Why Rationalizing Beyonce’s Sexuality Is Setting Us Back 50 Years

Beyonce-Herring-and-Herring-2

It’s been almost two months since the release of Beyonce’s self-titled fifth studio album, and it is still in heavy rotation in my New Jersey abode. Each song connects to my ego, superego and id on another emotional plane unlike any of her previous artistic endeavors (and I’m a Beyonce fan to the death of me).

The beautiful way in which she offers insight into her psyche is what every critic and fan alike have been craving for the last 15 years: a private viewing into her humanity. For me, the fact that she comes across as so unapologetically brazen, and daring to curse as easily as I do in my everyday life makes me smile. My homegirl in my head is finally not concerning herself with being America’s Darling, and instead worried about simply being herself, and I am here for it. That’s not to say that she wasn’t always “herself,” but rather displaying a clean, watered version that was appealing to the masses and not traumatizing to her “role model” image.

Songs like “Blow,” “Partition” and “Rocket” make me want to upgrade my bedroom technique so I can “Rocket ’til waterfalls (or Rock it ’til water falls. Play on words children, play on words).”

But as with all things, with praise comes significant scrutiny.

Beyonce’s “sexual liberation” on this album drew criticisms of her being “too sexy,” “trying too hard to keep up with the times” and utterly “classless.” Lifetime fans found themselves disturbed with the new direction in which their Shero was traveling while others (like me) saw this coming. I mean she’s been hinting at her sexuality forever. Lest we forget songs like “Naughty Girl,” “Speechless” and “That’s How You Like It” on her first solo production, “Kitty Kat” on B’Day, “Ego” on I Am…Sasha Fierce and “Dance For You” on 4, it was only a matter of time before the flashlight was directed on Bey Bey’s box.

And then there are others who pardon her so-called “raunchiness” because she’s a wife and mother now, and such sexual antics are excusable for a woman who’s giving up her goodies to one man for the rest of her life. “It’s okay for her to be this way because she has a husband,” said one of my friends upon our conversation after her opening performance at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards co-starring husband Jay Z. “I mean she’s getting sexy for her man, I see know problems with it,” said another. And as I sit back noting the frequency in which my friends so freely expressed their positioning on the subject, I began to feel a sickening feeling come upon me. These women, these beautiful, articulate, highly educated, driven, successful, independent women in 2014, still only deem their sexuality morally and socially acceptable so long as it’s dedicated to the man that “put a ring on it.” And if that is the commonplace perspective, then are we really free or have we just readjusted the scope? Are women really as sexually liberated as they think or are we still living the prudence of our foremothers?

Being the open book that  I am, I’m not ashamed to say I have always gone against the social zeitgeist that dictates what I should and should not do with my vagina. Last I recall, I came in this world with it, and I will leave this world with it, so whatever I choose to do with my God given piece of heaven is my business and to my choosing. I CHOOSE not to sleep with the entire world because, just like everybody doesn’t deserve to walk through the pearly gates, likewise do they not deserve to slip between my thighs.  Yet lots of my friends apparently do not see it the same. Maybe a little taste of the taboo of female sexuality has diminished, fact is a lot of women are still stuck in the 1950s. Sex is only for the reproduction of offspring. Sex is only for your husband. You’re a whore/loose/hoe/skank/skeezy/smut/thot  if you enjoy sex with whomever you’d like, however you’d like, whenever you’d like. But unlike our grandmothers’ era, in 2014, you can like sex in any of its forms so long as it’s with your spouse, and your spouse only. I mean, reproduction with your husband should at least be fun now, right?

What do you think? Are women really free to be whatever their sexy selves choose or are we still stuck in a patriarchal rut?

Now pardon me as I turn “Flawless.”

And for your viewing pleasure, here’s the fifth part of Beyonce’s documentary regarding her latest body of work reiterating my point:

Be Extraordinary- Alyssa Peacock

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Why Rationalizing Beyonce’s Sexuality Is Setting Us Back 50 Years

  1. *Note: I have not really listened to “Beyoncé.” So this comment is less about the content of the album and more about your criticism of the criticism.*

    Women have long been taught that chastity=worth. That’s because women used to be property— men (particularly your husband and your father/parent) literally have dominion over your body. People don’t realize it, but such ideas are still the core of many gender beliefs we hold today.

    I think sexuality, like many things, is doubly conflict-ridden at the intersection of Woman and Black. Because of largely external forces, we are not able to enjoy a sex-positive outlook as, say, young white women, or men or any color. I think many women of color, particularly Black women, are lovingly taught to be (and therefore sincerely and agreeably become) less sexually liberated because we have to counteract narratives that say we are “exotic,” “vixens,” “fast-ass girls,” “more mature than our age,” “hottentots” and the like. Underlining those narratives is the idea women labeled this way are desirable ONLY for sex, and are otherwise worthless. (I feel like Destiny’s Child lightly touches on these ideas in their song “The Story of Beauty”).

    Anyway, I don’t subscribe to these ideas but I get why women, Black women in particular, cling to them. There are real consequences to consider.

    For Beyonce, she had to play the America’s Sweetheart angle because she has goals of being an icon. You can’t become a Black female global icon if you are too sexual (see above). Honestly, part of the reason I don’t care very much for Beyonce is that she’s played so many angles that I can’t be sure who she actually is, and I get the sneaking suspicion she herself grapples with this question.

    In a perfect world, everyone would be allowed to do whatever the hell they wanted with their bodies and lives (with consent of course) and not have to answer to anyone but themselves (and maybe God) for it. We don’t live in that world. We live in a world that will at least judge you, and at worst kill you for not living within certain parameters.

    • I absolutely agree with your positioning, especially with “slut shaming” that occurs all too frequently in our community. Don’t be loose, don’t be a prude. Act your age, but be liberated. Women of color exist in the cross section of who we are told we are, who we are told we are not, who we are to aspire to become (by any means), and who we choose to be. Everyday is an internal conflict with avoiding playing into stereotypes while trying to be ourselves, which is why looking at the scope of who and what Beyonce is becomes such a fascinating challenge. In a lot of ways, her image grapples with everyday life.

      Sidenote: I had about six conversations with my friends about this album. Three were Black, two were White, one was Asian. All came back with the same outlook. What do you think about that?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s