15 Jan 2014
- Written by Alexis Garrett Stodghill/theGrio
Beyoncé has sharpened her feminist voice in a new essay she contributed to The Shriver Report, a new, multimedia initiative gaining attention created by journalist and former first lady of California Maria Shriver.
The 2014 report, A Woman's Nation Pushes Back From The Brink, is comprised of data, analysis and essays that aim to change the way American society relates to women, improving their outcomes in various sectors leading to social empowerment.
Perhaps as an extension of the discussion of feminism in a song from her latest album, "***Flawless," Beyoncé has contributed an essay to the report that enumerates the ways in which American women lag behind in terms of equal pay.
Pop star talks pay gap
In her piece, Gender Equality Is a Myth!, of the gender pay gap Beyoncé writes: "Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change. Men have to demand that their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters earn more – commensurate with their qualifications and not their gender. Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect."
While she does not go into specifics on the Beyoncé album track, this message is echoed in the lengthy sample featured at the heart of "***Flawless," culled from a TEDx talk given by African novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on feminism.
On the song Adichie is quoted as saying (at the end of a sizable serving of feminist musings), "Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes."
Beyoncé is certainly making her voice heard in her belief that gender equality is something worth fighting for.
In addition to these media jaunts into expressing this ideal, the star is also the co-founder of the organization Chime for Change, which is dedicated to creating uplifting programs for women and girls around the world, ensuring that women of all ages have access to education, health care and employment, particularly in regions where women are denied these necessities. The organization held a benefit concert in June 2013 that raised $4.3 million in ticket sales.
Beyoncé's particular brand of feminism
But, Beyoncé's costume for the concert, much like her brand of feminism, drew some criticism. Her leather panties topped with a sheer top were seen by some as inappropriate attire for an event meant to empower women.
Even the release of Beyoncé, her fifth studio album, reignited debates about how feminism is defined, with white and black women generally holding opposing views on the celebration of wealth and physical beauty that permeates Beyoncé's festive style of elevating women.
Yet, her recent moves are a fierce departure from merely performing songs with titles such as "Independent Women," and "Run the World (Girls)." These songs, and cute moves such as touring with an all-women band, could be perceived as mere lip service to the feminist movement that comes with a hefty personal and financial payoff.
Speaking to British Vogue, Beyoncé has been quoted as saying, "I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything?"
In her piece for The Shriver Report, through which she joins ranks with other strong feminist leaders throughout the ages through the power of the pen, Beyoncé is staking a stronger claim on her role as a feminist icon.
(Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter @lexisb.)