Another day, another Beyoncé think piece has hit the web, but while I’m inclined to ignore 98% of them, this one just seems ridiculous.
Writing for the Guardian, pop culture writer Marina Hyde argues Beyoncé, as a self-proclaimed feminist, is setting a bad example for young women by calling her upcoming tour with her husband Jay-Z, “Me and Mrs. Carter” (note: the tour is reportedly being billed as the Mr. and Mrs. Carter tour). Hyde uses Bey’s Shriver Report essay on gender equality to “prove” that Beyoncé is engaging in doublespeak.
Now, Lost in Showbiz loves Beyoncé, and was even prepared to regard her own Mrs Carter tour as a slightly flat-falling joke … but honestly. Think it through, my love! There is still time to change the branding before the formal announcement. Short of “Me and Mrs Me”, this is possibly the least self-respecting thing an Independent Woman could call a double act. Whether Me bothered reading her essay I couldn’t say – but on this evidence few will think Beyoncé did, let alone actually bothered writing it. If Jay-Z feels too grand to even bother using his name, deploying his wife’s married formulation as a kind of knowing hint to the real megastar on the billing, he starts to feel less like her other half, and more like her other three-quarters.
…But back to Beyoncé’s essay. “We need to stop buying into the myth of gender equality,” this insisted. “It isn’t a reality yet … But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change … Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect.”
So the way this column sees it, our benighted megastars have two options to even out previous imbalances. Either they switch the tour name to Me and Mr Knowles. Or they stick with it as it is, but the gig opens with a tuxedoed Beyoncé leading a bethonged Jay-Z on to the stage on a leash.
So let me get this straight. Taking her husband’s name is an affront to gender equality because….what exactly? Does being a feminist means women must keep their maiden names instead of choosing to use one or both when they see fit?
Despite the narrow boxes some women like to put around feminism, being a feminist is simple. As bell hooks wrote in Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, “Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” hooks, who many credit as being one of the foremothers of feminist theory also concluded “there is no one path to feminism.”
So, I’m not sure why people continue to try to nix-Bey’s F-card—when hooks has embraced her use of the term—because she does not conform to their definition of what a good feminist should look, act, and talk like.
While Hyde believes Beyoncé should reread her essay on gender equality, which called for equal pay and equal respect for women, Beyoncé’s choice to take on her married name when she sees fit—because let’s face it, she doesn’t always wear the Mrs. Carter label—is not a slight to equality, but rather an expression of a confident woman who is defining herself on her own terms.