I’m not sure if I’m keen on this song being called a “feminist master piece”. A term that I’ve seen circulating since the release of Beyoncé self titled album. I am thrilled that Beyoncé showcased Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists” speech. I hope that the short excerpts from Adichie’s speech, will garner Beyoncé’s Beyhive and millions of fans to actually watch Adichie’s speech in full and that Adichie’s ideals will be introduced to a population of pop culture that may be unaware of it.
While I find this song to be very catchy, I can’t help to think that it is somewhat contradictory to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s featured speech. I’m left feeling a bit disgruntled and perplexed when Beyoncé continues to say “bow down bitches” throughout the song. For me the word ‘bitch’ is not where my contention lies with Beyoncé, its about the role of power in the phrase “bow down”. The line from the song that showcases this power dynamic states: “I’m so crown, crown, bow down bitches!”
Throughout Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech, she is demanding for equality and equity for women and men; as self-evident by the title, “We should all be feminists.” She is not relying solely on power and some self presumed hegemony gained through one’s popularity, talent, and fan base.
At 25:45 (minutes) into the speech, Adichie’s states “Gender and class are different forms of oppression.” This got me thinking. As a feminist, which Beyonce has identified as, she is a powerful woman of color that faces complex and compounding forms of oppression. Yet as a feminist, using your power to tell your audience (assuming its directed at men or “haters”) to “bow down” seems to be counterintuitive.
Queendoms and kingdoms alike are hegemonic by nature. “Queen Beyonce’s” empire is nevertheless different. But as stated by Crunk Feminist Collective, “She’s a work in progress, as are we all.”
So no, I do not believe that this song was flawlessly executed. Nevertheless, it is inspiring to see a successful woman of color identify as a feminist openly and unapologetically. One thing that I’m very happy to see is that Beyonce has inspired many from her Beyhive to listen to this speech in is entirety. If you look at the recent comments from Adichie’s speech on Youtube, you can see that the most recents comments are generated by Beyonce’s Beyhive.