though she didn't contribute a line (although i'm not sure if that's a charge that's been levied since she fired her dad). but that seems pretty standard in her part of the industry to varying degrees and no one has put together quite the package that beyonce has, and has kept it as interesting.
posted by nadawi at 1:08 PM on March 22, 2013


While I get people having an unqualified reaction to the word "bitch", her usage of it here seems about as pragmatically tame as the word gets. When she says "bow down, bitches", I don't think of "bitches" as referring to specific individuals-- it's sort of like saying "bow down, y'all". It's an exclamation. If you get your paycheck and yell, "I'm getting pizza tonight, bitches!", you're not calling specific people out as such.

(As for the song itself, consider me nonplussed. It sounds like something Beyoncé found in Lil Wayne's recycling bin from 2007.)
posted by threeants at 1:52 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have paid no attention to Beyonce one way or the other, and I would pay no attention to Rush Limbaugh if people didn't keep reporting on his trolling.

But I have to say, this is approximately the tenth "is this woman allowed to be feminist when she _______________?" sort of thing I have seen in the past two weeks and it's getting pretty tiresome.
posted by Foosnark at 2:06 PM on March 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Small aside, but mediareport, thanks for that fantastic collection of links.
posted by Phire at 3:57 PM on March 22, 2013


It is so fucking weird to me that people think Single Ladies is anti-empowerment. I think staying in a relationship with a controlling dingus who wants you to play by his rules but never commit to a relationship when what you want is a committed relationship is obviously anti-empowerment. Independent ladies are great, but independent ladies also like companionship. I also just can't (don't want to) get het up about the Mrs. Carter tour-- Jay-Z can brag about having the baddest woman in the game and about impressing rich girls (in Otis), and I think Beyonce calling herself Mrs. Carter reads on the same level tbh. It's strange to me actually that I read it as "I married fucking Jay-Z, I'm amazing" and not "I married this successful guy, tee hee," but there's already such a taboo for successful women in admitting they want a relationship with someone great-- as if somehow the greatness of your husband detracts from your greatness, or makes you weak and like a giggling girl in a NYTimes article about how special you are for being a SAHM. It's like finally some balance between the idea that women do not need to derive their self-esteem from their men, and also that having a great man doesn't mean he's the alpha and you're shyly submitting in your feminine ways and giving up all that manly career stuff and finally finding your place. She's Mrs. Carter, she attracts greatness because she's also great and what makes her great isn't her submission and understanding of the "mysteries" of men, it's just that she's fucking great.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:56 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also seeing the "ring" in Single Ladies as being very specifically a big sparkling beautiful ring is pure projection of the "women only want a big diamond!" variety. It's clearly a cheeky expression of the idea that he should have married her, not bought her amazing jewelry, or she could've said "if you like it then you shoulda bought me a fucking Gucci couch & set me up" or whatever. Beyonce's music/persona has never been centered on that kind of idea, it's pretty obviously of the "cheaters to the left" or "I'm going to have AOL make your e-mail stop, because you're so annoying, and you think buying me a pair of shoes means I'll like you" variety. Not that Beyonce herself is a coherent reconciliation of all her lyrical matter but it just is strange to make "put a ring on it" all about the ring, even though none of the rest of the song seems to care about it and is more like "ughh fuck this unrewarding relationship that has made me feel neglected, it's over and I'm hitting the dance floor and having some fun." Which without needing to beanplate it is fun and great and very relieving, and in the same vein as my last comment I think it's a big relief for a woman to be able to say "fuck you for never wanting to marry me" instead of hiding and mincing around and pretending like she didn't care about marriage, just "love," even if "love" meant saying "I want to be with you forever!" but then blanching when the idea of actually being together forever comes up. Lots of women want a faithful, committed relationship (and often a family) and are made to feel crazy and needy for not putting up with years of will he/won't he where bringing up the subject of marriage is punished with silence and distance. Women are supposed to accept "of course I love you and want to be with you forever, but marriage... " as purer than what they value about marriage, despite what they want, so I think saying "I want to get married and if you don't, I'm ending this" is a healthy expression of boundaries and needs. Blee bloo blaa. (I mean, how can you listen to "Halo" and not think "these people need to be marrrrrried, stat.")
posted by stoneandstar at 12:08 AM on March 25, 2013


It's not that it's anti-empowerment. It's only that "Independent Woman" is way more of an empowerment anthem.

It'd be like if someone was doing a review of the music of Spinal Tap and was declaring that "and they're so loud - why, in this song they turn their amps all the way up to eight!" You wonder how they missed the song where they turned it up to eleven.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:24 AM on March 25, 2013


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