The Evolving Sphere of Black Feminism — A Focus on the Beyonce Knowles` Music Journey and Women Inspiration
The Evolving Sphere of Black Feminism — A Focus on the Beyonce Knowles` Music Journey and Women InspirationThe issue of feminism is perhaps one of the notable issues that characterize the contemporary society. The feminist movements are been active in championing for women rights, including advocating for equality. The feminist movements have been further divided along different orientations, paving the way to concepts such as black feminism, which is focused on advocacies of the rights of the black women. The activism of black feminism has been evidenced in different spheres of life, especially the media. To a certain extent, media is acknowledging forms of media bias directed against women of color, and in response, it is featuring content aimed at counteracting the effect of such discriminations. The black women are also active in asserting their position as an empowered group like the rest of the society. While these directions might reflect revolutions against media discrimination of women of color, they also show various forms of transitions that women are making in confronting male chauvinism and other forces that stand in the on the way of black feminist movements. Indeed, part of the evidence can be read from the media work by various black artistes, especially popular American singers such as Beyonce. The purpose of this paper is to explore the evolving sphere of black feminism, focusing on the case of Beyonce Knowles` music journey and how she deals with the trauma of a typical woman. As a black women icon, Beyonce`s songs carry certain strong messages that portray the shifting spheres of the black feminism, revealing how the feminist activism has taken to the media and how it is playing a crucial role in inspiring women to deal with trauma of the black women through empowerment and self-expression.The Organization of the PaperTo realize the intended outcomes, the rest of the paper is organized as follows. First, the concept of black feminism is defined. Subsequently, the position of Beyonce is examined based on her works such as the goddess performance during the Grammy awards and the Garden of Eden pose, including her various popular hits songs.Understanding Black FeminismIn examining the significance of Beyonce in black feminism, it is first important to define the meaning of the concept. Black feminism can be defined as the school of thought that focuses on empowering the rights of black women, who have been subordinated in different sphere of life. The concept acknowledges that the problems the black women have been facing has to do with different factors, including class operation, sexism, and racism gender identity, which it considers to be inherently connected, and which it strives to confront (Brooks, 2008). The history of black feminism is documented and essentially brings into light different experiences the black women have been subjected. For instance, as Chatman (2015) observes, unlike the black men, black women have been traditionally condemned to contend both racial discrimination and lateral violence — when in the environment of other races, the black women are vulnerable to racial violence, insubordination, social status and vilifications, and when in the environment of their own people, the black women are vulnerable to gender stereotyping, class discrimination and subordination by male chauvinist. All these challenges can be collectively termed as the black women trauma (Durham, 2012). In this regard, the focus for black feminism has been to attempt to subvert all the negative forces such as racism, male chauvinism, gender identity and class issues through self-expression, self-assertion, and empowerment (Hobson, 2013). Indeed, a look at Beyonce`s work evidences these elements in many ways.The Goddess-like Performance in the Grammy AwardsHer goddess-like performance in the Grammy Awards has been perhaps her recent notable epic journeys in advocacy of black feminism. At the time, she was pregnant and the fans were wondering how she would be able to maintain her queen-like status. Traditionally, many of her compatriots have been limited by the pregnancy status, fearing to future in the public or in shows, opting to take a `privacy` leave. Such decisions has always been in response to perspectives and stereotypes that the society holds about women and pregnancy, regarding the status as less appealing and sexy (Duran, 2016). Therefore, when Beyonce defied all the odds and staged her goddess performance, it was a tribute to black feminism and an inspiration of how women deal with the trauma of motherhood. The show started with reminiscing of the 2011 performance of American Music Awards, projecting, before the pregnant Beyonce appeared to give the goddess performance. Her bold appearance and performance sends a strong message that women do not have to be pinned down because of their motherhood status (Midgette, 2017).It is worth noting that Beyonce Knowles, including his group, Destiny Child, only rose to fame in the late 1990s, implying that most of the work was written after 2000. Nevertheless, it is still possible to find the true stand of Beyonce of those days. In her early music career, combining with the group, Destiny Child, Beyonce`s focus could be seen as somewhat reserved. Her scope of focus was the kind that matches an ordinary black American girl. Her songs carried the general themes that appealed to the common black women such as love relationships. One of her popular, early songs was `Crazy in Love`. Released in 1998, the song pours out the emotions of a typical woman in love to a man. Engulfed in the love relationship, the woman seems helpless before the man. Indeed, this position can be discerned from an excerpt of the lyrics reads, which reads, “… If you ain`t there ain`t nobody else to impress, the way that you know what I thought I knew” (Destiny Child, “Crazy in Love”). Certainly, the song portrays women here as weak `creatures` who must submit to a man as a slave of love. The themes that Beyonce carries are different.The Implications of Garden of Eden PhotoHer Garden of Eden photo is also another portrait with strong message advocating for black feminism. Here, Beyonce talks poses for the photo adorned with jewels, in the apparent Garden of Eden. She is pregnant. This pose is particularly significant to women empowerment and self-expression of their womanhood, sending a message that black women do not have to be embarrassed about their status of womanhood (Berman, 2014). Besides, has been producing songs that can be otherwise seen as women liberation songs. The position of the persona changes from a woman who submits to men because of love, to an empowered woman with a feminist attitude. For instance, in “Bootylicious”, which was released in 2001, Beyonce and her team challenge men, the apparent chauvinist, to show they deserve female favors (Bale, 2016). The song can be seen to elevate the status of women, a dedication to the compatriots to rise above male chauvinism and dominance, and challenge men to submission by capitalizing on self-expression, beauty and sexy bodies, in what they call `bootylicious`.This new, radical stance can be seen in many other Beyonce`s songs. For instance, in the “Independent Woman”, the singer calls upon the society to recognize the influence that women have on the society. Women should not be seen to be dependent on men, anymore. This view can be noted from part of the lyrics that reads, “…Question tell me what you think about me, I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings …Try to control me boy, you get dismissed, Pay my own car note and I pay my own bills, Always 50/50 in relationship” (Destiny Child, “Independent Woman”, 2001). In this except, the singer can be seen to be confronting the male chauvinism, asking why women should deserve to be trampled upon by men yet they contribute to relationships as much as men do. In other words, the song mobilizes the independent women to rise confront and support black feminist spirit.In 2001, Destiny Child released “Survivor”. The video features women in the revolutionary war against men. They hold bows and arrows and confront men, who are apparently terrified and must flee. The lyric carries the message of a now empowered woman, too. Part of the song goes, “now that you are out of my life, … Thought that I will be weak without you, but I am stronger, thought that I will be stressed without you, but am chilling … I am survivor … I am gonna make it” (Destiny Child “Survivor.” 2011). It is indisputable that the message is dedicated to women to encourage them revolt against male dominance, and presented to the chauvinist follies to remind them that it is no longer business as usual — that black women are empowered and must be respected.Destiny Child`s 2004 single, “Girl” is not different, either. If only, its message is much stronger because it goes further to advance the crusade of women self-determinism, a concept that encourages women to hold each other`s hand and walk together in the quest for empowerment and liberation from male dominance. It calls upon girls [women] to desist from being each other`s enemy and strive to nurture the supportive relationship to see them through common challenges such as heartbreaks and men dominance. A line in the lyrics goes, “… He`s Taking Advantage Of Your Passion … You Don`t Let Him Walk Over Your Heart … Because We`ve Come Too Far” (Destiny Child “Girl” 2004). The song can be seen asking victims of men dominance to resist men taking advance of their love at the backdrop of various achievements that have been made by the black feminism (Kornhaber, 2017).In “Upgrade You”, released in 2006, Beyonce confronts the issue of male Chauvinism with a feminist attitude, too. In the song, the persona is disturbed by the popular male chauvinist perceptions that perceive women as individuals who are unable to take care of themselves and who must be pampered by men to look good. She is disgusted by the common promises by men such as `I will upgrade you`, which are often directed to women to woe them, asserting its insensibility. The song goes “… Talk your shit heheh (partner let me upgrade you) …How you`re gonna upgrade me … What`s higher than number one … you know I used to beat that block …Now I be`s the block (partner let me upgrade you) (Beyonce “Upgrade You”, 2006). In essence, the song can be seen to be facing off the popular gender-demeaning perceptions that black women count on men for survival.ConclusionIn conclusion, the purpose of this paper has been to explore the evolving sphere of black feminism, focusing on the significance of Beyonce`s work on advancing the activism and inspiring women to deal with black woman trauma. As an icon in the black feminist movement, Beyonce`s focus can be seen as a perfect portrait of the developments in the black feminism, and evidences a transition from a world of reserved women, to empowered women who are outspoken and outgoing, and who confront male chauvinism with fearless, boldness. The reserved position of Beyonce of those days can be best seen in the 1990s, when (together with Destiny Child), concentrates on singing about ordinary subjects such as the feelings of women in love. In doing so, she only happened to portray women as weak, desperate, loving creatures whose aspiration could only be fulfilled with the presence of men. In contrast, following the new millennium, Beyonce changes and becomes an active feminist icon. Many of her songs begin concentrating on empowering women to confront common problems facing black feminism such as racism, lack of self-expression and motherhood trauma.ReferencesBale, M. (2016). “Beyonce`s `Lemonade` Is a Revolutionary Work of Black Feminism:Critic`s Notebook.” Billboard. The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Apr. 2016.Berman, E. (2014). “Watch Beyoncé`s Short Film Celebrating the Anniversary of Her Self-Titled Album.” Time.ComBeyonce, K. (2006) Upgrade You. SugarHill StudiosBrooks, D. (2008). “All That You Can`t Leave Behind”: Black Female Soul Singing andthe Politics of Surrogation in the Age of Catastrophe.” Meridians: Feminism,Race, Transnationalism, 8(1):180-204.Chatman, D. (2015). “Pregnancy, Then It`s “Back to Business”.” Feminist Media Studies,15(6): 926-941.Destiny Child (2011) Survivor . SugarHill StudiosDestiny Child (1998). Crazy in Love. SugarHill StudiosDestiny Child (2001) Independent Woman. SugarHill StudiosDestiny Child. (2001). Bootylicous. SugarHill StudiosDestiny Child. (2004). Girl. Sugar Hill StudiosDuran, J. (2016). “Women of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Feminism and SocialProgress.” Philosophia Africana, 17(2): 65-73.Durham, A. (2012). “Check on It”.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, pp.35-49.Hobson, J. (2013) “Beyoncé`s Fierce Feminism.” Ms,23(2):42-45.Kornhaber, S. (2017). “Beyoncé`s High-Art Pregnancy Photo.” The Atlantic. AtlanticMedia Company,Midgette, A (2017). “Analysis | Beyoncé`s Flower-filled Pregnancy Announcement HasPretty Deep Roots in Art History.” The Washington Post. WP Company.
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