Last night I enjoyed the Retro Futura concert at The Wilbur Theatre in Boston with 80s legends Tom Bailey [of the Thompson Twins], Howard Jones, Midge Ure [of UltraVox] and Katrina and the Waves. Mostly men. Big shout-out to Tom Bailey for his all-female backing band. Totally kick-ass and rarely seen. Even female musicians usually tour around with male backing bands. While I shimmied to some 80s tunes and relived my hazy unhappy high-school days, the tween set [and many others] watched the MTV VMAs. I could care less about MTV even though back in the 90s I worked as a music critic for MTV/Viacom.
The big news is that when Beyoncé sang “Flawless” she stood in front of a huge sign that said FEMINIST. Thank you Beyoncé.
Any feminist knows how hard it is to be a feminist. Just last night where I was volunteering before the concert at WGBH (a relatively liberal nonprofit PBS station in Boston), a guy said to me, “don’t tell me, you’re a feminist.” as if that were the worst possible thing I could possibly be. The negative overtones I’ve heard when I identify as feminist are disheartening. Feminism is misunderstood. I’ve identified as a feminist since fifth grade. It’s not been easy. Guys have steered clear of me since high school. Their problems not mine but I’m still a sensitive person. An ex-boyfriend asked me once: “what’s the point of a women’s college?” I graduated from Simmons College in Boston. Between being a feminist and being vegan, I spend a lot of time explaining my choices. It’s exhausting.
In the song “Flawless,” Beyoncé uses a clip from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk on feminism. When someone as influential as Beyoncé identifies herself as a feminist and she proudly and associates closely with the term, it’s monumental. It breaks down the stigma. It gives women and girls around the United States and world hope that someday being a feminist won’t be so negative– it will be the best thing ever.
Today if you say you’re a feminist people make ridiculous and mean assumptions that you’re unfeminine or you don’t like men. That’s why I’ve been part of the #365feministselfie project to illustrate the Kaleidoscope of feminists out there. Feminists are beautiful. Feminists can be feminine. Feminists can look however they want. Feminists are doing all sorts of wonderful, creative, productive activities. Feminists are outspoken. Feminists are changing the world. Just the other night I had a date where the guy shockingly told me that “women are doing okay.” Women only earn 77 cents to a man’s dollar. Reproductive, sexual rights and healthcare continues to be of grave concern for women. Hopefully, one day if you’re not a feminist people will look at you negatively.
So thank you again for standing up and speaking out about feminism, Beyoncé.