Beyonce, Feminism, and Keeping Her Clothes on: What She Can Learn from Madonna
Beyonce is on the cover of this month’s Out magazine. Despite the fact that she is topless and wearing a wig, I couldn’t help but notice that she’s reminding me a lot of Madonna from the early ’90s these days. I’m not just talking about her appearance, but the path she is taking in her career, too.
In her Marilyn Monroe-inspired wig, Beyonce talks to Out magazine about how easy it can be to be sexy and classy at the same time, explaining: “There is unbelievable power in ownership, and women should own their sexuality. You can be a businesswoman, a mother, an artist, and a feminist — whatever you want to be — and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive.”
Sound familiar? Well it should because these are the same words that were preached to us over 20 years ago when Madonna was still at her reign on top of the Billboard charts. Although Madonna was more of a straight shooter when it came to owning her risqué image back then (she was once quoted as saying, “Can a body be a murder weapon? Can you kill someone with love?” plus much, much more that I wouldn’t dare repeat in words on this blog here!), I definitely see Beyonce taking notes with this new task to “empower” women. Her latest album is inspired by her own desire to personalize her battle as “a woman in a male-dominated society.”
With all the hoopla around her “I’m a woman, hear me roar,” interviews along with topless photo spreads, I’m simply not buying it.
It seems like the more women such as Beyonce and Madonna campaign for sexual liberation while allowing interviewers inside their inner sanctum of thoughts, I can’t help but realize that all of this “liberating” is coming from the producers who are holding the puppet strings that will help sell Beyonce’s new album. Let’s just face it: Sex sells albums, and the message that Beyonce is trying to sell me is something I’m simply not buying. She’s doing nothing but pushing a theory that she is fighting the good fight by expressing how sexy she thinks she is. Miley Cyrus is doing it, Lady Gaga is doing it, and so is every other starlet in Hollywood who is ready and willing to jump on the raunchy bandwagon all in the name of feminism. Is that a message that I want to send to my daughter? Absolutely not.
And in the same fashion as Madonna crashing and burning during the mid-’90s after her heavily publicized flirtation with all things sex, it seems that even today, the more celebrities reveal, the more they have to lose. Not too long ago there was a time when Beyonce was very secretive and protective of her private life and her marriage, sparing no details of her life with her husband Jay-Z to the media. These days I’m nothing less than shocked to be seeing her parading half-naked on stage while singing suggestive lyrics with her husband. I mean, Frank Sinatra never had to parade himself suggestively around stage during his heyday.
Going back to Madonna, I don’t think she ever intended on selling her message of sexual prowess to her own daughter, Lourdes, now 16. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. She’s revealed time and time again that she’s a rather strict mother who wouldn’t allow her own children to do half the things she did during the beginning of her career. Twenty years later we can now see that this was no more than a stage act to help sell her pop-Goddess image. With Beyonce being a mother herself, is she limiting her most recent message to just her fans, or would she apply this to her daughter as well? Or is she following the Madonna book of manufactured stage personas?
While celebrities such as Beyonce want to feed me their message of sexual empowerment, I’ve got a different kind of message for them: Keep your clothes on. Keep discreet. Keep true to yourself the next time you’re asked to sell yourselves so you can sell your records. Be a better role model for your daughter, my daughter, and all of our future daughters by keeping your top on and doing what you do best in your life and with your talent. Because being true to yourself is the most powerful anyone can really be.