Independent women: Is Beyoncé exploiting the word ‘feminist’ for her marketing needs?Independent women: Is Beyoncé exploiting the word ‘feminist’ for her marketing needs?

Independent women: Is Beyoncé exploiting the word ‘feminist’ for her marketing needs?

Written by Sophie DiMauro on 13th Jul 2016

Feminist. Ideally a word that describes us all. Put quite simply, feminism is the fight for gender equality. How great a world would be where women were fully equal to men? So surely when celebrities like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lawrence embrace feminism for all it’s worth, we should be celebrating, right?

Critics are hailing Yoncé’s latest album ‘Lemonade’ as a revolutionary work of black feminism, a feature film with a direct and powerful message that is quite simply a work of art. A significant departure from her music in the past, this album is heavily loaded with connotations and political discourse, which have so cleverly placed the musical masterpiece at the centre of debate and admiration within the music industry.

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[Image credit: Instagram/@beyonce]

But even previous work from the self-proclaimed modern day feminist has put feminism point blank on the radar, with her 2013 album ‘Beyoncé’ featuring a quote from a TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, on why we should all be feminists.

Lyrics from Beyoncé’s songs include “I am the dragon breathing fire beautiful man I’m the lion”, “don’t think I’m just his little wife” and “this my shit, bow down bitches”. Whilst performing her single ‘Flawless’ at the MTV Video Music Awards back in 2014, the singer stood iconically in front of the word ‘Feminist’ in big, bold, capital letters, a stance that was then adopted throughout her Mrs Carter Show world tour.

In a recent interview with ELLE magazine, the Queen B herself acted as a voice for feminists. “Everyone who believes in equal rights for men and women doesn’t speak the same, or dress the same, or think the same,” she said.

“If a man can do it, a woman should be able to. It’s that simple.”

Beyoncé has gone from being a successful girl band singer, to being a global brand. The singer, songwriter, actress and entrepreneur has a grand total of 20 Grammy awards and 53 nominations, crowning her as the most nominated woman in Grammy history. Bey has performed at highly sought events, from the Superbowl to the presidential inauguration, and has even graced the Pyramid Stage at our very own Glastonbury Festival.

According to Forbes, the pop star is worth $265 million (£203 million), and still her empire continues to grow. At the tender age of eight, Beyoncé began her career, managed by her father, a top-notch IBM marketing executive.

So surely one would be fair in saying that when it comes to marketing, Team Beyoncé know exactly what they are doing.

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[Image credit: Instagram/@beyonce]

Her monetary success perhaps raises questions then, as to whether or not this queen of the music industry’s brand of feminism is somewhat hollow – simply a brilliant and carefully considered marketing strategy? Could Beyoncé be exploiting the word feminism? And if so, is it problematic to use such loaded terms?

Although songs from ‘Lemonade’ talk about forgiveness and love, Beyoncé is also vocal about her discontent towards men with lyrics from the album exclaiming “middle fingers up, put them hands high, wave it in his face, tell him, boy, bye”, “you ain’t married to no average bitch, boy” and “if you try this shit again you gon lose your wife”.

But is Bey simply taking her fans on her journey? And does her strength lie in her power to forgive, despite the hardships she talks about throughout her relationship? As we progress through her album, her songs talk about redemption and freedom. Is her message about independence and female empowerment, rather than female superiority?

In today’s society, overt feminism can sometimes garner a negative reaction, particularly on the internet. Although many men and women may support gender equality, they can be put off referring to themselves as a feminist because they find the connotations and misunderstandings surround the word confusing.

Feminism does not centre around hating men and the belief that it does is a misconception that is incorrect and needs to be eradicated. Everyone should be a feminist because feminism means equality. By Oxford dictionary definition, feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

Yet while Beyoncé uses political undertones and feminism throughout her work, she balances this with themes of independence, fame and formation. Although she still sends a strong message, she uses art and creativity to portray feminism in a direct yet digestible way.

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[Image credit: Instagram/@beyonce]

It’s a fact that women get paid less than men and although we’ve come a long way, sexism still exists in today’s society.

Yes Yoncé’s slayin’ may not be an idealistic form of feminism but anything that raises awareness on the issue in hand, whether it be a marketing device or not, is always going to be a good thing, right?

Maybe Beyoncé’s use of feminism is something that she’s not truly passionate about, but regardless of this, her power to influence the beliefs and values of today’s generations by getting them talking about feminism, is something to be admired.

 

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