Tag Archives: beyonce

Sex Spreadsheets are Bullshit. Grow Up.

So recently this spreadsheet went viral. A spreadsheet.

chelseaeyeroll

I’m already annoyed.

spreadsheet

First of all, what kind of passive aggressive bull shit is this? Are we 12?

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Here’s a newsflash: if there is something going on in your relationship, the quickest way to make it worse is to place the blame entirely on your partner and then EMAIL them a document you made specifically to shame them. How about being an adult and having an actual conversation with your partner about why you’ve been going through a dry spell? Because here’s another newsflash: your partner doesn’t owe you regular sex. Sex is a collaborative, cooperative experience. Your sex life is not static and it is not guaranteed. Just like other aspects of your relationship, it changes and evolves  and will require effort to be maintained. It’s an important aspect of any relationship, sure, but it’s not the only one. And given that the sex is dwindling and their communication obviously stinks, I’d venture to say that this couple has lots of other issues. I’m just so freakin’ annoyed by this guy I can hardly stand it! Have a conversation! Think seriously about why this may be occurring, including how you yourself may be contributing. Grow the fuck up. (Note: this goes for all people creating sex spreadsheets, cause apparently it’s a trend happening now ew gross come on guys, seriously.)

one more eye roll. cause ugh.
one more eye roll. cause ugh.

Speaking of how you may be contributing: some responses to this story have tried to maintain the pernicious myth that women are less interested in sex than men. I’m here to tell you that this is nonsense. Many have pointed to the orgasm gap to help explain women’s perceived disinterest. The orgasm gap, according to a recent study, is the fact that women are having 1 orgasm for every 3 that men have. Which just makes me so sad. And before you start with me, let’s clear some things up. Women are not ‘more complicated’ than men, anatomically speaking. Women are able to achieve orgasm at the same rate as men when they masturbate, and indeed women in same sex relationships have orgasms at the same rate as heterosexual men. It’s also not true that it takes women longer to achieve orgasm, because when masturbating it takes women and men the same time on average: 4 minutes. All it takes to make a woman cum is willingness, and basic understanding of female anatomy (because the clit isn’t hard to find, but it is absolutely necessary.)

francais
translation

Alright so we’ve cleared up the myth that women are harder to please sexually. So the orgasm gap isn’t natural and it’s not acceptable (or is shouldn’t be!)  As it stands, this gap can explain part of why women may seem less interested in sex than men. But another important factor is how we raise men and women differently when it comes to sexual self expression. Boys are allowed to be outward in their expressions of sexuality, and in fact expressing sexual desire is seen as a sign of a healthy young man. Men can brag about their sexual encounters, and their orgasms are an assumed part of ‘sex’ in the accepted cultural narrative. Girls, on the other hand, are raised knowing that for them, sexuality is shameful. Not only is too much desire or too many partners evidence that they are slutty, it can also be used to justify sexual violence. For women, one of the first ways they learn about sex is to fear rape. And it is crystal clear that they are partly responsible for preventing rape, by controlling their own behavior; not dressing too provocatively or getting drunk or “leading men on”.  All of this adds up to confusion, because we also teach girls that their worth can be measured by their perceived ‘fuck-ability.’ They must be available to give pleasure, but they must not want or seek pleasure too obviously. And there is not a single piece of sex education that teaches about women’s pleasure, so we don’t learn to make our pleasure a real priority. Add that to the lack of value we place on women’s bodies overall, and the picture is bleak.

howitturnsoutrulpaul

Listen guys. Sex doesn’t happen like in the movies. Two people, even if the chemistry is great, don’t always hit a home run the first time. Or the second, third, etc. And sometimes, if you’ve had the same partner for awhile, your sex life can hit a slump or a drought or whatever. Because sex is about more than just orgasms, it’s also about intimacy and communication and closeness. And your sex life doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and real life can get crazy. Awhile back I was working 2 retail jobs and my schedule was insane. I was working 6 or 7 days a week, often 10 or 12 hour days. And indeed, my sex life with my partner took a hit. I was exhausted, and I also didn’t feel good about myself (no yoga, crappy eating, no sleep, you get it.)

sotired

How did my partner respond? (HINT: it wasn’t by blaming me passive aggressively with a spread sheet of entitled anger.) He asked a simple question, over drinks: What’s up with our sex life? And I’m not saying that was an easy conversation, but we kept drinking and throwing out ideas, we laughed a lot, and we were willing and honest. We didn’t yell, or blame each other, we didn’t take ourselves to seriously and we never for one moment assumed that it should be easier. It meant a great deal to me that he was able to be vulnerable about how he was feeling, and that he wanted to work together to keep this part of our relationship vital. That conversation was the first big one we had about sex, but it wasn’t the last, and we will need to keep talking and laughing over drinks from time to time so we can keep the spark alive. And hopefully we won’t only check in when things get rough, because even when things are good there is room for improvement (*wink*), and when times are good the pressure is off. It shouldn’t feel like torture. Communication can even be sexy! Take a deep breath, retain your sense of humor, and remember that you’re on the same team.

highfive

It’s true there should be magic, but the magic can’t be taken for granted. You need to work to maintain it. And nothing kills the magic like taking your partners body for granted, or feeling like they ‘owe’ you more than they’re giving. Sexual pleasure isn’t a right you automatically have in a relationship. It’s a gift that partners give to one another, through practice and empathy and consideration and enthusiasm and vulnerability and creativity and collaboration. If you aren’t getting it, you might wanna reflect on whether or not you are giving it.

beyass

peaches
it takes effort. nick names. lingerie. whatever works for you, plus enthusiasm. get ’em Bey.
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Bill O’Reilly on Beyonce: He’s an idiot

I usually try to ignore the comments of folks who troll for a living. Especially if those folks are also narcissistic ego-maniacal assholes on Fox.

billOgif

Be forewarned, his own sense of self importance will induce vomiting.  Any how, he is taking a shot at Beyonce and I can’t just stand by because his whole viewpoint is one that silences female sexuality and locates the source of a problem he claims to be concerned about in the wrong place.

bey-partition

Bill takes particular issue with the song Partition, which describes a consensual sex romp in a limo. With her husband. It’s hot. But Bill thinks that this grown woman expressing her sexual self in the context of a monogamous relationship is part of the problem young black women face. He even got into an argument with Russel Simmons about it (seriously?) He thinks she is to blame for the teen pregnancy epidemic, and he’s at it again claiming that she doesn’t care about young black women.

She knows, this woman knows that young girls getting pregnant in the African-American community now, it’s about 70% out of wedlock. She knows, and doesn’t seem to care… that’s my problem with her.

Hm, I wonder if Bill has considered actually asking her about how she feels about this issue… nah, making assumptions is better for rating. FYI, teen pregnancy rates are actually on the decline, although racial disparity does still exist. He also mentions that young people with out parents are particularly at risk when exposed to the content of her music and videos.

beyoncesideeyeGIF

Let me start with the obvious: artists do not have a responsibility to raise anyone’s kids. Absent parents cause their kids to be vulnerable to outside influences, not pop stars. She made an album that was true to herself and where she is in her life: she is a WOMAN, over 30, married and a mother. Many have pointed out that she is pop cultures biggest advertisement for marriage, and that is certainly true. But the fact that she is married and still criticized for being too sexual is extremely telling. Because what it really means it that no woman, anywhere, at any time in her life, is allowed to be in control of and vocal about her sexuality. The virgin/whore dichotomy is in full effect. Bill claims there is nothing empowering happening here, but he is both ignorant and not listening. First of all, how the fuck would he know what is empowering to young women? He’s so personally involved in the lives of young black girls that he can speak for them?

doubt it.
doubt it.

But his focus on this one song/video, the most sexual on the album arguably, are very telling. He is reducing her work as an artist to this one aspect of her expression, when in fact there are other less sexualized elements that are also deeply empowering for her fans. Like featuring a prominent Nigerian/author feminist on her track (***Flawless). Or writing songs that laud female empowerment outright(Grown Woman/Who Run the World).

grown-woman

All of this nonsense is meant to distract us from one important fact: the teen pregnancy epidemic actually has nothing to do with Beyonce. It’s about access, to education and health care. And young black girls don’t have a lot of access to either. In fact, if Bill and his friends had their way, no young women would. Beyonce and her hubby just announced a summer tour, and $1 from every ticket sold is going to his foundation to help underprivileged kids access higher education. What is Bill doing for the youth? Particularly the young black females he is claiming to care so much about?

haterz

Yonce hasn’t responded to Bill. And why would she? She is aware of the reach and impact that she has. She is aware that as a black woman this kind of criticism is going to be leveled at her. She went ahead and made her record anyway, on her own terms and with her own take no prisoners release plan. She explored her personal, intimate relationships, knowing that women will always be criticized when their sexuality is deemed as threatening. Bill’s comments show a fundamental denial to acknowledge how culture is actually working, and at it’s heart it’s misogynist and mean. Which isn’t surprising. I just can’t stand by and let people hate on Bey! This album is, still, everything.

 

What the Spice Girls Taught Me About Feminism (How #girlpower leads to #flawless)

I woke up from some pretty vivid dreams last night with a Spice Girls lyric in my head. And so, naturally, I used my precious iPod Nano to plug into some nostalgia on my commute. As always, once those 90’s pop tunes started playing in my ears, I wondered to myself Why the fuck did you ever stop listening to this glorious music?

spicewavingGIF

You know guys, I know the 90’s were a frivolous time. And it would be easy to dismiss this group as frivolous. But that’s a huge mistake. These ladies were a global phenomenon, and for an elementary age kid like me they were PERFECTION. They were true role models in my formative years, with delicious pop tunes and a huge campy movie and one very simple message/catch phrase: Girl Power! And you know what, it doesn’t take much to plant the seed of an idea in a child’s head. That phrase stuck with me, as did their message of fun and friendship. They may not have been perfect feminist icons (cause really, who is?) but they felt so fresh and free.

spicegirlsmakeup

First of all, they had those probably completely contrived personalities, which meant you could definitely relate to one of them. I loved Ginger. She was sassy, sparkly, and loud. Emma was for the cutesy girls, Posh for the fashion obsessed, and then Mel B for the black girls and Mel C for the budding athletes and/or lesbians. Something for everyone! Maybe they weren’t super dynamic, but whatever. We were 8. Their image was campy, over the top, tongue in cheek and timely.  Once you knew which Spice Girl you were going to idolize forever, of course the only logical thing to do was bond with 4 other girls to round out your group of singing, dancing, globe trotting future pop stars.

zigazigahGIF
what i really really want

Which reminds me. The most important lesson these ladies taught me was about female friendship. Their first hit Wannabe is an assertive but not too aggressive list of demands. You have got to give. If you want my future, forget my past. Now you know how I feel. Say you can handle my love. The message was basically take me on my terms or leave. It was a breezy, silly, slumber party anthem. And the most iconic lyric, the crux of it all: If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. How revolutionary is that idea!! It sets up a hierarchy in your life, where your friends come first and your lovers second. And sure, maybe that isn’t and shouldn’t be true at all times in your life, but shouldn’t it be true for us all as young-ins? Before shit gets real? After all, your friends are the ones who will accept and love you for who you really are (whichever Spice personality that is), through all the years when you’re confused and stumbling and naive and not-yet-formed. They’re your core, your support, your stage mates. They’re the ones you harmonize with.

spicewalkingGIF

When I was listening to or pretending to be the Spice Girls, I was in a girl only zone. It felt amazing to have something that was just for me and my girlfriends. And sure, they dressed pretty sexy and mostly feminine, but you just didn’t feel like it was for boys. I know there is a lot of exposed midriffs, but damnit this was the 90’s! They  mostly dressed to fit into the very marketable boxes they’d created, and blah blah blah I know that’s phony & feigned & faked but WHO CARES! They made me feel like I should dress to express myself and dance because I wanted to. Boys just didn’t enter into it.

newspicegirlsGIF
seeing them on tour in my 20’s was a life affirming nostalgia fest

I’m not saying the whole world should be this way, or that girls rule and boys drool (although, yea, kind of.) But for young girls, so much of the world seems off limits. I think it’s super important to have spaces that are special for them, where  they feel safe and free. And I think the message that you can be who you are without worrying about boy friends/lovers/whatever is super empowering. You know, you don’t have to make it perfect or complicated for kids. They absorb a lot without us even knowing, and what they hear at a young age sticks and matures along with them. Girl Power, as basic as it is, is enough. Sure it’s not nuanced, but it’s a good place to start!

spicegirlpowerGIF

Oh, and one last thing. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that the Spice Girls opened up some space in the pop universe for girl super groups. Their success, I believe, was a direct pre-curser to Destiny’s Child. Which means that without the Spice Girls, we wouldn’t have Beyonce. And if anyone is pushing some mature and nuanced feminism right now, it is Queen Bey herself. So Viva Girl Power Forever, never give up on the good times with your surfburt, and if you can’t dance you can’t do nothing for me cause friendships never ends and we all woke up like this.

flawlessGIF

The Alliterative Campaign I Really Want to Like: #BanBossy

Listen, anything that Beyonce does I just want to rave about. Especially if she is using her considerable voice to point her legions of fans towards feminist issues. But I have what I can only describe as very mixed feelings about her collabo with Sherly Sandberg and their latest PSA to #BanBossy:

I mean, when she says “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss”, I get chills and pump my fist. But…

But. I’m not sure this is quite the best way to address this issue. After reading a whole bunch of intelligent pieces on this campaign, I think I’ve got my own thoughts in order on why this isn’t a slam dunk.

missed-dunk

One camp of folks thinks we should encourage girls to be bossy, instead of banning the term. The actual definition of bossy is ‘fond of giving people orders, domineering.’  Not exactly an endearing trait. I don’t think we should encourage anyone to be bossy. Then we will have a whole generation of corporate CEO type assholes, and I don’t see that as a positive step. (This echoes one reason some people weren’t enthused about Lean In, because it encourages women to conform to the patriarchal corporate system instead of making a new system that works better for more people. Valid.)

thatthrillsmeGIF
More of this?

Now, assertive is maybe a better choice of word. We should encourage young women to be assertive. I have no issue with that idea at all. But banning the word bossy doesn’t really help us encourage girls to do anything. Restricting words doesn’t empower girls or teach them anything about self confidence or being true to themselves. Overall, I think it would be more prudent to encourage everyone to think a little harder before using the word (would I be using this word if she were a boy? why is this word appropriate in this situation?) rather than just banning it. Because if a small person is being bossy, we should for sure call them out. But only if it’s a warranted observation and not a gender based insult.

take a second and think
take a second and think

So I don’t think restricting language is the answer, but I’m also not advocating reclamation. What I really would like to see is a campaign that says ‘Be yourself, you are enough.’ Because the truth is, not all women are ‘bosses.’ And you know what, not all boys and men are bosses. Some people are leaders, and some are not, and that’s completely fine. We need to work towards a feminism that will advocate for everyone. I think Lean In is very smart and articulate, but it’s only aimed at a small contingent of women. What about women who want more of a work life balance, and men who want paternity leave? Why not campaign for a federal family leave minimum and a greater variety of work hours/telecommuting options?

not everyone can perform preggo at the vma's, give birth and come back swingin/collaborating w/ their life partners. just sayin
not everyone can perform preggo at the vma’s, give birth and come back swingin/collaborating w/ their life partners. just sayin.

Or if you really wanna stick to this whole leadership track (which totally is a valid track because there is a very real female leadership deficit!) why not campaign for school programs that teach leadership skills for girls, or for schools to teach feminist theory in their curriculum? Why not talk about which books we can give girls with relatable heroines, and how we can get teenagers focused away from Twilight/boys and towards realizing they are worth more than their physical beauty?

More of this.
More of this.
And of this!
And of this!
LESS of this. Ugh.
LESS of this. Ugh.

Why not feature this dope chick in your PSA, and let girls be inspired by this realness:

The women featured in the #BanBossy video are just so great. They are successful. They are confident. And they are lending their voice towards an issue that I’m sure affected them as girls and in their early careers. But why can’t they use their considerable reach and resources to create a campaign with a more concrete goal? I’m a writer, so I understand that words absolutely matter. But banning or reclaiming a hurtful word isn’t going to solve the over arching issue. I can use the terms ‘bitch’ or ‘cunt’ playfully and say I’ve reclaimed them, but that doesn’t take away their power in the wrong hands and it sure as shit doesn’t solve the overall problem of our sexist, misogynist culture. I wish they had a plan that was less hashtag-able and catchy, and more results oriented.

sadsigh

That being said, the campaign has started a conversation, and gotten people talking about this issue. And any feminist agenda item getting lots of air and page time is a win. So is the fact that recognizable faces are showing support of this idea, and to that end I must return to Beyonce. There is no such thing as a perfect feminist, and the debates around her feminism are lively and important. But I really do think that this kind of mega star, a black woman/wife/mother/mogul, being outspoken about her personal feminism, is absolutely epic and a major step forward (away from other’s who deny the label.)

beyoncehairflip

So while I think #BanBoss is catchy and well intended but ultimately kinda weak, I’m still happy to see this campaign and happy to see these ladies working together and happy to see feminism getting a positive shout out. The more we shine a light on the variety of issues our younger sisters face, the more we can help them grow into the strong, capable, unique women they will become.

amen

Here’s to the next generation of leaders, artists, mothers, teachers, students, performers, writers, readers, thinkers, athletes, creators, dreamers, movers and shakers. I hope we continue to support them and push the world to be a safer place for them (and all of us) to thrive.

JGL: Comes Out as Feminist ! (GASP!)

We all remember Joseph Gordon Levitt.

Yes.
Yes.

Child Star treasure. Teenage heartthrob.

This movie stands the test of time.
This movie stands the test of time.
Precious.
Precious.

We remember collectively experiencing shock and awe while watching Inception, thinking ‘When did Joseph Gordon Levitt turn into such a MAN?! And is this real or in a dream???!!!’

That hair. That vest. That jawline. Em. Yes.
That hair. That vest. That jawline. Em. Yes.

Well, he’s officially blown my mind again by going on Ellen and boldly claiming the title feminist.

If lip synching on Jimmy Fallon didn’t already have me swooning, this sure did. I mean, it shouldn’t be such a huge deal, but we still live in a world where celebrities are avoiding the title feminist like it’s a fucking plague. And to have JGL in our camp, we’ll that’s just unreal. He is handsome, smart, majorly talented, funny and cool. People think he is a cool guy, a nice guy, a guys guy. It’s still the case that many people align with feminist goals and values but don’t use the word. Maybe even some of you. But let’s use the simple and wonderful definition from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (that Beyonce features in her song ***Flawless!) “Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” When you break it down like that, it’s hard to understand why more people don’t come aboard. Or, is it?

He gets it.
He gets it.

The media has done a lot of work to paint feminists as angry, man-hating, fun-sucking, ever so serious and ever so hairy ladies. This is basically false, other than sometimes being angry (because some aspects of our culture should make us all angry) and hairy (because everyone has body hair… duh.) One day, I envision young pop starts and box office busting actors saying ‘Yea, of course I’m feminist! [insert charming joke here.]’ Because it’s not really radical to want a world where people are treated like people first, and where women and men don’t treat each other like separate species.

Tie. Vest. Tousled hair.
Tie. Vest. Tousled hair.

A few years ago there was this article in the New York Times Magazine about how women’s issues were the moral issue of this century. I still believe that, and I think we are going to need more brave folks like JGL to step up and speak out about their feelings, and to wear the feminist badge proudly. If JGL, all charm and coiffed hair and vests, can claim the badge and retain his like-ability and cool factor, there is hope yet.

One more. Because I can.
One more. Because I can.

Mommy Rules: Magazines

Ah, motherhood. A state of being so fraught with cultural meaning and weight, it’s a monolithic symbol that’s been constructed and reconstructed since the freakin’ dawn of time. And I think it’s fucking great. I think that women being able to sustain two lives with one body is absolutely the coolest thing in the whole wide world. (You can read more about that here.)

I am officially at the point in my life where I have lots of wedding and baby shower announcements in my newsfeed. Eek. One of my very best friends, we’ll call her Belle,  is preggo with what will I’m sure be smart/sassy/talented/epically gorgeous little girl whom I will always call sugar bean. I am excited and jealous and absolutely cannot wait to start teaching that precious child all the tricks of the trade. Belle has been sending me weekly belly photos, which make me long to be there, and also keeping me abreast of some of the nonsense that happens when you are visibly pregnant. With her permission, I’m gonna share some of those stories in an ongoing new series: MOMMY RULES.

Here are some dope Mom’s:

THAT. FACE.
THAT. FACE.
Powerful, resilient, and raised one smart cookie!
Powerful, resilient, and raised one smart cookie!
Oh, this is my mom. She is holding the orchid i got her for mother's day and wearing a pin with a baby pic of me. Precious.
Oh, this is my mom. She is holding the orchid I got her for mother’s day and wearing a pin with a baby pic of me. Precious.

Obviously there are too many dope mom’s to list, and that list would overlap a whole lot with my ‘dope women’ list, obviously.  So this series is dedicated to all the dope ladies who are also moms out there. And to sugar bean (love you already boo bear!)

Our first story takes place in a maternity store (photos not edited, please excuse touch screen spelling errors!):

wifeytext1

After making a purchase, Belle was offered a choice between 2 magazines: Parenting and the Top 150 Cupcake Recipes of 2013. She hates baking. She was immediately offended and outwardly irritated.

wifeytext2

The magazines themselves lived up to her expectations.

wifeytext3

wifeytext4
Ov.

I think my main concern with her story (other than the poor sales person on the receiving end of her anger LOL) is that Parenting magazine seems like it would be more accurately named Mothering, or Parenting for Women. I shudder to think of the variety of stories written whose main function is to make women feel insecure and inferior. It sounds like the main theme is ‘You’re doing it wrong!‘ Your choices, your post baby body, your relationships. I mean good lord, how are women supposed to get their kids fed and clothed between the constant bouts of anxiety and their obsessive worrying about doing it right and looking perfect to boot?!

And the cupcakes? Do I even need to say it? The assumption that ‘all mother’s must know how to and enjoy (or at least fake enjoy) baking’ is insane. Because mothers are, what I like to refer to as, people. And people, generally, are all super complicated and unique, with lots of different interests and passions. And being good at baking is not a pre-requisite for being a human, or for being a mom. The above mentioned Kristin (hey boo!) is an excellent baker and colleague/bestie of Belle’s, and it’s great that she loves to bake and has a side gig and lots of talent! We love that! But that’s not all mother’s… or all women… or all people. However, people have lots of opinions on how mother’s should act, and because we revere mother’s and give them all kinds of status, we also feel as though we can criticize and critique their behavior. This is often done publicly, face to face, with no remorse or embarrassment. These magazine offerings are a kind of critique, and while Belle felt angry because the choices were limited and stupid, my anger extends to the fact that the choices offered were also a judgment on the perceived behaviors of the store’s clientele.

So mom’s beware. You are being watched, judged, and held accountable.

But hey, at least it’s not the late 50’s…

preggosmoking
Ah, smoking while pregnant. Those were the days…

‘Yonce All On His Mouth Like Liquor ;

First post back and I’m about to go hard about what has already been well tread territory for a few weeks now: the goddess Beyonce and her surprise new album. Lots of people, especially the feminist media, have weighed in, and now it’s my turn to add to the convo.

Here’s the thing about this album. We could talk about how brilliant it is to drop it with no notice (because she is BEYONCE and needs no introduction), to create a visual for each song because she understands how visual the current technology driven culture is, how those videos further give her control over her image and brand (a control which she is often criticized for, but which I think is incredible and empowering), and how generally savvy this move was.

But that’s not why I’m so hype.

We could argue about how enraged I become at some of the criticism leveled her way. That she is too cold and controlling, when a woman so completely in control of her public image is actually quite a slap in the face to patriarchy and the male-controlled music industry at large. That she doesn’t write her own songs, and so she is an ‘entertainer’ not an ‘artist’. First of all, she does write. Second of all, writing songs vs performing as the marker of true artistry is a completely arbitrary distinction. It is not the case that one is more authentic or difficult than the other, and to say so reeks of all kinds of weird prejudices.

But I’m not here to argue. I’m here to talk about why we should all be amped about this release.

I’m hype because she continues to be a dominant female force in a world where many females, even if they seem dominant, and largely puppet-ed and exploited. I’m hype because she is a black woman creating a cultural moment that is undeniable, demanding of our attention, a show of total strength, control, and confidence.

And I’m hype most of all because this album is dripping with sex. But its not the kind of sex we usually see. When you look at other sex kittens of our time, from Brit Brit to Katy and even Tay Tay (though her whole appeal and genre are in a different category), the sexuality that is created and consumed is strikingly adolescent. These are images of young girls, who even when they are no longer teenagers cling to that aesthetic. Katy prances around amongst candy, with huge innocent eyes and lyrics about ‘teenage dreams.’ Brit came to rise in a school girl outfit and continues to wear skimpy clothes without convincing anyone that she is enthused about it (or about making music in general.) The music is about flirting, about boys and first love mistakes. And I like it. But this is the only kind of sexuality we are shown in pop culture, and it is stunted. Even Taylor, who I would argue pulls no punches and speaks truthfully about her experiences (which she is criticized needlessly for) is still talking about young love. She doesn’t really come off as in control. And there is never real talk about what women want, sexually, from men. It’s all batting our eyelashes and wondering what he’s thinking and does he like me and am I good enough and I’m totally the best girl for you look at how shiny and fun I am! To be fair, the portrayals of male sexuality are not any better (BLURRED LINES UGH) but that’s another topic for another day. This body of work that Beyonce has created is a different kind of sexy. She is a woman. A woman over 30. A mother. A wife, to a black rap icon/mogul. And she is at the peak of her sexiness. And she is owning it. This is nothing less than completely revolutionary. Sure, you may say, she is still trying to be beautiful and fits mostly within the confining and un-diverse beauty standards we force on women. But this isn’t entirely true. Her body isn’t typical, the variety of looks she can pull off isn’t typical, and the use of feminist voice overs and unapologetic strength while still being almost painfully sexy is not typical. Unlike the other ladies I’ve mentioned, there is nothing girlish about her. Her demands, and her ass(ets) are undeniable, forceful, and unapologetic. Complaining because she still looks amazing is to ignore the fact that she is still trying to sell a product in an industry whose main currency is image. But she is EXPLOITING this. She controls her image in a way that artists like Miley only claim to do. I don’t believe for a second that Miley feels totally in control of her career, her body, or her image. She is a kid making mistakes and trying to find herself, and that’s fine. But when the feminists come to her rescue against the slut-shamers while ignoring the ways that taking your clothes off is still problematic and so is appropriating black culture, they are missing the point. Beyonce lets you hear Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie define feminist in the song Flawless. Are you listening? (Ok I can only find the preview which doesn’t have the voice over cause she HANDLES HER CONTENT so enjoy)

 

 

That voice, over the image of her dancing fiercely and declaring herself flawless from the moment she wakes, is a fucking powerful statement. Moreover, her sexuality in the context of her marriage is extremely powerful. White feminists aren’t seeing the whole picture when she deride her for using the ‘Mrs Carter’ name. Black woman are statistically less likely to get married, and live in a world that portrays them as animalistically/dangerously sexy, single mothers, or as raising other people’s kids. You can’t separate her identity as a woman from her identity as a black woman, and in this context her marriage and motherhood are powerful cultural symbols. They don’t symbolize settling or limiting herself, which is crazy to even say BECAUSE FUCKING LOOK AT HER. She is at the top of her game. This is not a case of internalized misogyny or a lack of self awareness. She knows exactly who she is, and to come out with this album as a married women demanding to be idolized, fantasized about, and satisfied by her man, is so amazing and sex positive that I can hardly watch the videos without exploding from joy. This is truly a woman claiming and in control of her sexuality and sex life. Watching other artists prance around scantily clad and claiming to feel empowered looks silly after seeing this album. Hearing stunted claims like ‘Oh I got what you want, I got what you need’ is laughable after watching her expose herself, and be vulnerable, while demanding satisfaction. This is the kind of sexuality I want to see more of, and it should be celebrated. It is bold, and brave. It’s  fierce. She is setting a new standard for black female sexual empowerment, and we should all take note, listen, and admire. After all, she demands it.