Please Stop Emotionally Investing in Beyonce

If there’s one point I want to make today it’s that I’m sick of celebrity idealization. You know, the whole Beyonce is a feminist queen superhero thing. I don’t quite get it myself, partially because I’m not sure what’s so super about her brand of feminism, and partially because it seems like women always have a problem with her.

The same goes for other celebrities. Lena Dunham and Jennifer Lawrence are two of popular culture’s biggest feminist icons, and they too are slammed by feminist media for not adhering to certain rules. I think it’s wonderful that Dunham’s work challenges issues like body-shaming – her work should be celebrated. But to turn around and criticize her when she makes a choice we don’t like? Silly.

It’s great to see spunky and intelligent celebrities claim feminism as one of their goals. It’s enlightening to think that Dunham has pushed so many boundaries through Girls. But it’s not helpful to expect too much from them. 

Nothing epitomizes this more than Beyonce’s following. She is idealized, loved, worshipped, yet constantly under fire for acts that don’t adhere to the ‘icon’ status she’s been forced into. Yes, Beyonce is a feminist. But if we’re going to have an existential crises every time she’s accused of photoshopping herself is she really the leader we’ve been looking for?

Beyonce: Alleged Feminist Goddess.

Beyonce: Alleged Feminist Goddess.

I’ve read similar remarks about J-LAW: a celebrity who tries to break through the rigid boundaries of what is considered attractive in popular culture. Lawrence refused to lose weight for her role in The Hunger Games. She wanted her character to look strong and healthy, not merely thin, and this won her huge respect from women around the world. 

But does this act mean she’s an icon? That we should invest in her emotionally, and become disappointed when she lets us down? 

Jamila Rizvi, editor-in-chief at Mamamia, recently wrote about her disappointment in Amal Alamuddin for taking George Clooney’s last name. Rizvi obviously looks up to Alamuddin, and no wonder. The woman is a lawyer, human rights advocate and international refugee. However, Rizvi was saddened to think that Alamuddin would allow herself ‘to be defined by her husband and his name.’

Clooney and Alamuddin. 

Clooney and Alamuddin. 

Now, whether or not taking your partner’s name is defining yourself through them is a completely different issue. In fact, it’s so entirely subjective it’s ridiculous. But Rizvi seemed to think that as a fellow justice fighter, Alamuddin should subscribe to the very same strain of feminism as she does. 

It’s the same as J-LAW’s nude photo leak (which I covered here) and the plethora of issues the public has had with Beyonce. We raise them up – inspired by a sense of comradeship – only to tear them down for a decision we don’t agree with. 

The fact is these women aren’t going to meet all our expectations. Yes, they embrace feminism and work towards a higher goal, but we can’t continue investing all our hopes and dreams in them. Feminism, justice, ethics – it’s all subjective once it gets to a certain level. Alamuddin obviously felt differently to Rizvi about changing her last name, and that’s totally okay. 

I’d really like to stop seeing articles about outraged and disappointed fans. I mean, really, these women didn’t ask for expectations they may not be able to – or want to – meet. By all means bask in the wonderment of a great feminist celebrity, just accept that they’re not you, and your beliefs most likely aren’t going to be completely aligned. We all have our own brand of feminism – perfectly tweaked for ourselves – and that’s totally okay. 

 

 

 

0 Comments

  1. Run The Word

    We believe you make an important point entrenched in the fourth-wave of Feminism- the way in which individualised identities can impact on opinions and ideas of feminism in popular culture and beyond. No feminist movement has ever been perfect just as no movement throughout history has and we believe you are right- instead of questioning and critiquing every move of these women who fight with their own brand of feminism we should celebrate and appreciate the way the are contributing to conversation, raising awareness and making change. Beyonce for instance has fought for gender equality beyond her VMA performance, something some people forget. She has written an essay for Shrivers report, made numerous statements on the matter and gives funds and is heavily involved with Chime for Change, an important contemporary women’s initiative. Her journey and balance in life is also something to us that displays a modern day feminist- she is empowered to be a mother, working woman, icon, humanitarian and individual that influences on a global scale. Like Beyonce many women are often critiqued for the way they express their brand of feminism but all elements if positive are valid: women should be able to show sexual liberation without being criticised just in the same manner as men do in the entertainment industry. Again Amal Clooney have the choice to change her name and should feel liberated to do so, feminism is all about allowing women choices, opportunities and liberation, not oppressing them through critique and slander. Instead of judging every move of these women, pinning women against each other and measuring how feminist they are, we should celebrate their positive contribution to the world around them and to fighting for equality.

  2. Ron Throop

    Thanks for following my work. I wanted to share a piece from my archive on Beyoncé as introduction. More about joy and art than any superstar. And, it might make you dance.
    https://throop4.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/welcome-suspicious-careerists-and-is-art-urgent/

  3. Zulfikar Fahd

    I really love how you write about it. Gonna share it in my social media :)

  4. Juana

    I completely agree!! I don’t really follow celebrity culture, but I think it’s bizarre how people idealize certain folks, and put them into some box of "absolutes" that is impossible for any human to fit.