Beyonce’s new song “perfect hurts,” is great! Perfect does hurt. But watching the video that goes along with the song, it seems that this is exactly what she’s selling. She’s a beautiful woman who is larger than life to young and old women alike, and through the camera lens she looks perfect.
She’s also selling something else. She’s gyrating, touching herself, crawling, pouting, licking her lips. She’s wearing stripper outfits and performing stripper moves. In some sense, you could almost say she’s asking you to like her body and pay her money, just like strippers. She’s stripping for the world.
Women like Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Myley Cyrus and Beyonce can wear or not wear whatever they like and use their body to express their sexuality in what are basically harmless ways. The question is, what are the young impressionable minds who are influenced by these women telling themselves?
There needs to be a countered stable voice in every young woman’s life that tells her how to set personal boundaries and to live every day with some sense of body safety and respect if for no other reason than to protect herself from predators. There needs to be a countered stable voice to let her know that her sexuality is beautiful and valuable and doesn’t need to be on display for everyone.
The real elephant in the room is that many of us women, if we’re honest, want to be admired. We want to feel beautiful and sensual, perhaps even tease. It’s fun. Or at least it can be—if done safely and respectfully. We’re born natural, playful, sensual, and sexual. The dialog shouldn’t be whether Beyonce is empowering women to be feminists, the dialog should be around personal boundaries and the love of body for one’s self. Unless girls and young women have strong role models who realistically talk about self-love and respect, they may misinterpret the messages these stars are sending to mean that overt sexuality is the way to personal power—and love.
The 30 second clip I saw of Beyonce’s “Haunted” video reminds me of Madonna’s, 1990 “Justify my Love” video. I was impressionable in my late twenties when I saw it. Just like her, I wanted to be perfect, bold, empowered and to use my body. And I did. It took me a long time to figure out that sex, while feeling good, is independent of love and that love feels pretty hollow when not connected to love.
Beyonce’s lyrics from one of her new songs is, “I’m a grown woman, I can do whatever I want.” She’s right. She is! She can! Owning your body can be—is—empowering—when done in a way that is safe as well as fun and respectful. Young women need a countered stable voice telling them this truth too.
Not too long after hearing the discourse surrounding Beyonce’s new music and videos, I heard one of Adele’s hits on the radio. Through her soulful voice, her heart and message was delivered in melodic meaning that touched my own heart. I can’t imagine Adele dancing and strutting for the world like Beyonce did. She doesn’t have to. Adele has real power.