HAH! Fooled you. We're still arguing, or exploring our feminism as I like to call it. Freeman has a problem with how gazillionaire Beyoncé presented herself on a GQ shoot. In tiny pants and fast unravelling top! Now, considering what's happened in the past week in feminism thanks to the same media group concerning transgender issues and transphobia, doesn't the question of hotpants or what side of your boobs you air in a magazine (and you can't not air your boobs in a magazine) seem a tad nitpicky?
Having indulged in that caveat, I don't think a woman wearing skimpy clothes in a magazine is such a huge feminist problem. Here is the real problem about Freeman's reaction to Beyonce's dress: Freeman is buying into the patriarchal idea that the less you wear the less worth what you say has. Women worrying over their collective voice being silenced by some mavericks in lipstick and a bra is often dismissed as school-marmish prudery or disapproval. It's not, there's power in pitting women against each other. Freeman is no prude. Or school-marm for that matter.
In her GQ interview Beyoncé uses her platform to discuss women's pay: “Equality is a myth, and for some reason everyone accepts that women don't make as much money as men do...I truly believe that women should be financially independent from their men. And let's face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value.” When someone as influential as Beyoncé actually delivers a feminist message, instead of distancing herself from women's lib, shouldn't we focus on that?
Beyoncé goes on to say tell GQ: “They [men] define what's sexy. And men define what's feminine. It's ridiculous.” Freeman believes this quote “complaining about men defining sexiness in a men's magazine” does not sit well next to the GQ photo spread “in which she poses nearly naked in seven photos, including one on the cover in which she is wearing a pair of tiny knickers and a man's shirt so cropped that her breasts are visible.”
Somehow what Beyoncé has said, that men and her female fans will read, is cancelled out apparently by the glimpse she gives us of her bosom. This in turn, I believe, rather cancels out the feminist reclaim the night chant: 'whatever we wear, wherever we go – yes means yes and no means no'. It is, in a way, slut shaming lite.
the less you wear the less worth what you say has
But that does not be extension disqualify Knowles from having a feminist opinion, an opinion that can change or become more nuanced over time. She was 21 when she sang Nasty Girl at 30 she sings that Girls Run the World and fan-girls over the First Lady Michelle Obama.
Any argument regarding a stylist or publicist dictating Beyoncé's wardrobe in the GQ shoot is unlikely to hold much weight. As Knowles says: “I'm more powerful than my mind can even digest.” She is very aware of the power she wields as a singer. And this is the most important thing with regard to Freeman's critique of her appearance in GQ.
Freeman rightly points out some A list women's choices seem a little surprising: “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...” The difference between some of these trussed up singers and actresses is that they often don't appear to be in control or having much fun. Knowles makes it very clear she could stop tomorrow, she could demand a different wardrobe or photographer (which, like Freeman, I wish she had) and if she wanted to, she would.
What Beyoncé is wearing and whether or not she looks sexy isn't something to get particularly riled about. Sexy being kind of her trademark, a voluptuous womanly sexiness I might add that is hard to find a problem with. It is knowing and mature, not the feigned ingénue look so many men's magazines seem to favour.
When we stop saying who can and can't be a feminist I think we will make the desired leap towards smooth running Freeman dreams of.