Popdust reported, Annie Lennox finds the way Beyonce has co-opted feminism troublesome and inauthentic. “I would call that ‘feminist lite.’ L-I-T-E. I’m sorry. It’s tokenistic to me,” she told PrideSource.
Recently, Lennox was asked about the sexualisation of young girls in the industry and elaborated further on what she meant by “feminist lite”.
“Well, I didn’t specifically criticize Beyoncé,” Annie said. “I was being asked about Beyoncé in the context of feminism, and I was thinking at the time about very impactful feminists that have dedicated their lives to the movement of liberating women and supporting women at the grass roots, and I was saying, ‘Well, that’s one end of the spectrum, and then you have the other end of the spectrum.’”
I LOVE Beyonce but I totally understand and support Lennox’s point of view. Let’s all just crank back to the early days of feminism, The Second Wave, when women were just starting to make themselves heard about their oppression. During those early protests, women had what was called Freedom Trash Cans. In these cans, women discarded and burned all things symbolic of the the oppression of women. In these piles were make-up sets, high heels, hair curlers, bras, Playboy magazines even mops, pots and pans…all things that women had put themselves through to satisfy men’s perceptions of beauty and a “good wife”.
Now of course these protests would not have as much impact today because many women will say, “I wear heels for me. I look good because I want to, not for any man. I love cooking and cleaning.” Which is fantastic. Back then, those protests were so much more powerful because that was the struggle of women- looking pretty at home and and doing domestic work was an expectation which was imposed on them and that was just about what they were confined to.
Today however, we are presented with a slightly different dichotomy in the face of feminism. We have now come to the point where the Trash Can feminists are being confronted by the Playboy/ MTV/Pop culture feminists, as they declare that they are empowered by their work and no, they don’t want to be symbols of oppression by misogyny anymore. They believe that they are empowered enough, thank you very much. If you disagree, take a look at their pay checks.
But maybe the booty-shorts and bra-less feminist isn’t wrong because she proves that she does not needs to abide by men’s orders to be respectable.
Maybe she’s wrong for feeding a culture of woman-objectification while claiming to be “embracing her sexuality”, knowing well that she gets a big fat pay check from it while she fuels the patriarchal society in which the desires of men dominate media hence the prevalence of the “Sex Sells” slogan.
Either way, she’s capitalising on her sexuality, whether she’s doing so in defiance of moral expectations or in affirmation of her autonomy.
The reason here may matter to some degree but mostly not and here’s why. Men disrespect women and their right to autonomy because the message put out by the media is that celebrities are willing to feed the male market’s desire to see ‘a little more skin and a little more jiggling” isn’t that right, Chingy? and as a result, they expect the same from women in society. They expect all other women to capitalise on their sexuality. They think all women ,because of their ‘autonomy’, are willing or should be willing to use their sexuality to their advantage in life.
If you disagree with this, think of older men “sugar daddies” who are unsparing in showering young girls with gifts because they’re so beautiful. Of course, these things come with a price-which often violates that autonomy over one’s body.
Think of bosses who think female employees who dress elegantly or ‘revealingly’, are out seeking unfair promotion. Some of which are quite willing to consider giving this promotion, except the woman is expected to capitalise on her sexuality-again- to ‘earn’ it or express her appreciation.
I’m not saying that hyper-sexualised celebrities are the reason that some men cannot control their urges and abuse their power, but indirectly, they are fuelling a spillover effect which, by virtue of their work, does endorse the abuse of men’s power. Whether they are asserting their independence or giving in to the pressure, society is set up in a way so as to benefit the man either way. R Kelly and Juicy J are still seeing more booty, except this time, they don’t even have to ask.
The feminism I believe in is the one which shakes the basis of this set-up society in which the man is given an unfair advantage over women. Note- not just any advantage (otherwise I might have to wrestle with nature), but unfair advantage created by stereotypical, cultural, legal and institutionalised norms.
The truth is: that the female body is commodified and exploited by patriarchy everywhere. Making money out of it anyway and being influential in the process is what I deem false glory. Sell-out-ism. You may have acquired a significant amount of wealth from your sexuality, as do many men, no doubt, but for the cause of empowering yourself and other women living under oppressive patriarchy, it has been at the cost of the purpose and essence of the feminist cause.