I’ve been loving on Beyonce’s most recent, self-titled album since it came out toward the end of last year. “XO” and “Superpower” (a collaborative track with Frank Ocean, another love of mine) have been staples on my playlists for class. Though I found the inclusion of recordings from the Challenger tragedy pretty tasteless, I love the passion behind “XO” and the ballad-esque, indulgently, sensually powerful yet calming effects of “Superpower.”
Today I drove from Madison to Milwaukee for an interview and listened to the album again the whole way through since it had been awhile. Although everyone hailed the album for being feminist, I never really saw it as a game-changing feminist album. “Pretty Hurts” was pretty basic as far as my feminism is concerned — society wants girls to be pretty and in trying to achieve that paradigm, we often hurt ourselves physically, mentally, or emotionally. *Yawn.* That was my twelve-year-old self’s idea of a radical assertion. Though I like that she bravely unleashed her sexuality on a few tracks, personally I didn’t care for the hypersexual tracks, and not because they were hypersexual. I just thought the metaphors and similes were super cheesy and heavy-handed.
The oft-cited “***Flawless” is a little better, examining marriage briefly (“I took some time to live my life/But don’t think that I’m just his little wife”), explicitly including a definition of feminism I identify with from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I love. I have issues with the repetition of the lyrics “bow down, bitches,” which to me implies a hierarchy of some kind — any kind of hierarchy that requires lower tiers to “bow down, bitches” is antithetical to the feminism I practice.
“Mine” caught my attention this time around more than usual. In it, she is so candid about the status of her marriage (“Been having conversation about breakups and separations/I’m not feeling like myself since the baby”). I love that she fully exposes her vulnerability by expressing her doubt about the future but confesses she still finds her partner “so fine.”
I loved “Jealous” for the same reasons, as well as for it’s heartbreaking honesty and self-awareness.
And I hate you for your lies and your covers
And I hate us for making good love to each other
And I love making you jealous, but don’t judge me
And I know I’m being hateful but that ain’t nothing, that ain’t nothing
I’m just jealous
I’m just human
Don’t judge me
Again, I find it really brave that she puts these insecurities on display for literally the whole world to hear. If it were me, I probably wouldn’t even tell my family. Which brings me to my final point: she turns a potentially disempowering emotion into an empowering one by turning it into art. That’s some feminism I can get behind. Other “f” words I can get behind? “Freakum” and “flex” (see below).I’ll be incorporating those into my vocabulary for sure.<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/81851566″>Beyoncé – “JEALOUS” (Official Video)</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/alexanderhammer”>Alexander Hammer</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Also, if you want some amazingly hilarious commentary on this album, even though I disagree with a lot of it, check this out.