As I understand it the word Feminism is copyrighted. It's just no one can remember who owns the copyright, meaning all kinds of women can weigh in on feminism and call themselves feminists, such as Louise Mensch, or ascribe feminism to women, such as tampon taxing (as in she taxed them as a luxury, not put them through an incredibly trying time) Maggie Thatcher or Mary Berry, when it is patently not true. Because they said so.
Beyonce, while not in the running for the next feminist thinker, recently identified as a feminist in the May issue of British Vogue. It's rare for a woman of colour to grace the cover of any American or European issue of Vogue but let's ignore that. Because everyone else is. LALALA. The bigger news is that Beyonce said the F word: "I guess I am a modern-day feminist."
In January of this year Hadley Freeman, one of the Guardian feminist writers (one of my personal favourites - if that is important) latched on to Beyonce's interview and accompanying photo shoot with GQ magazine. In that interview Beyonce had told GQ that: "Equality is a myth, and for some reason everyone accepts that women don't make as much money as men do...And let's face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value."
Freeman chose not to value that nugget of feminist thinking, preferring to focus on the skimpy GQ wardrobe: "I never fail to be amazed at the high profile, often A-list women who celebrate their professional success by posing near naked on the covers of allegedly classy men's magazines, such as Esquire and GQ..."
for her to gain the recognition as an artist compared to her male peers interests her.
The artist leaves us thinking is that a diluted form of feminism? Identifying as a modern day feminist is something I might do in order to distance myself from some second wave actions and beliefs. The Nigerian Tribune interprets Beyonce's choice of words as a distancing device: "Blatant double standard among women, coupled with the need to be separated from the stereotypical assumptions that feminist are headstrong, grumpy, frumpy, man-hating and lesbians seem very plausible for the declining of feminism. Hence, the need to coin a new phrase âmodern feminismâ whose badge would be easier to wear." Victory Oyeleke calls it a decline in feminism and a rise in womanism.
The Huffington Post sides with Salon in calling it "reluctant feminism", comparing Beyonce's quote with Katy Perry's "I am not a feminist" statement. However Beyonce, in her self directed and very controlled documentary Life is but a Dream (terrible title â does that make it unfeminist? No, just one I would not choose) it's very clear she is a woman on a journey and this idea of what it takes, or took rather, for her to gain the recognition as an artist compared to her male peers is clearly something that interests her. Fine she's not the greatest with nuance but if I have to pick between dismissal and taking what I can get, I'll take what I can get.
I'd argue Beyonce certainly needs feminism. Even if we can't agree if her feminism is 'the right kind' or 'hesitant', which - incidentally - makes it sound a lot like we can't make room for her, I assure you there is plenty of feminism to go round. The Telegraph's review peculiarly sidesteps the incredible rehearsal footage in the documentary, notes the shrewd 'relaxed' interview and oddly polices what Beyonce can and can't share: "The real headline-grabbing scene was when BeyoncÃ© revealed that she had suffered a miscarriage two years previously. Was it tacky for her to open up about something so private? Perhaps..."
Well, I know questioning a woman's motives for discussing her miscarriage is certainly the classy thing to do.