Jan 08 2014

The Feminist Debate Over Beyoncé

Pop music superstar Beyoncé released a new album a few weeks ago with no fanfare or publicity, catching her fans and critics alike off-guard. The self-titled album broke new ground for its lack of publicity, but also because it combined audio with visuals, consisting of 14 songs and 17 videos. What also set the album apart was the fact that Queen Bey – as she’s fondly called by her fans – reflected her own feminism and sense of self in a starkly personal and artistic manner, overseeing every aspect of the album’s production, including the videos.

Known for espousing themes of female empowerment through her hits such as Single Ladies and Run the World, Beyoncé also represents a framework that defies mainstream stereotypes of black women: She is hardworking, an international celebrity, a mother and a wife.

Beyoncé’s new album, which has a song that samples audio from a speech by Nigerian feminist Chimamanda Adichie, sold over a million copies within just weeks, instantly becoming her most successful to date. The album also became the fastest-selling in the history of iTunes both in the US and globally and has been compared to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Meanwhile, the debate over whether Beyoncé is indeed a feminist continues. In an article for the Guardian, writer Mikki Kendall says “Feminism has never been one size fits all, yet much of the criticism that revolves around entertainers like Beyoncé presumes that there is a unilateral guide on how to be the “right” kind of feminist.”

GUEST: Mikki Kendall, writer and pop culture analyst and blogger, creator of the popular Twitter #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen.

Click here to read Mikki Kendall’s recent commentary about Beyoncé.

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