Love Life Advice from Beyonce

Yes, yes, we all know about “to the left, to the left” and “all the single ladies.” But if you listen to Beyonce’s oeuvre in its entirety as I have, thanks to a borderline obsession and a lot of workouts, you will find she has a very clear, complete philosophy on relationships that goes beyond great kiss-offs. A few of our favorite tips, as only Beyonce can give them:

From “Ego,” lines to use on the man you’ve got your eye on:

Some women were made
But me, myself?
I like to think that I was created
For a special purpose
You know?
What’s more special than YOU?

Well, you got the key to my heart
But you ain’t gonna need it
I’d rather you open up my body
And show me secrets you didn’t know was inside
No need for me to lie.

[Read more...]

Translating Female Pop Stars’ Quotes on Feminism

The media likes to ask female pop stars about feminism. A lot. In fact, for some reason, young female singers are bombarded with this question so much that it has become its own news category. When someone like Taylor Swift or Beyonce answers the question, “Are you a feminist?”, the Internet blows up with critique. There never seems to be a right answer.

There’s a problem in both the phrasing of the question and also in these women’s comprehension of it. The media, particularly certain feminist blogs, are looking for provocative discourse and celebrities are easy targets. (Feministing subtly calls this an “annoying conversation.”) But it’s more than that. It’s problematic not only because it makes women the targets of scorn by other women, but also overlooks the bigger forces at work behind the entertainment industry that promote a patriarchal business structure and overwhelmingly value female artists for their sexuality rather than their talent.

These young women (and they are always young when they get this question for the first time) are not thinking about what it means to be a feminist at the exact moment a reporter points her microphone at them and asks them to identify with something they’re not quite sure of yet. They are not dumb, but perhaps they haven’t yet evolved into their feminist identities. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay, even for someone righteously living like a feminist without knowing it yet.

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Leave Beyonce, Lena, and Rihanna Alone Already

In the past several months, Beyonce, Lena Dunham, and Rihanna have taken intense heat for the following ills of society:

1. Sexism overall, specifically their own capitulation to sexism by refusing to wear pants, or clothes, at given times in their performing lives. Other problems apparently include their sexiness, their sexuality, and, in the case of Lena, the sexiness of others on screen with her.

2. The fraught history of women taking their husbands’ last names upon marriage.

3. Racism.

4. Violence against women.

5. Promiscuity.

6. General lack of morals and possibly the decline of civilization.

[Read more...]

Links for Sexy Feminists: Vulvas, Sheryl Sandberg, Chelsea Welch, and more

Lights Out on Superbowl Trafficking: Beyoncé owned at Superbowl halftime. Don’t believe us? Check the NYT. But even our favorite independent lady can’t distract us from raising awareness of huge human trafficking concerns that come to light with the Super Bowl.

Vulvas are Vonderful: If the “Barbie” vulva offered by plastic surgeons makes you cringe, check out this awesome artwork with sex positive tips on a woman’s natural exterior “down there.”

Jesus the Feminist: Feminism and Christianity may not be as mutually exclusive as it seems right now.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is making waves as “a pom pom girl for feminism.” The WSJ got a sneak peak at her upcoming book, and points out that her privilege prevents her from understanding the struggles regular women face.

Chelsea Welch, the waitress who Applebee’s very controversially fired, speaks out in a new piece. Jezebel on the social justice aspects of tipping, and Feministe on the unacceptable service side of not tipping.

Everything About Beyoncé Is About Power

Everyone agrees that Beyoncé killed it at the Super Bowl. There’s no loved-it/hated-it debate out there—no one could argue that it was anything less than Awesome (yup, capital a).  And look at how worked up everyone got on Twitter (including Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Martha Stewart)! But, of course, there is debate. Sadly, some critics still find the need to pick apart and judge this woman for things that at this point are becoming quite sexist—not to mention boring.

First, there’s the focus on her wardrobe rather than her music (really, we’re still doing this?) There was some analysis basically saying the slut-shaming analysis of her wardrobe wasn’t the issue (though it still focused on that). And then there were just the crazy people who just flat-out called her a slut. (This is but one of myriad examples; I choose not to direct traffic to any others). 

There are two ways for female pop stars to appropriate themselves in performance: The way that gets the public to look at their bodies as a form of marketing, selling sex first, product second (early Britney Spears, The Pussycat Dolls). And the way Beyoncé, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera and P!nk (not to mention the Riot Grrrls before them) do it: As a middle finger to that gaze.

During the half time show, Beyoncé’s wardrobe was armor. When she stepped out into the lion’s den of masculinity and jock culture that is the Super Bowl, she wasn’t timid. She stomped her feet and popped her collar, signifying that they’d better watch out. My new favorite writer over at says it brilliantly: “That a Black woman claimed and owned her power during the misogynist, consumerist celebration known as the Super Bowl only highlights Beyoncé’s brilliance and boldness.” [Read more...]

Feminist History in Song: Beyonce’s ‘If I Were a Boy’

In this new feature, we’ll be exploring the stories behind some of our favorite feminist anthems.


Beyonce has famously talked about how she has a stage persona she evokes to become the monster-diva she needs to be for concerts — Sasha Fierce. For most of us, Beyonce herself is our Sasha Fierce. A few years ago, my sister and I resolved at New Year’s time to always think, “What would Beyonce do?” Since then we’ve both found relationships with fantastic men; she started her own boudoir photography business, and I have two passion-project books coming out this year. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I’ve been watching Bey’s “I Am …” concert tour video on demand lately just to up my inspiration factor, and it never lets me down.

Beyonce is a great songwriter, seemingly able to spin out a girl-power anthem on demand: “Single Ladies,” “Survivor,” “Independent Women,” “Run the World (Girls),” “Bootylicious.” She has appeared to struggle more with her sensitive side in songwriting, despite her protestations that she’s not Sasha Fierce in her everyday life. “Irreplaceable” slows things down and tells you she’s a little hurt by love gone wrong, but she can’t help doing a great, empowered woman scorned and giving us a kiss-off for the ages: “To the left, to the left.”

That all changed with “If I Were a Boy.” This 2008 ballad softened her vocal delivery and showed a new vulnerability even as it still catalogued double-standards still present in our everyday lives: “If I were a boy … I’d put myself first/And make the rules as I go/’Cause I’d know that she’d be faithful/Waiting for me to come home.”

Of course, what may have gotten lost in fans’ swooning over this new kind of song for Bey — and the undeniably satisfying video in which she and a guy switch roles for a day, she playing a cheating cop and he mooning for her back home — is that Beyonce did not write this song. Which is standard practice in the music business, but an interesting departure for the singer. And, as it turns out, it also included some intrigue and rivalry.

The song was actually written by a singer-songwriter named BC Jean. You can imagine her singing “If I Were a Boy,” with her soft-guitar-rock vibe. In addition to the song going into the big murky pot of song choices that many artists pluck from for recordings, Jean also recorded her own version. Beyonce, however, fell in love with it, recorded it, and decided to release it as a single. That’s when Jean first heard about Bey’s version, and she was not pleased. Bey’s version, of course, went platinum, and even inspired Reba McEntire to do her own cover.

Beyonce told MTV News she chose the song as a deliberate departure: “I had to try it, because I remember Aretha Franklin said a great singer can sing anything and make it her own.” But Jean vented to fans on her MySpace page: ”I have been reading some of these comments and to set the record straight from the horse’s mouth – IF I WERE A BOY is my song; YES, I wrote this song; It is my story; a painful one, and the song is very dear to me.” Eventually, however, she struck a deal with Beyonce’s manager/father, Matthew Knowles, that seemed to make everyone happy. She now proudly claims the writing credit for the hit on her website.

Beyonce, meanwhile, garnered particular acclaim for her version. Billboard said her vocals were “breathtaking, exquisitely emotive, mournful, and mature.” The LA Times raved,  ”This isn’t just another breakup song; it’s an elegy for female empowerment, Beyoncé’s admission that no amount of money, fame or skill can solve the basic inequity between her man’s heart and her own.”

Feminist or Not?: From Beyonce To Sarah Palin, Weigh In On These Polarizing Icons

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We regularly discuss the feminist qualities of books, TV shows and sometimes, in the case of Lady Gaga, someone’s feminist evolution. But when it comes to these polarizing individuals, we’re undecided. Help us determine: Feminist or Not?

Think of anyone we've missed? Sound off in the comments below!

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