If you’re worried about the future, you should know that the voice of reason in every “Is Beyoncé a good enough feminist?” debate has always been a teenage girl. A few months ago, Lorde shot down the accusation that Bey was using feminism as a trendy accessory. Today, Tavi Gevinson is defending one’s right to surfbort.
If you get the chance, I highly recommend reading Tavi’s entire interview with Emma Watson for Wonderland Magazine (Watson edited the issue, if you’ll remember, which is pretty awesome). It’s a goldmine of feminine badassery. In the meantime, allow me to guide you through the Beyoncé bit. First, Emma said this:
As I was watching [the visual album] I felt very conflicted, I felt her message felt very conflicted in the sense that on the one hand she is putting herself in a category of a feminist, but then the camera, it felt very male, such a male voyeuristic experience of her.
Yeah, a lot of people have been making that point, and even though it does smell quite a bit like white feminism, I think there’s some validity to it. While it’s not anyone else’s job to police her sexuality and decide whether or not it panders too much to men, there’s nothing particularly new or groundbreaking about a music video that puts male fantasies to film. Tavi, on the other hand, has a lot of great thoughts to add to the discussion:
Beyoncé is not perfect even though she is kind of a badass but I think it is very generous of her to work these things out publicly, to you know, have the songs that include the sample of like a Ted Talk about feminism. I think it is very generous of her to let us see her relationship to feminism publicly and I think that if we are being really nit-picky there are definitely contradictions, but I’m mostly just so thankful that album exists and for me it felt like real progress.
Right on. You can’t really look at this album that literally has spoken word feminist theory in it and come to the conclusion that the sexy costumes dilute the power of the message. You can’t really argue that Beyoncé’s sexual displays are lazy or unexamined when they live in the same album that samples Chimamanda Ngozi. I’m not saying she’s infallible just because she’s trying, but the degree to which she is obviously making an effort to end gender inequality makes me think that we should save the nitpicking for stars who aren’t making progress.
I’m so grateful that this discussion is happening to begin with, and that it’s being led by such smart, powerful women as these three. Tavi ends the conversation by saying that she just wants to be “a Beyoncé scholar” and “just talk about her all the time,” to which I say, “Yes. Yes please.”
Via The Cut / Photos: Getty images, VEVO