Is Beyoncé an appropriate ambassador for feminism?

Is Beyoncé an appropriate ambassador for feminism?

I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman,” Worldwide phenomenon music artist Beyoncé said in a recent interview with Vogue magazine.  Surely her enormous success would seem to offer a great cause for celebration in the world of feminism, having claimed a throne of power in the normally male-dominated multimillion-dollar empire otherwise known as the music industry, while meanwhile breaking the mould set by other high-profile mainstream female entertainers by choosing to openly express her true opinions on gender inequalities. In the years of her upcoming success, much controversy has surrounded the question; ‘Is Beyoncé truly a feminist?’ with many people claiming that the femininity that Beyoncé exhibits and feminism itself stand in stark binary opposition.

There are many social, political and cultural factors contributing to both sides of the argument equally, however before we begin to consider this example further, it would prove worthy to first establish the true meaning of ‘a feminist’. Since the 1800’s, feminism has worked to advocate for women, striving for both equality and diversity, challenging structural inequalities in society, and being pro-woman without being anti-man.

Initially following traditional beliefs, feminism then progressed to follow more complex structures especially with the introduction of post-feminism in the late 1990’s, which has become a key term in the lexicon of feminist cultural critique, posing as a contradictory to traditional ideas and presenting changes such the shift from objectification to subjectification, meaning that post-feminists are self aware and demonstrate the female ideology of being in control of their own bodies, in opposition to being disregarded as an instrument of sexual pleasure.

It could be argued that linear feminism is outdated, as the relative positions of men and women in modern western societies are becoming more similar, with generally equal rights due to the fact that sexual equality is something that almost everybody in power at least claims they are in favour of after a great deal of changes in society in the second half of the twentieth century.

Beyoncé is seemingly open to the male gaze, which is Laura Mulvey’s theory that women are represented in the media not as a cognitive subject, instead as a ‘sexual’ object existing merely to gratify male fantasies and desires via the process of scopophilia.  For this reason in certain circumstances viewers would consider that the thin barrier between sexual empowerment and exploitation is broken in the example of Beyoncé, however arguably every pop culture icon, actress or singer could possibly fall into the “hyper-sexualised” category in one way or another. Any show of sexuality is not inherently dis-empowering, instead it shows the star’s ownership of her own sexuality, proving to be a consistent quality of her image.

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7 thoughts on “Is Beyoncé an appropriate ambassador for feminism?

  1. I think you’ve made some really interesting points considering this is just your opening. I think you could expand on the theory ideas later on in your essay but the way you have described Beyonce’s role in the music industry and how it is against sexist ideas is a really strong way to begin. There’s definitely some interesting points that you can expand on further into your investigation but for your opening I think this is a great start- maybe you could include some more sources to this?

    • Thankyou jasmine, I intend to further expand on the male-gaze theory and also include uses and gratifications in order to analyze what different genders recieve from watching the artist. Also I am using the examples of GQ magazine and comparing it to Ms. Magazine which shows a male-run magazine vs. a feminist magazine, and how Beyonce is represented in each of these.

  2. bobbi14 says:

    You get straight to the point in your opening paragraphy and I really like how you have opened with a quote from Beyonce. There is good use of media terminology throughout the introduction. Maybe include some more examples to go with your work.

  3. abiclaytonx says:

    The quoted opening works very effectively as it not only grabs the readers attention but is also an interesting source in its own right which is very clever. I personally think this is a very interesting topic and question not only as a fan of Beyonce but I think feminism is a poweful subject which you explore very well throughout this introduction. You have a really good knowledge of history and this was really interesting to read as you give different sides to an argument.

    I agree with Jasmine that you should expand more in to your investigation including more examples and sources of Beyonce and feminism or even against it. Can’t wait to read more. 🙂

    • Thankyou abi I’m glad you find my investigation of interest. I intend to include examples later on by comparing the representations of Beyonce in a male-run magazine (GQ) and in a feminist magazine (Ms. Magazine)

  4. The starting quote is very useful but maybe not to use at the very start? you should begin with an overview of Beyonce and her effect on the media. Is she a role model? an icon? a brand? I like your use of media theory, such as Mulvey’s theory on Male Gaze. A strong use of media language.

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