Monday, 30 May 2011

Beyonce and the "empowerment" of Women

This post is mainly in response to Beyonce's newly released video, named "Run the world (girls)". So if you haven't seen it, you may want to watch it otherwise this post may not make sense to you. To give you a brief summary, Beyonce is basically dancing around, with an army of girls, wearing next to nothing, and chanting "Who run the world?? GIRLS!"

Lyrical problems:

I'm gonna go through the lyrics and tell you why I think this song is damaging for young women and girls. Whilst I would like very much for girls to even come close to running this world, in reality it is not true.

Beyonce says "some of them men think that they can freak this like we do, but no they won't. Make your cheques come at they neck, disrespect us no they won't." 

The last part of that is highly incorrect; they do and will continue to disrespect us. We might make up more than half of the world's population, do the important tasks such as raising children, but at the end of the day we are still being paid less to do the same jobs than our male counterparts. The situation is better now than it used to be, but the reality is that gender inequality still exists. So we are clearly not running the world. Males still dominate in the highly paid career professions such as Doctors, Dentists and Lawyers. Women are being abused and raped: so much for "disrespect us no they won't."

Another verse is "This goes out to all my girls that's in the club rocking the latest. Who will buy it for themselves and get more money later." 

So here B is trying to promote financial independence. I'm not against this at all, but, Islamically, the Man has to provide for the woman and take care of her. It's not to say that she can't have an income or work, or that she is the weaker gender, it is his right at the end of the day to provide for her. Just putting that out there. It's nice to be taken care of sometimes.

She then says "I think I need a barber, none of these hoes can fade me." I have no idea what she means by that, but I for one do not stand for being called a hoe. In case you need reminding, "hoe" is short for whore; a female prostitute. Why would you want to call yourself that? (Or other girls for that matter). It's bad enough that all the rap songs out there degrade women by calling them all kinds of insulting derogatory names, but the fact that we have turned this on its head and started calling ourselves such names is just ridiculous. How many times have you heard people calling themselves bitches and sluts, or seen it across someone's chest on a T-shirt?? All too often. It is really not constructive. I can understand how you can take something derogatory and label yourself as being that, in order for the word to become less derogatory. This can be demonstrated with the N-word, which is thrown about in rap songs left, right and centre. But has it worked? I don't know.

"Boy im just playing, come here baby. Hope you still like me, If you hate me.." Here it seems that Beyonce didn't actually mean what she just said, and kinda goes back on herself, which is confusing. I think she's highlighting the point that the boys aren't happy when girls are independent or have any kind of power, so she pretends she was just kidding and hopes he still likes her, because she's admitting that we do need men at the end of the day. That just sends out such a contradictory message. Either you run the world or you don't, there can't be any in betweens.

She then says, rather seductively, may I add: "you'll do anything for me". Looking like that, which man won't?!?

She continues later: "Boy you know you love it:  How we're smart enough to make these millions
Strong enough to bare the children, Then get back to business. See, you better not play me."
Ok B first of all, you have no children so you wouldn't have a clue about childbirth (neither would I for that matter). How many women do you know who have children and still make millions..? This sends out a highly unrealistic message to girls; which says that you should give birth to children yet in this capitalistic society you can also go back to work and make millions. Err... hello?? What about the child?! Who is going to raise this child to be happy, healthy and with good morals? Society? Well they'll definitely turn out messed up if you leave it to society. Most Mothers give up work to look after and care for their children, it won't just magically happen, and those that do go back to work are usually part time or only return once the child starts school. This gives a false impression to young women who will think that they can still do everything. We have limits, we are only human. Of course there are women, single mothers, who have no choice but the go back to work; but what's for sure is that they will not be making millions.

Visual problems:

The main visual problem with this, and many other videos by Female artists is that by wearing less clothes and dancing about we are somehow becoming empowered; by using our sexuality to our advantage empowers us. (I was going to put some pictures as reminders but decided that your eyes do not need to be exposed to it). Anyway, this is highly dangerous. This then impies that our sexuality defines us. This is damaging as young girls emulate such singers; and will copy what they are wearing or doing in the videos. They are given the message that disrespecting yourself and displaying your beauty is actually empowerment. And that is really no good, because women are then seen as sex objects or pieces of meat. Women and sex can sell anything, be it a car or a laptop. Our beauty and worth has been degraded to sex; nothing more nothing less. Since we are perceived as mere objects, our value falls below that of a human, since an inaminate object is worth less than a human being. This causes us to be subject to all kinds of physical and emotional abuse; be it domestic violence or rape. This has damaged our worth and our power as women or even humans; and yet Beyonce is claiming that by being scantily clad we somehow run the world. Well, unfortunately, we don't.

How many females do you see in Parliament, or in the US Senate? Not many; just a handful. So if we're not even in government, how the hell are we supposedly running the world?

Beyonce herself should be more than familiar with the prejudices that females face, as highlighted in her song "If I were a Boy", even if it's more about relationships than female empowerment. The song bascially highlights how much easier it is for guys in this world. She is basically saying how much better she would treat a girl if she were a boy, because she knows how hard it is. This is also demonstrated in the Ciara song "like a boy"; which demonstrates how guys can be "players" and abuse women and mistreat them, so what would happen if the roles were switched? It would be highly inappropriate for a woman to act in that manner, so why do guys get away with it?

Oh, watch this as well, it's a great summary in response to Beyonce's new video:

I'll leave you with this lovely Hadith:

"Treat women nicely, for a women is created from a rib, and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion, so, if you should try to straighten it, it will break, but if you leave it as it is, it will remain crooked. So treat women nicely." Bukhari, 4:55:548.


Furree Katt said...

that video (Run The World - Lies) was really informative, thanks a million for it!
i saw Beyonce's Run The World a couple of days back and i felt the same way. the music video really sends out a contradictory message, i especially disliked the skimpy clothes :/

ur lil' sis said...

V. true!
I should read your blog more often...
well done, triple H: me = V.PROUD OF YOU GIRL!
keep it up. xxx :) said...

I loved this post & I agree with it. You know what I don't get, how is dressing little to nothing in music videos going to empower women? Isn't it only going to make us more of sexobjects than anything else? o.0 I've watched the video before of the girl lol I loved it! haha she's so rigth tho it's full of lies.

Shahirah Elaiza said...

Assalamualaykum my dear,

Well said! I think some female singers are getting trashier by the day and this song sends contradictory messages and gives false empowerment.

Sadly this is the what the music industry is all about.

Once again, great post =) You should try to deconstruct more videos and write about them

Nas said...

Great post with some excellent points.
Did you watch that program on BBC / Iplayer called hiphop hunnies? It dealt with some of these issues.

[[[ x Smiley x ]]] said...

Okay, i just wrote a long comment and blogger ate it all up, the greedy mong! Ugh.
Im gonna write a short one now.
Brilliant post mann!
I love the way youve broken down the lyrics. I think this is a big problem we have nowadays esp when it comes to young girls. Music just isnt the same. And the clothes? blimeys.

Sara said...

Assalaam Alaikum,

I read this post a few days ago and absolutely love it! I agree with all the points you've brought up, and am saddened as well with the direction in which pop culture is headed. It's really disheartening to think that such videos (and messages) are what the youth of today idolize and admire. And thinking of what future generations will be subject to sends shivers down my spine.

Keep up the excellent posts. =)