Turns out indestructible Beyoncé Knowles does have a weakness: She is afraid of being called a feminist. In the article accompanying her be-crop-topped turn on the cover of British Vogue, the magazine asked Beyoncé whether she considers herself a feminist. Her ambivalent response:
That word can be very extreme ... But I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman. ... I do believe in equality and that we have a way to go and it's something that's pushed aside and something that we have been conditioned to accept. ... But I'm happily married. I love my husband.
Generally, asking a female celebrity whether she is a feminist is an exercise in baiting. (When it comes to click bait headlines, "is not a feminist" is the female media equivalent of "nip slip.") We know, at this point, that women who have a vested interest in being popular — i.e., celebrities — are still afraid of the word "feminism." Some fear alienating men: "I don't really think about things as guys versus girls," said Taylor Swift. "I'm not a feminist. I hail men, I love men," said Lady Gaga. Others object to negative associations: Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer objects to "the militant drive and sort of the chip on the shoulder" connected to the "negative word."
This doesn't offend me; I don't particularly care whether or not someone calls herself a feminist, particularly when, as is the case with Beyoncé, she so clearly is a feminist role model. To the extent that her selfie documentary had a message beyond "Beyoncé," the message was feminism. In her own words:
Women have to work much harder to make it in this world. It really pisses me off that women don’t get the same opportunities as men do, or money for that matter. Because let's face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define our values and to define what’s sexy and what’s feminine and that’s bullshit. At the end of the day, it’s not about equal rights, it’s about how we think. We have to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves.
So, no, I'm not offended by Beyoncé's ambivalence about the word feminist. (Back in 2011, Beyoncé offered to "find a catchy new word for feminism ... like Bootylicious.") Her waffling does come across as pretty weak, though. A woman who has worked so hard to cultivate an image of independence and strength, is terrified of one little word? Why? Is it because she's giving someone else "the power to define our values and to define what's sexy and what's feminine"? Because a certain pop star once told me "that's bullshit."
Most Viewed Stories
I Worked at Fyre Festival. It Was Always Going to Be a Disaster.
Famous Guests Were Reportedly Warned Not to Go to Fyre Festival in Advance
Life Lessons From the Great Fyre Festival Disaster
The Kardashians Just Broke Up With the Stylist They’ve Been Using for a Decade
This Fyre Festival Apology Is As Extra As You’d Expect
Why Wallflowers Don’t Make Friends
Don’t Follow Pippa Middleton’s ‘Extremely Restrictive’ Wedding Diet
These Tweets Will Make You Very Glad That You Didn’t Spend Thousands of Dollars to Get Stranded in the Bahamas
Female Dragonflies Fake Their Own Deaths to Avoid Males
It’s a Girl for Ciara and Russell Wilson
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesA Holiday Season Weekend Through London
A good guide for avid The Crown fans.It’s About Time You Learned Tove Lo’s Name
The singer has crafted pop hits you’ve heard a thousand times by now.Marina Abramovic Has Outlasted Her Lovers and, She Hopes, Her Critics
The world's most famous performance artist at 70.The Wing: Do Women Still Need a Space of Their Own?
This exclusive social club for women, is part sorority, part start-up.In Virtual Reality, Women Run the World
A new generation of female artists is making VR the most diverse corner of the male-dominated tech space.The Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.