There is a longer more fleshed out essay on BEYONCÉ in the works, (which probably won't be published until next week at this rate) but in rewatching King Bey's magnum opus, I have been uncovering gem after gem of naked feminist ideology, and I can't get enough.
The latest little gem I found is this subversive little quote cleverly inserted in French into Partition, a song about Bey getting it on with Jay Z in the back of a limo on the way to the club:
"Est-ce que tu aimes le sexe? Le sexe, je veux dire l'activité physique, le coït, tu aimes ça? Tu ne t'intéresses pas au sexe? Les hommes pensent que les féministes déstestent le sexe mais c'est une activité très stimulante et naturelle que les femmes adorent."
The above roughly translates to:
"Don't you like sex? Sex. I mean sex, the physical activity. Fucking. You like that? You're not interested in sex? Men think feminists don't like sex, but it's a very fun and natural activity that women love."
So... can we please talk about this? Beyoncé is revealing some truths here.
This year, there was a lot of discussion of Beyoncé's feminism; or more precisely whether or not mainstream (read: white) feminism deemed her feminist enough. Short answer? They didn't, and a lot of that criticism, was directly related to the fact that Beyoncé's image is consistently and deliberately very sexy and sexual.
(White) Feminism claimed that Beyoncé was not an adequate role model because"[...] variations of Beyonce's body suit can be found in brothels, strip clubs, and red light districts across the world - where sex is for sale and it happens to be dispensed through a woman's body."
You read that right. Beyoncé's costumes are the equivalent to those that sex workers wear. Clearly their proximity to the sex work of women (who are disproportionately of colour, mind you) makes them inherently bad. Because reasons. Or something.
In any case, the reason I wanted to highlight this quote is because of the way she consciously intermingles her feminism with her sexuality. Partition has references to Jay Z... *ahem*...Monica Lewinsky-ing, on Beyoncé's gown, and to her going down on him in the backseat of a car. And then she drops this quote. In other words, she can be both sexual and a feminist. They are not mutually exclusive.
And we haven't even touched on the very racialized nature of the criticisms that Beyoncé received in the first place. Because while Bey was being reprimanded for posing in her underwear, Miley "Black-Women-Are-Props-For-My-Comeback-Album" Cyrus, was being hailed as a feminist icon. You're deluding yourself if you don't acknowledge that the difference in coverage is directly related to their difference in race.
As I've talked about before, the conversation surrounding black women and sexuality is always coloured by the historical context in which black women's bodies were used against their will; a direct result of their perceived lack of humanity due to their blackness. Because of these ideas, we're stuck with the Jezebel stereotype of inherent and uncontrollable black female sexuality. With this song, Beyoncé has done two things: reclaim her sexuality on her own terms and directly negate the misconception that feminism and sex are incompatible.
By embracing her sexuality; explicitly detailing her kinks and fantasies, she demonstrates that there is nothing uncontrollable about it. Her sexuality is deliberate and fully within her command, and she has every intent to use it as she sees fit; in this case, to pleasure her man (and by extension, herself).
As a black woman myself, this message is powerful to me. This is Beyoncé explicitly saying that there is nothing wrong with exploring your sexuality or your pleasure as a black woman. There's nothing shameful about it, and we should refuse to be ashamed of it. I have had people tell me directly that to consciously embrace my sexuality as a black woman is to reinforce the stereotype of hypersexuality. Which... is unfortunately exactly what less savvy minds will take away from this incredibly powerful political statement. Sex and feminism are not on opposite ends of a spectrum. They are related concepts that inform and influence each other in a myriad of ways.
Sexy Feminist King Beyoncé gets it.