“In the perspective of every person lies a lens through which we may better understand ourselves”- Ellen Langer
So I know that you have already read a number of articles about Beyoncé and Lemonade and I am sorry to add to your list, but I guess I am sorry not sorry. Because I will tell you… it wasn’t easy to decide what to write about, there were several angles to come at this piece. I read several articles about this and that, about infidelity and Jay-Z, Black women empowerment, feminism and even that Beyoncé is no role model based on her lyrics (and there were some questionable lyrics), but I am sure they had some purpose, for HER. And this makes sense, as with a movie, a good book, or album, people can watch, read or listen to the exact same thing and walk away with a complete different interpretation. But let’s be clear the whole album is for Beyoncé, and certain parts are for our enjoyment.
I believe this is true for any real artist, and I am sure there are people who think Beyoncé is a manufactured robot whose sole purpose in life is to brainwash and make millions. But for the purpose of this post and my satisfaction, I am writing from the viewpoint that Beyoncé is an artist and she paid top dollar for her writers to construct the lyrics to match her visual masterpiece that is LEMONADE. (I would say it’s not a masterpiece musically because just listening to the tracks it is not her best, but we can debate that at a later time.)
So as I sat down, I was trying to be polite with my thoughts, but I felt pretty strong about some comments and critiques such as the following, as tweeted by Azealia Bank’s herself.
Exhibit A – “You keep crying over a man and perpetuating that sad black female sufferance and it’s not good for what we’re trying to accomplish here”
Exhibit B – “You been singing about this n****a for years and he still playing you. That’s not strength, that’s stupidity”
Azealia’s tweets are coupled with several comments of sarcasm that I heard from others, such as “poor ole Beyoncé singing the blues”, “oh, her life must be so hard” –
Okay, look, no one is saying that Beyoncé’s life is hard, but does that mean she can’t talk about the issues that she is having with Jay-Z. Azealia’s tweets and those comments completely miss the complexity of the role of women in the 21st century. When you have to balance a husband, kids and a career. The reason more women, of all races and ages, loved it, is that Beyoncé struggled (and is struggling) with the same shit as we all do and she is the “baddest bitch in the game”. But her being the baddest doesn’t change the fact that a man can (and probably will) betray your trust whether it is infidelity or something monetary or when something equally intimate is taken for granted. There are so many ways to be betrayed.
The reality is that our families, especially our significant others or our companions, deeply influence our everyday life and it’s hard. So to invalidate her feminism “cred” because she opens up about her struggles with a lying (maybe cheating) husband is like the opposite of feminism.
We, as group of people, who support the political, social, and economic equality of women, cannot be upset or frustrated that Beyoncé felt betrayed and felt the need to make music about it. For centuries, women have had to fight with decision of staying or leaving, heck, probably a few millennia! I mean who could forget how Adam was quick to throw shade in the Garden of Eden because Eve gave him the piece of fruit that caused him to sin:
Then the man said, “The woman whom YOU gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” – Gensis 3:12
See, men have been making excuses since the beginning of time. That isn’t changing.
So as a 30 year old woman with friends at different stages of their romantic life: single, married for years, newlyweds, divorcees, and even windows, regardless of whether they are successful professionally, or kick ass mothers, their relationships are a priority, so why would it be different for Beyoncé? Not for one second, would I agree with the critiques about HOW anti-feministic it is that she is whining and crying about her husband cheating. I mean I guess she could be quiet, and be damned nonetheless like Hillary Clinton, who stayed extremely quiet about Bill’s infidelity and her struggles until recently during her campaign and people have always talked about her silence. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
The reality is not about whether Beyoncé is weak or not, but we are actually uncomfortable with the honestly of Beyoncé’s album. Even for people who liked and admired it. It makes us all a little uncomfortable, in this male dominated world, that Beyoncé felt that she:
- could openly critique a man directly, who is as equally successful;
- felt betrayed and stay; AND
- told the world all about it.
I didn’t walk away from Beyoncé ‘s album with a sad black suffrage vibe, did you? I kind of felt like it was more along these lines:
Life is hard.
Love is hard.
Money, fame, and beauty doesn’t make life easier.
That is really what she is trying to say in between her anger. The first thing I really thought about when I finished the album, was whether it was therapeutic for her? Was it part of her healing and recovery? Not to mention a lyrical guide for all the other women who are dealing with similar issues in their marriages, maybe Beyoncé wanted to bring them some comfort to her struggles. To be silent no more, and talk about how crazy she felt about her situation.
But in reality, we just saw misery, the heartache was so appetizing, especially when it’s not our own, and let it be a celebrity. We were less concerned what it meant for Beyoncé and the fact that we should be happy that we got to witness it.
So you can think she has nothing to complain about, but I think it doesn’t matter how perfect we want life to be, it will never be, and when life is falling apart, you find out – some people will revel in it, shame you for your life falling apart, and only a few will support you in it. But you will have to walk through that journey step by step nevertheless. No one can escape it including Beyoncé .
In closing, if Beyoncé can’t talk about Feminism and she can’t talk about Black Lives Matter, what makes her unfit to talk about relationships? To often she is seen and not heard, and when she decided to share her voice candidly about her man, in a male-dominated world, it wasn’t just the men who had a problem. It was women speaking much louder as if we all don’t struggle with feeling appreciated, loved, and supported. Even the BEST man will let you down at least once. Because we are human, and no one is perfect. So stop acting like you didn’t see a little of yourself through Beyoncé’s lens.
Stop trying to brush the shame under the rug. Embrace it, and move on.