I'm sure I don't need to write this post, as many women of color have added to the piles of articles on the net regarding white feminists' eagerness to discredit Beyoncé as a feminist. After the release of the self-titled album, I had quietly told myself that it wasn't worth to comment on, or else I would be livid for the rest of the year.
Yesterday morning, I came across this post.
1. Because they typically focus on her sexuality, they reinforce the notion that black women are worthless because they are viewed as inherently sexual, even if they take ownership of it. In addition to her wealth and power in the industry, she is cast as a Jezebel because she refuses to be a Mammy. This is why it is "heroic" for Miley Cyrus or Lena Dunham to express their sexuality, but not Beyoncé because as a whole we expect black women to become non-threatening if they are to maintain social links with white women.
2. No one posts articles about how Lena Dunham can't be a feminist because she said nothing when her best friend dated Terry Richardson and called him a friend, when Ani DiFranco tried to host a music retreat at a plantation, or when Kathleen Hanna played at an anti-trans women music festival. These mistakes/offenses are nothing to make light of; however, no one writes articles about how their "feminist cards" need to be revoked. Additionally, it reinforces the notion that when people of color make mistakes, the general public is less forgiving to them than their white counterparts.
3. In the era of Macklemore and Lorde, where songs against "urban music's so-called materialism" receive accolades, there is much being said about how that makes Beyoncé "unattainable," "unrelatable," and "only a narcissistic superstar who solely cares about her wealth." There's a hypocrisy (we don't complain about Madonna's wealth, or Paul McCartney's) and blatant ignorance re: context (many currently successful black celebrities came from working class or poor communities). If you had nothing in the beginning, why would you continue to live humbly when you finally have something?
4. One of the other issues that pops up in these posts concerns Beyoncé's lack of academic credentials in feminism, the idea that she must take courses or have read certain authors in order to take the title. This ignores that fact that feminist acts can be made without being read/educated in Western (specifically American) feminist lit and works, and that the grand majority of women who do what we would consider feminism do not go about their lives thinking of themselves as doing specific feminist work; however, we do not discredit the grand majority of women. It is something else to push artists who have been adamant about being non-feminists while those who proudly own the label are made to be pariahs.
5. Beyoncé is alienating to white feminists, eager to throw her under the bus, is because her feminism does not explicitly address their lives and concerns, but those of black women. In a society where "black" or "person of color" or "minority" means black men, and "women" typically means white women, it is startlingly to see a person use "feminism" but have all their stage crew be black woman, give jobs to black women, represent the multitudes of black women's lives, and puts a West African feminist on full blast, all without having to ask for forgiveness or approval. This is what is aggravating to white feminists who have beef with Beyoncé: she does not apologize for putting her experiences upfront while not catering to a group of people who want to control a label for themselves.