I can’t say I really enjoy Beyoncé’s songs, because let’s face it, I’m inclined towards rock. But what I can is appreciate what she’s done for feminism.
However, the problem with Beyoncé is that while she has lovely songs that speak for women empowerment (and she’s a model of it too), the patriarchal society that we live in highlights her sexuality. There’s nothing wrong with being sexy; heck, it can even be construed as another form of empowerment. But there’s always the negative view on attractiveness, that it’s sinful and a bad influence.
Admittedly, letting your daughters grow up watching Beyoncé music videos (amongst other female artists) will probably lead them to believe in the need for sexiness to succeed in life. That has led to plenty of cases of anorexia/bulimia, not to mention bullying and fat-shaming. But isn’t that the job of the parents to educate otherwise? That looks isn’t everything for a woman, that hard work plays a role? Parents should be highlighting the hard work Beyoncé puts into her performances, and showing their kids the lyrics and explaining the meaning behind them. Blaming the industry won’t solve any issues, even if it’s easy to do so (and frankly, it does need to take some responsibility).
And why not educate the kids about Adele, or any other singer who doesn’t use overt sexuality to sell albums? Paramore’s Hayley Williams is good looking, but she’s a rocker and doesn’t try to appeal via her looks. Nor does Amy Lee of Evanescence. Jennifer Lawrence is a whole ‘nother debate, but her candid views on fat-shaming and the ridiculousness of the demands of society is quite refreshing (on the surface at least).
Again, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good. And the recent case about the Duke university undergrad who does porn and feels empowered by it? Sure, why not. Empowerment doesn’t have to be in the fields where men currently dominate. Empowerment can come from many other places, places where only women can venture. Heck, I think women have plenty of power over men, especially with regards to sex.
It’s about taking the right view. That women can be just as successful, just as capable as men in whatever field they choose to be in. That’s my view on feminism. If they enjoy working in porn, should we tell them that it’s dirty? I don’t think it’s any worse than any other job. I think being in the military and having to kill other human beings is a dirtier job. Spying and stealing information is dirty. Porn is consumed by so many people everyday, all around the world. Given the health and safety regulations they probably have in place, I’d wager the porn industry is probably safer than working in a sweatshop.
We just have a fixed mindset that sex is bad, and so we avoid broaching the subject. It becomes an albatross around society’s neck, strangling it. We need sex to reproduce (although in vitro births do exist now). We use sex to build intimacy with partners (which is important in a largely monogamous world, populated by creatures that instinctively wish to be polygamous). Why should it be embarrassing and shameful to be involved in something so widespread and common throughout the world?
I don’t agree with radical feminism, because I’m all for equality, not a matriarchal society. That’s not chauvinism, that’s just a preference. How a female-dominated society will be better than a male-dominated society is up for debate. But equality is desirable, and equality is what we should strive to achieve. And women should be allowed to reach that point via whatever means they choose. Be it in politics (Angela Merkel, Aung San Suu Kyi, Yulia Tymoshenko) or in entertainment, we should be supportive. Men sell their physicality and masculinity in sports. Why can’t women sell their sexuality?
(Although there is an argument that female Olympians are feeding the anti-feminists ammo by doing so.)
Feminism takes on many forms. Beyoncé is just one of them.