I wish I could just watch this and enjoy it, but it reminds me of a trend that pisses me off and it won’t let me go.
This probably seems obvious and unnecessary to say, but women are not running the world. Except it isn’t obvious, apparently, and so it is necessary to say. Songs like this, to me, are very damaging because they seek to find comfort in complacency. Like by claiming we have the power to manipulate men makes us empowered.
When the achieved power position is reliant on someone else’s transference of power or permission, newsflash: that was not a position of power. And it is certainly not equality, which should go without saying. What frustrates me the most about this video is that I feel like everyone watching it should spend the whole damn thing wanting to laugh in Beyonce’s naive face. Are you seriously going to stand up there and say that “girls” run the world, without recognizing how your wording betrays the fact that we don’t? We can’t be women and rule the world; we have to be perpetually youthful or infantilized? And you’re going to whip your blonde hair back and forth, and say we rule the world, without recognizing that your attractiveness is shaped in the image that white, male America deems most worthy of their attention? (A black woman’s natural hair is fine for back up dancers apparently, though. Even though — or because — no one will ever know their names.) Or hey, bend over and do a back bump, or spread your legs, and try to pretend like it’s owning your sexuality, ask men to pay you, and request politely that, if they respect you, to “please receive your shine.”
Fuck that shit! As women, we are worthy of respect. FUCK THAT, AS HUMAN BEINGS, WE ARE WORTHY OF RESPECT. And that respect should be earned by our minds, by our passion, by our courage and integrity. As women, we need to recognize that not only is manipulation through sexuality a cowardly method of achievement, it is NOT EMPOWERING TO CONTROL SOMEONE VIA SEXUAL MANIPULATION. If we are going to own our sexuality, we have to own it in the same way that men are allowed to own theirs. As an expression of our truest selves. As a gift from our bodies for pleasure. As a perfectly acceptable biological urge. Not as a tool that we detach from ourselves.
Every time I see some horribly misguided person talk about how the women are in charge in a relationship, because they control the availability of sex, it just fucking enrages me. As if sex is separate from the person. As if women need or want it less. As if it’s expected that we use it to win arguments and get our way. More than that, men are expected to submit to this! It’s accepted that men will do anything for sex, if the woman is desired enough.
Why can’t it be generally accepted that, in a relationship, sex should be used for pleasure, that it should only be because both people wanted to have sex? The effect of this “women are empowered because they are sexual beings” aspect of our visual culture is the woman who has sex with her man without orgasm nearly everytime, and thinks it’s normal. She’s so detached from her sexual existence she only comes when she’s on her own, because it’s only then that it’s truly on her own terms. If you can’t believe this would happen, think to yourself — how many men do you think regularly have sex, not because they want it, or expect to be able to orgasm, but because their woman desires it? Now ask yourself how many women?
How can people not see that difference as being a huge problem?
Yeeaaah. I was actively trying to ignore this because I enjoyed the video and the beat so much. I do have some rationalizations though I think are somewhat valid.
I don’t think the original point of the song was that women own because of sex, not entirely anyway. The combination of video’s wardrobe and some of the lyrics certainly make that the implication unfortunately. But I think the song is meant to be like most “girl power” songs, a kind of overcompensation, something to give women confidence. Its a silly attempt obviously, the song doesn’t teach women anything about themselves or their situation, just something to chant to themselves when they’re in a bad mood.
Also, the video does counteract some of the bad I think. Like I said in my original post, the riot gear and the overall war zone imagery implies a battle against patriarchy. The fact that the girls do a sexy dance rather than actually fighting I don’t actually mind, because to me it didn’t say “I’m going to use my sexuality to make you bend to my will,” it was more like “I’m going to do what I do, be sexy or tough or whatever I like, and you’re not going to do shit about it.” Like a form of nonviolent protest. Of course, in a situation like Beyonce’s she can’t avoid objectification, so its a bit of a futile effort. She would’ve been more successful if a less conventional form sexy was used.
The salute at the end gives the girls in the video the role of soldiers rather than just sex objects. Its also a sign of respect, again with the idea of peaceful protest. But then, a salute is something you do to someone who outranks you, and I don’t know who in their right mind would salute riot police.
So yeah, you’re absolutely right, that’s something I was frustrated with, to the point that whenever I listen to it I try to rewrite the lyrics. Though I still think there might be some stuff to enjoy about it other than the dancing and the beat.