Last night, Beyonce apparently put on quite the show at the Billboard Awards. This is not an awards show I watch (or remember exists), but it’s gotten so much attention that I checked it out.
I’ve never been a big Beyonce fan or a big Beyonce hater – I’ve always thought she had a solid voice and I liked that she wasn’t dropping lbs. in a rate directly correlated to her rise to fame. I have a couple songs, no albums; have taken cursory glances at her interviews, but was never really drawn in.
However. A few things popped into my mind this time around. The first and most obvious was, of course, that girls don’t run the world. By any stretch of the imagination, [especially] not here. This part has been dissected by bloggers and vloggers since her performance, so I just wanted to reiterate that point.
But this wildly off-base claim also made me think of two things near and dear to Beyonce’s heart. Her clothing line and her husband.
Remember when the ads for her company’s line of kids clothing came out, and there was an appropriate uproar? Let’s tackle this one first. This is not how girls should dress:
Those are not natural little girl poses. Look at the stiffness of the stance of the one in the red, glittered heels. Frankly, she also looks a bit confused. To me, this kind of pedophilic sexualization, promotion and presentation of small young girls, encouraging them to be seen as someone ready for a life and experiences a decade before they are developmentally capable of understanding what those experiences mean, is scary and very risky. Here is how I see them in ten years:
Or, if not yet pregnant:
If I am not mistaken, she is not running the world. If I recall correctly, she’s had a few public breakdowns and made more than a few startlingly poor life decisions. Which I feel pretty sure had something to do with how she raised and managed. And she wasn’t even dressing like Beyonce’s kiddies (though she as encouraging dudes to hit her one more time, which may have had something to do with her outcome), this is how she looked at 16:
Here is a picture of someone I see as actually ruling the world:
Aaand, here’s another:
I could be wrong. But I don’t think they were doing or wearing the same things when they were 8 years old as Britney and the toddlers-in-tiaras in training in the Dereon ad. They were probably doing things that got them into and prepared them for Wellesley, Princeton, and Yale. That then prepared them for the careers that launched these two superstars into actually ruling the world. A different path than girls who…I don’t know, rule the catwalk?
Now we can address Jay-Z. This will be quick. But, for as much as she loves herself some Jay-Z, I feel pressed to ask Beyonce how these girls can rule the world if her hubby keeps dismissing them as bitches, as problems to be “dealt with,” even if he does concede that they aren’t one of his 99. Just to make sure that’s hammered home, you are really into girls running the world, but your husband thinks they’re bitches, sees “2 Many Hos” as a real hindrance to his big pimpin’ lifestyle, instead of seeing, as exemplified above, seriously brilliant folks who have a shitload of skills to offer and should be looked at as partners in progress. But Jay-Z is more on this side: “Catch me in the parkin’ lot / Hollerin’ at bitches, parkin’ lot pimpin’.” (As an aside, pimping them out is also not the best way to prep girls for ruling the world.)
Also, while I don’t think lying about the current state of girls and women’s leadership is the way to change the status quo, I also don’t think championing one gender’s supremacy over the other as the ideal power dynamic is good – whether it’s all men or all women. Let’s shoot for striking a nice balance. Maybe have the rally cry of “Who Run the World – A Group of About 50% Women, 50% Men, Who Support Nationalized Healthcare and Public Education and the Funding of Social Programs That Benefit Even Those Who Don’t Run the World.”
Too political for pop, I know. But let’s try to avoid the “if we say it, it’s true” and “sex is power” and “girls are bitches and problems to be dealt with” roads as well.