***Consider this your warning. This is not just the only picture in this post, but the inspiration for the entire piece. If this in any way frightens you, feel free to exit the vehicle now.***
I have finally begun to pick up the pieces after the bomb Yonce birthed and handed down upon us last week. You know how sometimes you cant truly understand something until the rug has been ripped out from under you? Well here I am, laid out on a bare hardwood floor. As I begin to rise, suddenly the whole room looks different and, dare I say, makes complete sense.
I have been wrestling around with some feelings about the conversations that have been started more and more often lately. The kinds of conversations that rise around Rashida Jones and the “pornification of pop culture” and Miley Cyrus’s poor little dried out tongue. For the most part i’ve stayed relatively quite on these issues because I hadn’t properly banded together all the feelings that these asinine headlines produce within me. This life lesson, as i’m finding that many do, comes in multiple parts that somehow collided together in a magical moment of enlightenment. So try and keep up.
Our journey begins with a particularly self loathing purchase at Reckless Records. I went in to buy a series of classic films for a christmas gift exchange and walked out with a copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (ouch) and Blue Valentine (double ouch). I marched straight back to my apartment, poured myself a glass of wine, popped Blue Valentine into the ol’ laptop, and got to weeping. A habit I have with new DVDs is watching them once, and then immediately re-watching them with the audio commentary, don’t ask me to explain it because even I don’t get it. Well, everything is going according to plan when all of a sudden the scene pops up when the two main characters (Dean and Cindy) are having a, shall we say, “intimate moment” in which Dean is, as Beyonce would put it, licking Cindy’s skittles. Apart from the subject matter the scene is incredibly tame and both actors are fully clothed. At this point the director comes on the commentary and says that this scene is what awarded the film its NC-17 rating.
Hold on to that while we venture over to part two of our journey.
The setting is my bedroom. It’s late. I am sleepless doing what a sleepless every 20 something is best at, scrolling through my twitter feed, when all of a sudden I see it. The tweet that would leave me forever changed
“Beyonce releases secret album”
I stayed up all night listening to the album over and over again. I couldn’t believe my ears. The whole album has such an outright sexual tone about it I had to scrape my jaw off the floor several times. I mean, this is not the Bey we’ve known and loved. This, ladies and gentlemen, its Yonce, and she’s fucking fearless. Quite possibly my favorite part about this album is the video for “Flawless”. If you’ve ever met me i’m sure you could guess that angry Beyonce is my all time favorite Beyonce. Sure, sexy Bey and silly Bey all hold a place in my heart, but angry Bey rules the kingdom of my soul. On “Flawless” angry Bey was UNLEASHED. In the first 30 seconds of the video we see good old beautiful Bey, up to her same old sexy tricks and at about :41 something happens in her eyes, and you know she’s about to take you for a ride. I mean EXCUSE ME she’s wearing a long sleeved plaid button down with high waisted daisy dukes cut straight thong style in the back, dancing around in a basement filled with a flock of skin heads telling us to “bow down”. In the second verse she gives us a passage from Chimamanda Ngozi Aichie’s TED talk in which she speaks on feminism and the double standard of raising our young women to, above all else, aspire to marriage, but not teaching our young men the same. She says, “we teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way boys are.” Now, this leads me to the awkward elephant in the room. We all know there’s another side to Beyonce. The side that’s, just 5 tracks earlier, asking her driver to
“Roll up the partition please
Don’t want you seeing Yonce on her knees” (I die)
I mean. This is the same woman adorning a bejeweled corset doing a fucking strip dance saying “I just want to be the girl you like”. That’s certainly not feminist.
At the end of “Partition” we hear a woman speaking in French. She is saying “Men think feminists hate sex, but it’s a very stimulating and natural activity that women love.” Much of the mainstream information on feminism suggests that you must choose which type of feminist you are. One of the man hating bra burning feminists, or a pole dance class taking “it’s my body i’ll show it to whoever I want to” kinda feminist. Somehow in one album Beyonce completely shattered that stereotype by saying “I love my husband. I love my body. I love my daughter. I love my mind. I am feminism.”
The thing that I love so much about this album is how it burrowed into my brain. Got me thinking about all these issues i’ve been trying to put aside for months. It allowed me to indulge in my fantasies, and not feel guilty for that. Then all of a sudden, I found myself in one of those full circle moments. It all finally clicked. The reason that scene in Blue Valentine got the film the NC-17 rating was because it allowed the audience’s imagination to do all the work. I mean, isn’t that the entire point of burlesque? A dance form that entirely indulges the viewers mind and own personal fantasy? Our imaginations are a dark and mysterious place, way more dangerous than any raunchy sex scene or skinny white girl in a bikini desperately shaking her butt in order to get more record sales.
Outwardly, I am Katelynd Frierson. I work in coffee shops, I have an affinity for baggy clothing and tattoos, I don’t speak to strangers unless absolutely forced, I can make you laugh, and I write for a stye blog which I love.
Inwardly, I am Katelyonce. I dance in front of my mirror, I am constantly silently judging myself and others, I think I look fucking fierce in a boxy silk tee and my black daisy dukes, I wish I could loose 15 pounds, I care what you think of me, and I don’t give a fuck what you think of me.
I am so incredibly sick of everyone trying to put modern feminism in a cute little box that the privileged “real feminists” get to hand down to women that aren’t living up to some strange set of ideals that we all agreed on. I don’t remember being asked to put in my two cents on that list of ideals, and frankly I wouldn’t want to in the first place. Listen. I realize that as a woman I am expected to have some sort of incredibly tall and sturdy pillar of beliefs on what it means to be a woman or a feminist and an even stronger opinion on the actions of my fellow women. All I really have to offer up right now is that I believe that women should be allowed/ALLOW THEMSELVES to enjoy feeling and being sexy, mystery and imagination are more powerful that explicitness for the sake of explicitness, and the most powerful/terrifying attribute a woman can have is honesty.
When I hear Bey say,
“I woke up like this.
I don’t think she’s talking about her hair, or her eye makeup, or her (fierce) outfit, but her attitude. I am woman. I am perfect in my imperfections, and what the fuck do I care if you think otherwise?