Arn't I A Woman?: The Problem With Beyonce



Apr 16, 2013

The Problem With Beyonce

One woman should never feel the entire plight of a gender, race, or class, or any other social distinction. We look to Beyonce for answers because she surpassed the expectations of a white patriarchy. And when anyone achieves this feat, no matter what station predominates their existence we automatically look at them like a superhero. If someone can so seamlessly transcend these social barriers and distinctions we simultaneously shame ourselves for not overcoming more and hero-fy those that do. The truth is those that defy our parochial opinions on how far they deserve to go in our society- those that surprise us- do so through a random set of variables. I love Beyonce and I think we can all agree how otherworldly she appears when she transfixes our eyes on a series of bodily movements that are so flawless and poetic, so visceral and gritty- should everyone’s body be able to do this?

The truth is we have to stop asking ‘why doesn’t Beyonce wear her hair more natural?’ or ‘why does Beyonce speak so hood?’ ‘How is Beyonce a feminist and a lingerie model?’ Beyonce is Beyonce. Neither a hero nor a villain. Not a saint and not a devil. She’s not going to end sexism or cure cancer. She is an entertainer.

Let’s use Beyonce as an example not to hate ourselves. How many more Beyonces are among us right now but are taught that they need to be like someone else to feel special? I think what we are all most jealous of is the fact that she seems totally secure with herself. That translates into authenticity. Through the cultivation of the authentic individual we will be creating an environment that grows more Beyonces and I think we can all agree that would be a pretty great thing. I hope everyone finds their inner Beyonce today. 

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Sojourner Truth

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Sojourner Truth

Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention

Akron, Ohio