This is the last post in the Series ‘Why Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Beyoncé are NOT Role Models for Women?’ In the past two posts I discussed why Marilyn Monore and Madonna should not be considered as role models. Here, I am arguing why Beyonce Knowles-Carter should not be taken a role model as well.
BEYONCE KNOWLES: TALENT IN STRIP SUITES
No one can argue that Beyonce is a multi-talented entertainer. She writes her songs, sings, dances and has her own clothing line. She is a businesswoman, a wife and a mother.
Born in Huston, Texas in 1981, Beyonce Knowles started singing at an early age. She became popular as the lead vocalist in the R&B group Destiny’s Child. The all-female band released their first album in 1997.
In 2003 Beyoncé released her first solo album, Dangerously in Love, which was a huge success and won five Grammy Awards. Whereas Destiny’s Child released their last album in 2004 and broke up later that year. She married Jay-Z in 2008 and the couple had their child in 2012.
Beyonce is critisied for her bodysuits and provocative dances. In addition, her performances sometimes contain highly sexual gestures and acts.
Her sheer dresses especially those recently worn on Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, revealing shocking details of her body, are similar to those found in strip clubs and red light districts where women sell their bodies with prices set up by their managers.
Rakhi Kumar wrote in her ” An Open Letter to Michelle Obama: Beyonce is Not a Role Model” replying to a statement by Mrs. Obama that her daughters should take Beyonce a role model: “Beyonce, performing in sheer body suits, nipples displayed, mouth open, high heels and sheer tights, shaking her butt on stage, can no longer be held by world leaders as an icon of female success.”
In addition, her single ‘Bow Down’ caused a huge controversy since it contradicts Beyonce’s earlier ‘Feminist’ songs such as ‘Girls Run the World’ and ‘Single Ladies’. Her previous songs clearly said: ‘Women, girls don’t bow down to men, you’ve got the power.’ And now? She’s saying the exact opposite.
Barry Saunders , a staff columnist in the New Observer says: “it was obvious that she needs to rethink what image she’s trying to project – and to whom.”
“The more successful I become, the more I need a man.”
Beyonce said in an interview with GQ Men’s Magazine: “I truly believe that women should be financially independent from their men. And let’s face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value. They define what’s sexy. And men define what’s feminine. It’s ridiculous.”
While complaining about men defining what’s sexy and what’s not, Beyonce poses for the men’s GQ Magazine for seven photos (including the cover photo) in her underwear and breasts almost visible.
Hadley Freeman writes an article in the Guardian titled: Beyonce: Being Photographed with your underwear doesn’t help Feminism. She says: “Knowles rightly hates the fact that women are humiliated by being paid less than their male counterparts. But they are similarly humiliated by being fed the message that it doesn’t matter how successful, powerful or smart you are – all that matters is how sexually available you are willing to make yourself look.”
Although Beyonce might be trying to symbolize woman’s independence and power, the image portrayed by her performances and costumes shows that the ultimate success of a woman is by wearing similar bodysuits and dancing provocatively to men. As a result this might lead to girls self-objectifing themselves which means, treating their bodies as if they are objects to be taken care of in order to attract men. This comes with high price to women and girls in the form of disorders such as restrictive eating and depression.
Meanwhile supporters of Beyonce argue that there is nothing wrong with showing off her body in the sense that she’s proud of it. The question I’d like to ask: Does women’s pride really lie in whether they are sexually available or not? Does it lie in their physical appearance?
I believe not.
It’s true we know little of the human side of these women, their lives, their laughs and cries. They, and other similar artists, are a result of our materialistic, postmodern society which drifted us into the tides of never-changing subculture and technology.
Although these women were definitely female successes in the male-dominated music industry, they promoted a new stereotypical image of a woman. They present us with an image we receive through media. Being it only an image makes it far from objective reality. Apart from the ‘traditional’ image of a woman as a house maker, they promote an image that sends a notion that sexualizing women is necessary in order to be powerful or successful. Their presentation lacks exhibiting the brilliance of the mind instead of the body. They ‘promote’ sexuality rather than true gender equality and female liberation. The image they’re portraying is the sex symbol.
None of them represent an independent, modern educated woman, or even show that part in them. Instead, these beautiful women make society rate them according to their physical features rather than their level of education, knowledge or skills they acquire.
In addition, These fake images provided by the media give women and girls unrealistic notions of how they should look like and tend to teach girls to self-objectify themselves, that is treating their bodies as high quality products to attract the male gaze.
Our role models should be open minded, respectful to all religions and ethnicities, and most importantly, representing a woman who is in control of herself, not by exposing her body and ‘selling it to the public’ to make tons of money but by making her own decisions and letting the world respect her for who she really is, not by her physical appearance, and promoting gender equality in education and job opportunities.