Originally Published in the May 2013 Issue 7 of "The Mainsheet"
As I opened my laptop to diligently start my homework, not intending to lollygag or waste time on Facebook of course, I came across an article on the seemingly immaculate Beyonce Knowles.
Married to one of the greatest rappers of our generation, a new mom with an adorable baby girl quirkily, but creatively, named Blue Ivy, and hit after hit after her groundbreaking girl group Destiny’s Child days, I clicked to read more about one of my favorite pop culture icons.
Queen B, as her fans affectionately call her, is often regarded as a feminist icon of sorts.
Her girl power anthems “Run the World (Girls),” “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” and “Irreplaceable” ooze a strong female prowess that demands equal respect and attention in the cut throat music world.
Instead of just singing about broken hearts and failed relationships (hmm Taylor Swift), Beyonce’s songs range from powerful ballads and divalicious dance beats. So I could not help but be surprised when I saw the heading: “Beyonce Announces “The Mrs. Carter World Tour.” What? Mrs. Carter World Tour? Let me explain my surprise.
How could such a powerful, independent, strong female role model name her world tour after her husband when she is so respected and admired in her own right? Yes, I love Jay-Z as much as the next rap obsessed sixteen year old girl but, I could not help but feel saddened and slightly angry that Beyonce who is so famous that she is simply known by her first name decided to put her new accomplishment under her husband’s name instead of her own.
It might not seem like a big deal but I felt like Beyonce was diminishing her own success and hard work. “Who run the world?” Beyonce called out in one of her smash hits off her new album “4”? “Girls.”
Then B, why is your world tour not called Mrs. Beyonce Knowles? Why doesn’t Jay-Z call his world tour Mr. Knowles? Is there some overt sexism at play here? And why do I care so much?
“How we’re smart enough to make these millions. Strong enough to bear the children. Then get back to business,” was one of my favorite song lyrics of the year. I felt like this wave of feminism, female empowerment and change was even taking hold in mainstream music with Beyonce’s help. “The man’s world” mentality seemed to be diminishing with the Billboard success of women like Adele and Katy Perry transforming the charts to be almost gender equal.
With women like Sheryl Sandberg facilitating discussions about modern feminism and the root causes of inequality in the workplace, and brave young women across the globe like Malala Yousufzai from Pakistan standing up to the Taliban’s attempt to prevent girls’ education, girls running the world seemed possible.
Beyonce’s tour name, while perhaps insignificant to some, was symbolic to me. In a world that often puts girls in boxes, stifles their creativity, and offers unequal and unfair opportunity compared to their male counterparts (women earn just 77 cents to a man’s dollar for the same quality and kind of work), I wanted, no I needed Beyonce to be her own person, not Mrs. Anybody.
Maybe I was expecting too much. Beyonce is in fact a singer and entertainer, not a tried and true feminist. But I saw Beyonce as a female role model: a successful woman in a man’s world.
As Eve Ensler, playwright, and speaker of an incredible TED Talk called “The Girl Cell,” so eloquently said, “You don’t tell the Atlantic Ocean to behave.” The Atlantic Ocean she meant was the power of girls. So Beyonce, I am not telling you how to behave. You have every right to name your tour whatever you want. But I challenge you and other women of power to ponder this: What’s wrong with using your own name?
Photo Courtesy of http://www.palzoo.net/Beyonce