Beyonce's Divine Feminism at the VMAs
What a night! I'm sure many things happened at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, but truly only one part of the event is on my takeaway list. An impossibly hot Beyoncé at the height of her powers defined feminism as being the epitome of the feminine divine, represented women as ambitious, sexy and maternal, brought author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's incantation about teaching girls to claim success to the massive VMA audience, and all was right with the world.
Maybe you aren't as ridiculous as I was in requiring myself to watch the entire VMA award show in order to not miss a second of Beyoncé's closing performance and acceptance of this year's Video Vanguard Award. You are in luck, because you can cut to the important part and just watch her performance. In fact, let me just pause right now and watch it again. I'm not a complete stan or card-carrying member of the Beyhive, but I can in fact get worked up about Yoncé. I love her voice, her dancing, and her point of view. Beyond that, this is something special: a celebration of feminism on her terms.
That point of view is what hooks me every time, and she was in fine form at the VMAs. Forever more, we can now easily revel in her contemporary Church of Bey Neo-Feminism Power Hour. It's a fabulous antidote to all that ails, including those pesky backlash messages from the "women don't need feminism" front.
Beyoncé consistently puts forward a message of female empowerment that is firmly centered on the feminine divine, holding up women as powerful sexual agents of their own (forgive me) destinies, talents and desires. In last night's performance, she overtly led the audience in repeating her power mantras, exhorting us to remember we wake up flawless. What's more, she positioned her sexual empowerment as "feminist" with the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoken word interlude and text background affirming the feminist message that girls be allowed to own and control their sexuality, just as boys are, without worrying that they are threatening men. Equality. She boldly held the very word "Feminist" on the stage in very, very large-point text and it was triumphant.
And after taking us through that signature Beyoncé elixir of empowerment through owning one's own voice, love and desire, with dancing that ranged from pole to power stomps, then her performance swung to the cradle with a tribute to her daughter and her own experience of motherhood. In one medley, Beyoncé represented all roles of the divine feminine, from seductress to lover to mother to teacher, presented it as Capital F feminist, and sealed it all by making us cry with a stage appearance by the adorable Blue Ivy (oh, and, um, her baby daddy too.) All hail the VMAs and Queen Bey.
I saw Twitter reactions of fans of all ages who wanted to be her, do her, or have her as a mother. That's a fairly refreshing line of options, and I can't imagine any one else pulling it off except Beyoncé.
In a word, her feminism, performance and complete Beyness were flawless. I realize that all of this sounds like I'm in even deeper as a fan, and I guess I am. I'm happy to apply for full-on Beyhive status now, and I'll be proud to carry that card bearing its FEMINISM stamp front and center.