The Problem With BeyHive Bottom Bitch Feminism

Beyhive Booty

In Pimp Theory, a “bottom bitch” is the one in the whores’ hierarchy who rides hardest for her man. She’s the rock of every hustler economy and her primary occupation is keeping other ho’s in check and gettin’ that money. She isn’t trying to elevate the status of her sister ho’s. She isn’t looking to transform pimp culture. The bottom bitch is a token who is allowed symbolic power, which she uses to discipline, advocate for, represent and advance the domain of the stable.  In pop culture, she represents the trope of the chosen black female, loyal to her man and complicit in her own commodification.

In hip hop vernacular she has emerged as the “Boss Bitch” or “Bawse”, titles you’ll hear used liberally across urban/pop discourses – from the streets to rappers to the hip hop, basketball and ATL housewives.  What she represents is an appearance of power within a structure of male dominance, but in reality this “power” is merely vicarious and not a positional power in and of itself.

Admittedly, bottom bitch is an unfortunate metaphor to use for framing conversations about Beyonce, but when you’re married to “Big Pimp’n” and his cameo on your new self-titled album, coined a “feminist masterpiece,” is all about how he gon’

Catch a charge, I might, beat the box up like Mike…

I’m like Ike Turner

Baby know I don’t play, now eat the cake Annie Mae

Said, eat the cake, Annie Mae

you leave us no choice. When elements of the feminist community rise up to applaud your simplistic, pro-capitalist, structurally violent sampling of feminism, the metaphor becomes even more relevant. Moreover, we’re concerned that the capitalist ethics of mainstream hip hop has seduced feminist allies into flirting with bottom bitch feminism in their silencing of those who would critique Bey and the systemic violence she represents.

To this we ask: Is a feminism sponsored by the corporate music industrial complex as big as we can dream? Is the end game a feminism in which the glass ceiling for black women’s representation only reaches as high as our booties? Can’t we just love Bey as an amazing corporate artist without selling out the hard won accomplishments of our black feminist and womanist foremothers?  Can we not love her for the gorgeous and fierce mega pop star she is without appropriating her for some liberal, power feminist agenda?

These questions asked, we do understand the terror and mistrust some black women may feel when confronted with representations that reflect us to ourselves as brilliantly beautiful.  We also get the impulse that these same women may have to criticize and destroy such images. But this is not that. Our critique of Bey as a feminist doesn’t come from a place of fear. Indeed it may even be more a critique of the black feminist blogosphere. Our real fear is of a bourgeoning cadre of institutional gatekeepers of “appropriate” black feminist politics going in hard with their facile analyses, shaming and silencing black women with alternative reads of B.

Real Colored Girls are not here to promote or co-sign the idea that to critique Bey’s “Flawless Feminism” is to hate black women.  We reject the idea that love for the folks equals blind loyalty. Our deep and abiding love and respect for the ancestors will never permit an image of feminism wrapped in the gold chains of hip hop machismo.  We ain’t throwin’ no (blood) diamonds in the air for ‘da roc, no matter how many feminists you sample over a dope beat. We’re smarter than that. We’re worth more than that.

Insisting on a rank and file consent and approval to these ‘terms of engagement’ is a form of bullying and in the spirit of Audre Lorde we remind you that silencing dissent will not protect you.  We feel strongly that it is our duty and imperative to engage multiple perspectives in the marketplace of ideas, supporting open discourse, lest we find ourselves guilty of policing one another into a dishonest respectability.

Our work is not done. Beyhive Bottom Bitch Feminism does not replace nor is it even in the realm of the critical work of black women writers and artists across the discursive spectrum, as some folks have proclaimed across social media. As womanists and black feminists, we have a responsibility to bring it with our cultural work which we will infuse, at all times, with an ethic of care and responsibility. The coontocracy of assimilationist corporate negroes is in full effect, riding for patriarchal capitalist agendas and having us believe that somehow Bey’s success is a step toward some dystopic vision of progress for Black women. There may be empowerment for some folks but by and large it is a false hope steeped in capitalism and individualism, supporting the escapist desires of rampant pornographic consumerism.

This essay does not come from a place of ‘who gon’ check me, boo?’. We would like to invite dialogue, conversation and a multitude of perspectives. We’re thinking that our next conversation will be about how Beyonce has opened the door for further discussion around black female sexuality. We’ve been feelin’ this quote by bell hooks from her essay “Selling Hot Pussy”:

When black women relate to our bodies, our sexuality, in ways that place erotic recognition, desire, pleasure, and fulfillment at the center of our efforts to create radical black female subjectivity, we can make new and different representations of ourselves as sexual subjects. To do so we must be willing to transgress traditional boundaries. We must no longer shy away from the critical project of openly interrogating and exploring representation of black female sexuality as they appear everywhere, especially in popular culture.

What are your thoughts?

#RealColoredGirls

#BottomBitchFem

458 thoughts on “The Problem With BeyHive Bottom Bitch Feminism

  1. kyac says:

    I am a real colored girl myself and all I can say is…stay pressed sista

  2. Onikki says:

    This is the most mentally small piece of troll I’ve read in quite some time.

  3. LionLamb says:

    I too am a real colored girl and all I can say is….*clears throat* GIRL BYE!!!!!

  4. LadyAfroIntelligent says:

    Thank you for these thoughts. As a person who is not pressed, not hateful of Beyoncé, but very concerned about everything that has been written about her in a mere 48 hours, I am grateful for your critical questions, your thoughtful analysis, and your willingness to just speak truth. It’s so sad to see the masses and masses of people who will just blindly follow what is given to them. It takes courage, self-reflection, and honesty to speak truth to power, which you’ve done here. As a real colored girl, not interested in what white supremacist capitalist patriarchy has to offer me, I only hope your words reach those who have closed their minds and ears…our ability to bring about a better world depends on it. Peace.

    • Kenja McCray says:

      LadyAfroIntelligent, I agree with you. Through experience, I have found that many of the masses have not had the privilege of being given space, time, and the tools to think so reflectively and critically about themselves and the “stuff” that’s pushed at them.

    • ms_micia says:

      The truth of a things comes from its results. Forget what it sounds like. Forget what you make project onto it through your own lens of understanding. Ask yourself how does what she is doing/saying *or rather her writers who are more than likely male and may even be white* really serving black women? Subservient overt sexuality that is all about the man and not her? Does that serve any feminist thought? None that I’ve read. I get what people want to see, but the reality is a much different thing. It’s always scary when the words Beyonce and feminist come into the same sentence for me. She’s NEVER been that, this new thought is being seen through such a dirty lens that any intent she *or her handlers* may have of pushing her into this “feminist” light isn’t going to benefit anyone, except maybe her. Truth is Beyonce is just a pop star, That’s it. Madonna, Lady GaGa for all their temporary ra ra for the feminist movement they will still drop it likes it hot and do something strange for a peice of change. That’s the way the industry merry go round goes. So…..bop ya head if you must but don’t make it deep. Just simply reject the feminist angle and be entertained.

  5. The metaphor you have used in this post, as “unfortunate” as it may be, is right on time..Just as our foremothers and forefathers didn’t struggle for Civil Rights so that one day we could have a black drone-happy president, the feminists amongst them didn’t struggle so that we could uncritically embrace entertainers of the Beyonce variety as THE definition of what it means to be a feminist. The most stirring, relevant aspect of those past feminists always had a strong anti-capitalist bent because they recognized its impact on what it means to be a woman. So I say thank you and keep the faith.

  6. Reblogged this on Tichaona Chinyelu and commented:
    The metaphor you have used in this post, as “unfortunate” as it may be, is right on time..Just as our foremothers and forefathers didn’t struggle for Civil Rights so that one day we could have a black drone-happy president, the feminists amongst them didn’t struggle so that we could uncritically embrace entertainers of the Beyonce variety as THE definition of what it means to be a feminist. The most stirring, relevant aspect of those past feminists always had a strong anti-capitalist bent because they recognized its impact on what it means to be a woman. So I say thank you to the writer(s) and keep the faith.

  7. Thank God for this article. I was scratching my head about how even feminist activist sisters could go gaga over big corporate controlled created. produced and own artists like whatever her name is. Remember the goal of the corporate controlled media, including the music industry is to subjugate and control you and rob you, to victimize you. People sell their souls to make a living, to fulfill their dreams, to be rich, respected, powerful (happy–maybe not–we will never know); they have many reasons, many; but the corporate media, music, entertainment industry’s motive is clear. And they are the best in the mind control games they have mastered. Look how well they have even intelligent people fooled. I assume the Cuba trip was to make them look “radical, cool” and perhaps our country is even no opening up us travel to Cuba. In any case I have no deisre to be subjugated by anyone of any color who is the tool of big corporations. THere is nothing feminist about this artisit who looks whiter every day, sews another woman’s hair in her own, and performs on stage for money.

    I also know who is in control and isn;t here. I fully expect here and her children and husban to have nervous breakdowns of the sort caused by the lies they are living common in these circles.

  8. Thank you! Brilliant article!

  9. ASY says:

    This piece does a fantastic job of acknowledging Beyonce’s accomplishments without claiming more for her than is her due. I must say, though, that the commenter who suggested that “perform[ing] onstage for money” is an automatic sign of fatal compromise is waaay off base and against the carefully calibrated spirit of the original post. By that logic, James Brown’s “I’m Black and I’m Proud” had no impact, because it was a mass-produced record, played on corporate radio, by “the hardest working man in show business.” By this logic, the only true revolutionaries would be people who don’t have to work for money. Performing is Beyonce’s job, as being an academic is mine. So, unless someone is waiting for the moneyed elite to produce the revolution in their leisure time, we need to leave that ish back in the Renaissance, when “actress” was synonymous with prostitute.

  10. nina says:

    “Is a feminism sponsored by the corporate music industrial complex as big as we can dream? Is the end game a feminism in which the glass ceiling for black women’s representation only reaches as high as our booties? Can’t we just love Bey as an amazing corporate artist without selling out the hard won accomplishments of our black feminist and womanist foremothers? Can we not love her for the gorgeous and fierce mega pop star she is without appropriating her for some liberal, power feminist agenda?”
    SIGH. THIS. JUST THIS. the crux of all i have been tryna say. thank you. can we NOT LIKE HER for the same reasons? can we eschew this brand of “feminism” as the penultimate for women who don’t want or need some boojie-ass, book-learned, performance of feminism? where is the spectrum? why is it all this bottom crap or the toe-the-line i quote patricia hill collins? sigh. (and i am duly guilty, cuz i like ratchetness AND i like hooks and hill-collins and the rest.)

    • ms_micia says:

      Don’t you want more for yourself Nina? For your girl children *if you even want children which I don’t know since I don’t know you* Or maybe just for the girlfriend up the block or her daughter or your nieces. Don’t you want it to look like more than this???? These “intellectuals” are the reason that Bey can place a quote in a braggadocios song about money, ego and narcissism and have women singing her praises. There’s noone condemning you for liking Beyonce, I LIKE Beyonce too but I’d never in a million years disrespect what I consider the feminist/womanist movement by making her a part. She has NO CONTROL over the images she projects, This beautiful married mother of a little girl is showing more of her butt cheeks nowadays than I’ve seen in her decade plus long career. She’s regressing, and that’s not feminist. The fact that you refer to her and this as “ratchet” further proves the point that she shouldn’t be revered as any pioneer or even participant in the movement. Just call a spade a spade. She’s an entertainer. Period. Don’t get mad for others calling it out for what it is.

      • Jay says:

        It’s not regressing for someone to embrace their sexuality. No woman should feel like they need to cover up or be less sexual just because they’re getting older. If I had a daughter, I wouldn’t let anyone be her only role model. I would tell her that Beyonce is an amazing and hard working woman who realized that it’s ok to have sex and it’s ok to be sexy. That does not make you any less of a person. I would also tell her that she is more than her sexuality (Beyonce is much more than her butt cheeks). I would tell her to look at her mother and her aunts and grandmother. Look at the women they are because they are also hard working smart and successful women. I wouldn’t limit my child’s mind because by keeping her ignorant, outsiders will be able to tell her BS things like there is only one tract of feminism and that someone can’t be part of the movement.
        Women’s sexuality has been controlled by men for too long, so it’s never ok for another woman to turn around and try to control another woman in the same way.

  11. Katie says:

    loved this. thank you.

  12. […] as sexual subjects. To do so we must be willing to transgress traditional boundaries” DEC 15 2013 […]

  13. rahwas says:

    Now, I’m just gonna’ have to laugh at the only two comments in disagreement with this article are as incoherent and uncritical in thinking as they come. I am a female of color, and I approve this message; and I too, am gonna’ have to end it – towards the women who oppose this article – with a “GIRL[s] BYE!!!!!”

  14. this is the article i’ve been waiting for, and, alternately, trying to write. all the discourse has been so extreme! trying to carve out a spot between “deluded Illuminati-koolaid-drinking stan” and “conscious womanist black sister” was making my back hurt. i don’t even listen to much contemporary pop music, so the fact that this record intrigued me so, and captured so much of my imagination, made it even more frustrating that engaging in a nuanced conversation about it on social media was impossible. i am looking forward to hearing what you have to say in part 2.

    • afroblue says:

      Thank you.

      When we put our collective pride behind the ever whitening face of Diet Pepsi, I fear for our sanity and our future.

      If that 15.99 was going to do some good for black women and children who have suffered the most during the recession in real numbers, I’d say okay…. Well at least she’s giving back. But oh no honey. She can do what she wants. Have fun. But to call this feminist is like calling Clarence Thomas a progressive sensitive race man.

      The irony is that this Beyonce mess is all white women’s liberal feminism in black face. Black feminist collectives critiqued this way of thinking HARD. It is embarrassingly sad to think that those years of critical thinking skills/knowledge that we black women have always had… Have been erased and replaced by the idea that individual wealth at the expense of others and sexy narcissism are our inheritances as 21st Century black women.

      • J says:

        Bravo 10,000 times!!!!

      • Kate says:

        As he young people say these days…FACTS!!!

      • Bing says:

        Truth. Great article & great reply!! You said it much better than I was gonna try to. =) All this time I was thinking, she’s just acting like Cher/Madonna/JLo/Gaga/Miley… calling it powerful to shake a booty & get paid big for it. Um, she can tell herself it’s chocolate cake but it’s not powerful or feminism. It’s just classic big business capitalism/opportunism/using-what-god-gave-you. It’s especially sad that so many people (women & men) who “make it” all seem to think if they buy custom weird-ass toys/planes/cars/baby-clothes/shoes/hair/etc then it’ll prove they’re real stars… instead of using that power to challenge stereotypes or to at least *try* to concretely help us little people out. (much less challenging Clarence Thomas & the guys taking away women’s voting rights in TX etc.) – sad, embarrassingly sad is right.

  15. Keisha says:

    Haters everywhere. #StayPressed Bitches. Queen Bey slayed on you entire lives. The Album is OUTSTANDING by the way!

    • Jamie says:

      Have a seat.

    • CYSEVISION says:

      Your response was ignorant…From Black Man to Black Woman…You didn’t comprehend this post at all, therefore, should have omitted from responding to it.

    • Critical_Thinking_Is_Common_Sense2Me says:

      It’s sad that you don’t realize that she (Beyonce) is also slaying your entire life too. I find it unbelievably comical that Beystans and fans somehow believe that when Beyonce is “stunting” on haters and subtly dissing them in her songs that she’s somehow excluding them. She isn’t paying your bills or taking care of you, why do you people think she even cares about you outside of your patronizing her products?

  16. Flor Olivo says:

    This critique follows and supports the very liberal, usually white male ideology of consumerism. Yea Marxism, who I’ve never trusted. Fuck Marx. He places the idea that media is used to fuel a consumerist culture which informs many liberal ideologies. Ideologies that make folks of color, like myself, give up on pushing for change within the “system.” They also downplay people of color’s strides within the media industry, including the power of hip hop. This idea gives ground to the main purpose of white supremacist ideology and purpose to put people of color, “in their place.” Reminding us that our little advancements really have no value or power because we can’t really ever change shit, cause in the end all that matters is money and the economy. And that everything is about that in the end. That is the only thing people care about and that is the only thing that fuels anyone’s movements toward change. It tells women of color, like me, that our idealistic motivation isn’t real. That our art, our ideas, our power is part of a system that we buy into if we choose to invest within it. I can choose to believe how this album made me feel. I don’t have to buy into the idea that everyone ONLY cares about themselves and their money. So for now I’ll tell Marx’s white ass to not ruin my moment. And remind the woman of color (I think) that wrote this that her idea stemmed from a white man’s little seed of knowledge. Hip Hop emerged as a counter to white culture and white supremacy, I don’t think it can be critiqued the same way as other media.

    • Flor Olivo says:

      1. Marx and his analysis of the world was due to the fact he was born as a 1800’s white boy. This article feels as disconnected to people of color as Das Kapital. It expects Beyonce to be a part of the writers definition of feminism in order to be considered feminist. Its feels like a very elitist academic feminist article.

      2. I feel that it is an overly simplistic analysis of a small aspect of hip hop and it refuses to acknowledge the very real fact that hip hop is a resistance culture to white society. It takes a phenomenon 30 years in the making and dismisses it completely.

      3. It makes the time honored white liberal mistake of placing hip hop or any other black inspired cultural movement as the reason for societies ills. It reeks of white society burning mountains of Marilyn Manson CDs after Columbine. It sounds like Bob Dole and C. Dolores Tucker calling for a ban on Tupac. Like those critics of old the writer will fall to obscurity and Beyonce will be a cultural icon. Not for anything other than her ability to connect with her people. Something radicals have yet to do.

      4. The dismissal of Beyonce’s role and her power to inspire black and brown women to greater things is sad. The writer does to her what white men do to all women, defines her based on who she is married to…

      Quote: Admittedly, bottom bitch is an unfortunate metaphor to use for framing conversations about Beyonce, but when you’re married to “Big Pimp’n” and his cameo on your new self-titled album, coined a “feminist masterpiece,” is all about how he gon’…… you leave us no choice.

      Basically “it doesn’t matter what she says cuz look at this Jay Z quote.” They define Beyonce as a bottom bitch cuz of her husband!! That’s foul to me.

      I do feel the writer has some merit but its clouded by her simplistic black or white arguments.

      _baby daddy responses_

      • Rhys Williams says:

        You have some very muddled ideas about Marx / Marxism / Consumerism there. Marx didn’t say anything about the media promoting consumer culture, that came way after him. His basic point was that all oppression is fundamentally class oppression. In the US, discussions about class bleed into discussions about race very easily, but they are not the same thing. On the one hand, you are absolutely right to defend the achievements being made by people of colour in a culture that remains structurally racist to this day. On the other hand, these advancements do not touch the fundamental cause of oppression in the US (and everywhere else), which is, as you say, the economy – or more precisely, who owns the economy. And that DOESN’T mean that Marxism claims people ‘only care about themselves and money’ – far from it. This is what the status quo claims – the current economic system is largely based on rational-actor theory (everyone is selfish and just tries to get what they need), whereas Marxism very much disagrees, and is about community and equality for everyone (political AND economic).

        To take an example – you claim rap and hip-hop as “a resistance culture to white society”. Yeah? Why? What is your understanding of ‘white society’? Apart from the fact that it might upset some dyed-in-the-wool racists to see people of colour in the media and gaining success, I would argue that ‘white society’ has taken rap and hip-hop very easily on board, from its youth culture to its sanitised MTV shows, and really there are so many examples of white people NOT feeling threatened by rap and hip-hop I don’t even know where to start. And if by ‘white society’ you mean ‘the status quo’, then you’re even more off-base. Rap/Hip-Hop is an industry, it makes money. Sure, people of colour can make money there, as can whites. But the status quo doesn’t care who’s successful and who’s not, it cares that only a small minority of people are successful, and plenty of other people are not. It’s these latter people – the unsuccessful, whatever colour – that are always oppressed, racism or no racism.

        I am NOT saying that people of colour in the US do not experience oppression because of their race. Absolutely not. I am saying that even if racism was stripped away tomorrow, you would still have the huge number of people of colour being discriminated against, stopped-and-searched, way higher percentages of arrests, way higher numbers in jails, way higher predominance in poorer areas, and so on, because of their class status, not their race status. It’s complicated in the US because the two lines converge to such an extent, but they are not the same thing. The success of hip-hop and rap has struck a blow for people of colour in the world of culture, and media, and it is very hopefully part of a larger movement away from racism (here’s hoping…) but it leaves the basic social mechanisms that produce and reproduce the poor social conditions and positions of many people of colour by the way-side, and frankly, the majority of the (best-known) music is highly individualistic, and about nothing so much as ‘look how well I did’, with very little (not none, but very little) in the way of illustrating the basic causes of the problems faced. It’s me me me, or at best, me and my gang, and so very much in tune with the selfish status quo you claim it threatens. These are deep structural problems that require communities to organise together to begin to overcome, not a few rags to riches stories, that just keep things ticking over as they are.

      • Juanita T. says:

        I agree. I think the problem with most Black feminist critiques of Beyonce is that they seek to put her–and feminism for that matter, inside of a box. If anything her career has shown us, she doesn’t fit neatly into one little package. I’m not saying that she’s above criticism (she isn’t). The old adage of “It’s not what you say, but HOW you say it” comes to mind. We live in a world of contradictions, we all have them. I am a proud product of the hood, but I’m working on my Masters degree. I love hip hop for its brutal honesty, but hate the misogyny. I love to eat chocolate, but hate chocolate ice cream. I want to cater to my man, but not too often because it’ll make me appear “weak”. I love sensitive man, but he had better not be a pushover. We all have to navigate these feelings and I think that’s a big part of Beyonce’s every woman appeal despite her lavish lifestyle.

        I also think that the women who Black feminist/womanist blogs seek to reach aren’t connecting, like you mentioned. They could care less. Why is that? I think there is an air of non-intentional elitism in most of these circles. Most women are not feminist academics who read Audre Lorde in their spare time. And to expound on your point about how traditional feminism can sometimes perpetuate patriarchy not by the act of critiquing, but by the dismissive air of those critiques. Beyonce’s success is solely owed to her father and husband. Also the perpetuation of White supremacy in terms of labeling all mainstream hip hop as negative.

        Just my thoughts as straight, cis-gendered Black woman. *shrugs*

      • Jennifer says:

        Just one point. Hip-Hop STARTED as a resistance culture to white society. However, for the past 15 years the ONLY thing it has resisted is ITS ORIGINS. It’s now a tool of white society, being used to oppress the masses.

    • Nicci J. says:

      Amen to this!!

    • Clarence Fruster says:

      Yes Flor Olivo. As a man I was shocked to see so much clear cut misogyny & patriarchy used from a black woman towards another.

  17. Twaina says:

    Beyonce is not the problem. I feel she has done nothing wrong. This society and the social constructs in which we live and have to survive in, presents the problem. Our ancient African culture has been under attack by Christianity and Islam for thousands of years. Attacking Beyonce for her eroticism is short-sighted. Before Middle Passage, and the attack on African culture and spiritual systems, our African ancestors would erotically dance around camp fires. They adorned themselves in scantly clad costumes and brightly colored make-up to appease the Goddesses and Gods for fertility and for a suitable mate. Our ancient African ancestors performed these rituals for thousands of years. They sang, chanted, and screamed out erotic songs to the Goddesses/Gods. These were our traditions and they are not evil. Now that we have been converted to Christians and Muslims, and are now living within a different social construct from which we came, our views and understanding of sexuality has undergone a dramatic shift.

    • Nicci J. says:

      YES!!!! In a simple and direct sentence, you summed up this piece, “Attacking Beyonce for her eroticism is short-sighted.”

      • nubiess says:

        I’m really enjoying the discourse. The concepts of African spirituality and the Orishia warm my heart. Yes she is channeling Oshun and bringing ancient dances to the masses. I wonder if they really experienced the culture in their travels or just took a dance class.
        What I’d like to understand how does eroticism equate to glorified prostitution, domestic violence, or self degradation? I heard a lot of play on words throughout the album that had me gasp. I dont think our ancestors would co-sign what she and her husband are singing about. “Eat the cake Ana Mae.” Eat it. And then I’m going to rape you like someone i o6dont respect or love. Yes rewind it. i love making love and having passionate sex with my mate. But if he chokes me or start calling me any type of bitches. I’m going off. Submissiveness can be sexy. Rape and murder never are. Domestic violence isnt the family business either. Yes. Money, popularity, attention and everyone knows your song. Yes they got it. But at what expense? They selling us fuckery and ratchetedness in a mason jar. keep sipping.

  18. Twaina says:

    Now that Beyonce has further mainstreamed African secret ritual fertility dances and eroticism, will she invest much of that money into poor Black communities? If she doesn’t then it was all for nothing.

  19. People are so ignorant. Why criticise this piece of work without providing an alternative argument. I for one as a black woman do not think that Beyonces latest works does anything positive for black women. Instead it further objectifies us. If Beyonce the biggest star in the world feels it necessary to show her ass and twerk on a car whilst making sex faces at her husband what hope is there for the rest of us? Even she cannot envision being successful without buying into and glorifying the status quo. But what can we expect from a woman who tells ‘bitches’ to ‘bow down’? The fact that her tour is called “The Mrs Carter show” provides an insight into where she sees herself. As the wife of Jay Z rather than an individually amazing performance artist. What hope is there for our daughters?

    • Nicci J. says:

      She objectifies herself by making sex faces at her husband. Not random men on the street. But. Her. Husband. Hmmm…well that’s a new one.
      She called her tour Mrs. Carter Show, while singing a song called Bow Down with a line the boldly states “don’t think i’m JUST his little wife.” Grab our little girls and hold them tight, can’t let them see a woman reverencing her relationship AND asserting her individuality at the same time. Oh no.

  20. Veronica says:

    I’m a fan of careful and thoughtful critique about this album, but I have to raise an issue with drawing comparisons between Beyonce’s relationship with her husband and “bottom bitches” and their pimps, or pornography. What’s missing in A LOT of critique about the sexual nature of this album is consideration that Beyonce is, in fact, singing and celebrating her intimate partnership. This isn’t a woman primping and posturing for patriarchal consumption, but rather a woman exhibiting — and celebrating! — the sexual trust she has in her partner… which is HUGE.

    Shakesville has a post on this which I think is useful to add to this dialogue: http://www.shakesville.com/2013/12/safe.html An excerpt:

    “Here’s the thing: I am a survivor of sexual violence, and the particular way in which Beyoncé is sexy with her partner feels to me like a demonstration of sexual trust. That’s something I had to work for so hard, and it is profoundly compelling to me to see images of a woman in a sexual context who clearly feels safe. That’s powerful.

    …And maybe it’s worth questioning what ends it serves to engage in criticism of a woman of color being sexy in this way or that way, while casually eliding evidence of her being loved and safe and in control of her choices.”

    • Telania says:

      Thank you for putting this in the words I was struggling to find.

    • Nicci J. says:

      Beautiful retort. The authors of this piece completely, and rudely, misstepped with the comparison between a woman who is manipulated and controlled and a woman who is exercising her right to make sexual choices in the confines of her marriage.

  21. See says:

    I think it’s sad that this whole article is based on how media has interpreted Beyoncé’s work, deeming it a ‘feminist’ piece of art when Beyoncé herself has not done so. If you listened to the French Monologue on Partition, you’d understand what her motive was for many of the videos on this album. It said that ‘men believe the feminist dislike sex. But sex is natural’. And it is. So I find it sad that so many of you are consumed with the ‘ she’s objectifying herself’ drivel that feminists often put out, making themselves look frigid and unwelcoming. We look at a successful, powerful woman, maybe the most powerful in the world, and she is BLACK, and yet all that goes down the drain because she chose to let you know that she can do whatever she wants and it will NOT define her. I find it disgusting that black women consistently find ways to destroy each other. Her successes are not that big a deal because she’s lighter-skinned, you say. When will it end? The pull-me-down attitude and the over-analysis of simple artistic expression? I am a Stan, not because I think she’s ‘flawless’ or makes the best music in the world… But because this year she sung at the inauguration, did the super bowl half-time show, went on a world tour, and released an album with 14 songs and 17 videos. All while raising a family. Hate her videos. Hate her music. Heck, hate her sexuality, but you cannot hate her work ethic. You cannot say she got to where she is simply by shaking her ass and sucking some white dick. And oh yea, feminism is feminism. Labeling it white or black is part of the reason women in general are still in the shit hole we are in today. The inability to look beyond color is the reason why we are where we are.

  22. See says:

    The whole point of this album was so Beyoncé could speak to her fans directly, without misinterpretation or the over-analysis that comes with releasing singles and promos etc. she wanted people to hear her story directly from her. She’s saying, why is it ok for men to be sexual beings, but women cannot? It’s ok for D’Angelo or John Legend to sing about giving women the best dick of their lives but she can’t sing about pleasuring her husband? That’s the mistake feminists make: that being sexual detracts from the feminist movement because it furthers men’s objectification of us. But being sexual doesn’t detract from the feminist movement any more than being motherly does! We are sexy, caring, compassionate, AND intelligent, AND formidable, AND powerful. We are everything ‘they’ believe us to be and so much more. You say Bey sexualized herself to sell records? She sold 40,000 records in 3 hrs and we had NO CLUE if she’d be standing in a monastery praying for the whole entire album. She would sell if she’d been talking bout the Virgin Mary the whole album. And people still would be stanning because of what she represents: the success that comes from working her ass off every dat. And it’s pathetic to see people detract from that because it’s ‘commercial’ or ‘corporate’. Like we’re all not working 9-5 to make a living and become successful. You are creating a narrow definition for success which none of you behind your computers are walking yourself. If being successful as a woman is dependent on being independent from ‘white corporate America’, then you are telling 99.9% of black women in America today that everything they’ve done up to now is a failure. That’s pathetic. Success in spite of it? In spite of being in a white male dominated world? That is to be applauded.

  23. See says:

    But no. We sit here doing what men do. Boxing women in. What a woman should or shouldn’t do. Men said women shouldn’t work, only cater to a man. Women today say women shouldn’t sexualize themselves and cater to a man. And yet men have no such restrictions. They can do whatever they want. And that’s what I disagree with. The notion that a woman has to fit in one box or the other. THAT is what TRUE feminists should be fighting against. A woman should be able to do whatever the hell she wants without criticism from ANYONE. It should be her prerogative as a human being, equal to any man, to do whatever the hell she wants with her body, time or mind. Myopic feminism, a feminism that seeks not to uplift women but to constantly contend with men and the way they perceive women is useless. I’m an educated woman who graduated an ivy-league and is on my way to pursue and MBA. When I listen to Beyoncé on Flawless I feel like I’m unstoppable. That I can make it no matter what anyone says about me. So keep being bogged down by minor nuances and myopic mindedness… And miss the powerful positive message going out to a multitude of black women trying to succeed

  24. Julia says:

    can I reblog this on my blog? You have so succinctly captured what I’ve been thinking.

  25. Markiesha says:

    First issue I take with this article is the comparison of a bottom bitch to the term boss. A boss is not a woman with the soul purpose of riding hard for her man like a bottom bitch, a boss is a woman who can sustain herself (financially and otherwise) without the input of a man and only allows the input if she wants, not because society says she needs it.

    The other issue I have with the article. Is that by starting out with the definition of bottom bitch, the author implies that Beyoncé is not for the betterment of of her fellow women. I completely disagree. While Beyoncé has never titled herself a feminist, she has expressed a concern for empowering woman.

    Last but not least, the author focuses on Beyonce’s sexuality as an affront to feminist and I would say this is completely the opposite. I am a feminist, I am sexual, and there are many feminist who would argue the owning of one’s sexuality as innately feminist (I.e. Staceyann Chin).

    The author has strong but misplaced opinions on feminism. How un-feminist it is to tell another woman how to assert her strengths and sexuality. Just because Beyoncé uses a corporate backed platform to show her strength as a woman, I as a feminist do not see this as the end game of the feminism.

  26. Daisy says:

    This was far reaching and quiet honestly, sounds as if it were written by a white feminist. White feminism hates when a Black woman decides to do what she wants & displays her freedom for the world to see. They would rather we kept in line, continued being the “good, magical negro” & stay one dimensional. This was one of the most insulting pecies written by a black woman about another black woman. This is the crabs in the bucket pulling each other down. Disgusting.

    • We’re strong black women just adding our perspectives to the mix. This also isn’t about riding for whiite feminism – not all Black feminists agree in our analysis and that makes for healthy dialogue, debate and hopefully real world change. Dissent shouldn’t be racialized.

  27. Parry moss says:

    Congratulations Beyonce, and yes this is an important critique. It extols exactly what I’ve been wondering. How Beyonce’s work can be tied to standard bearer feminist entertainers and writers like Lorraine Hansberry, Lauryn Hill and Toni Morrison. I don’t think it can. Beyonce is one of the most captivating entertainers of her generation. Major props due. Her marketing plan was pure genius, one that will be studied and copied for a long time. That makes her successful, it doesn’t make her a feminist, yet.

  28. 360 says:

    Amen, See.

  29. […] the problem with beyhive bottom bitch feminism Via real colored girls wordpress […]

  30. Stacey Ware says:

    As women we over analyze and criticize each other TOO MUCH, this woman is breaking barriers and making history through music that she loves. Why cant she just be great, let her be great. She is GROWN. She wanted to sing songs a married 33 year old woman would sing about. I am glad she came out of what her label wanted to be by creating this record instead of twerking on Robin Thicke during a performance for attention. #letherbegreat

  31. Nikki says:

    thank you so very much sista for this article. I was contemplating just last night all of the things I wanted to express in an article in regards to this very topic. you wrote it all and so eloquently might I add. there is nothing left to say. if we are to indeed “bow down….” then it should be to the likes of a real queen bee, you are that.

  32. kesele says:

    why does beyonce have to be critiqued CONSTANTLY as being a worthy feminist?

    did she ever make the claim?

    critique her music and image all you want, but i think folks are putting a lot of BLACK WOMANIST responsibility on her shoulders when it’s not all that serious.

    i don’t remember janet jackson being critiqued like this.

  33. - says:

    This whole little essay was pointless and really angered me. Music is art. The way she chooses to express herself this whole “bottom birch theory” that you’ve come up with is beyond ridiculous and it comes off that you are babbling on about something that’s not even an issue. It’s one thing to be a proud black woman as I am myself, but there’s another thing to be a so called proud black woman and attack everything another black woman does. Honestly beyonce could have put out a record about ANYTHING & people will find a way to attack it. I’m not really surprised but I believe that this article is just over doing it. There’s no way that a negative vibe should’ve been taken from “Flawless”. So my wish is for you to find something else that is more worthy of criticism to rant about.

    Wake up Flawless! :)

    Be blessed

  34. lew says:

    I really disagree with this article and most of the comments. Everyone doesn’t sell their souls for fame and to be rich nor being sexual makes you any less of a feminist than the next woman. Enough with bashing each, I do understand the right to one’s opinion because I am in fact posting mine. When will we as women and race learn to celebrate each others accomplishments?

  35. Actually Beyonce has called herself a feminist: It’s other so-called ‘feminists’ that seem to have a real problem with that. Because even feminism is a victim of the patriarchy, and some folks just want the power to decide who gets to be a ‘real feminist’. We need to do better. ALL OF US. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/beyonce-calls-herself-a-modern-day-feminist-20130403

  36. tomasiaworkz says:

    and as we all know bey has an EPIC influence on young girls of color who are literally learning/mimicking woman-ness thru her words and actions and various sonic and visual representations delivered via misogynist racist corporate machines. they memorize every word and it becomes a mantra in their young malleable minds…”i might be YOUNG but i’m READY to give you all my love. i told my girls you can get it. don’t slow it down just let it go. so tonight i’ll give it all away, just don’t tell nobody tomorrow…OK so yes, sex is natural but the girls memorizing these lyrics are as young as 10 years old. this permission from Bey to “give it all away” and “do it every way” is just plain irresponsible, cavalier and destructive given a climate which oversexualizes our girls and pushes them into sexuality they may not be ready for

    • See says:

      I was listening to Tina Turner, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, TLC, Sade, Toni Braxton, Diana Ross etc etc sing about sex and watching them parade their sexuality, and I was never pushed into sexuality. I did not have sex as a teen. I did not end up on a stripper pole or as the sexual slave to any man. I understood these messages, but I also understood that they were not meant for me, because I was raised to understand that. Women, and men, cannot continuously push their duties of raising their children on these celebrities. Given, some kids will do what they want to do regardless, but it isn’t Beyonce’s responsibility to raise anyone’s child for them. If you don’t want your kid listening to that message, that’s YOUR responsibility as a parent to prevent that, or to teach them the context of these messages. YOUNG is objective. Beyonce is YOUNG. and she is READY. You say all these things but forget the fact that Bey dated Jay for how long before she married him? If anything her relationship with Jay has been a great example to young people today, including myself.

  37. Great article! I love Bey’s music and think she is an overall positive role model for girls but she is definitely not the quintessential feminist. In a way, I’m glad people attach that label to her because at least they aren’t hurling it as an insult (as step up). However, whenever people try to site her I just say “I see your Beyonce and raise you Janelle Monae and Esperanza Spalding.”

  38. Gris says:

    Thank you! I teach a class on Transnational Feminisms at the City College of NY. I cringe at the articles boasting about Beyonce being a “bad ass feminist bitch”. I cringe even more when fellow sister students glorify these articles for their “feminist” analysis. Thank you for sharing and thank you for letting folks know what time it is!

  39. Thank you for these thoughts. I’m deeply concerned that we as women are only recognized as successful in relation to our sensuality. This is even more disturbing when we congratulate each other amongst ourselves using the same standards as the patriarchy.

  40. April Albright says:

    You know the song, “Last night a DJ saved my life”. Well last night this article saved my life. All day long I was suffocating at the thought that Beyonce’s self entitled new Album was being labeled as a Feminist Manifesto. I could not believe what I was reading even from sisters who I believe would otherwise just know better.

    One thing is for sure, we have got to keep the discussion of feminism/womanism started by our sisters Audre Lorde, Bell Hooks and others moving forward. Bhow do we do this!!

  41. Nicci J. says:

    because…this piece gave me so much angst. because…this piece is so sadly limited in perspective. because…this piece didn’t look to simmer down what they claimed was the crowning of beyonce as queen feminist, it looked to take her out of the feminist conversation period. and because of these things I had to respond… http://oneofdemartsychics.tumblr.com/post/70193782957/how-this-colored-girl-feels-about-your-thoughts-on

    • See says:

      That is EXACTLY what this article does: Look at her entire body of work from a misogynist perspective… focus on where they believe she went wrong and not on all the places she went right. Her messages in Pretty Hurts, Heaven, Ghost, etc etc have powerful messages, not only about sex, and womanhood, but about life in general. The honest truth is that most of the people who agree with this article have not listened to or seen the entire body of work, and are only speaking off the few images they’ve seen and lines they’ve heard like those quoted in the article.The picture they’ve painted of her and her work is not only myopic but completely wrong. To label her success as VICARIOUS???? VICARIOUS????? Beyonce was Beyonce before Jay. Jay could NEVER have release an album with no warning and sold 600,000 copies in 3 days. To take any woman’s success and pin it to a man’s existence in her life is disgusting and an affront to women everywhere. Suddenly you can’t be loyal to and care for your man without being a pimp ho. It’s so sad, but thankfully I am blessed to be surrounded by a new generation of feminists who are not ashamed to cater to their men and the needs of their children while building a formidable empire (and might I note that ‘catering to’ is not one-directional… I’m sure Jay ‘caters to’ her needs too! LOL). One does not detract from the other.

      • Nicci J. says:

        AND THIS HERE!! I think the most appalling part of this article is how they say Beyoncé is ruled by patriarchy and yet, they deemed her present status as an extension and dictation of her man. This woman is who she is because of SHE. The patriarchal irony is making me itch.
        And I agree with you, I’m proud to be surrounded by womanists and feminists that allow accepting definitions and expressions, cause I love my man, and support him. And he supports me. But I made me first, I am an individual first, with my own career and ambitions, that I determine and not him. I can’t understand why people refuse to acknowledge that about Beyoncé…and mainly, because of how she dresses. Smh.

  42. This is absurd. Clearly doesn’t know or listen to Beyonce. If you hate this crap, follow me! I have written an article about Beyonce being King, and my next article is called “Beyonce the Feminist” !!!

  43. In her autobiography, Assata Shakur wrote (paraphrase) that she didn’t dig Marx “and all them white boys” but in order to understand what revolutionary Africans (diasporan and continental) were talking about she had to dig into it more. I feel as if most of the commentators posting here in an anti-vein haven’t taken the effort to do the same type of digging. This results in an understanding that Beyonce, simply because she is a black woman, should be embraced, even if what she manifests supports a dying capitalism/colonialism (to incorporate Fanon)as well as patriarchy. In this way, the commentators are, objectively speaking, buying into the American (read white) definition of what it means to be a black woman. In other words, in their world view, it’s enough that she’s a black woman and she should be embraced on that alone thus reinforcing what I call the Obamanization of critique.

    • micah says:

      Yes! and there are plenty of critics of (white) american, patriarchical captitalism (now consumerism) who weren’t white males, and some good ones who are.

      And is that really a solid argument anyway? that “this article sounds like marx, marx is a ‘white boy’, therefore this article has no ground”?

      Beyonce is beautiful and a very good artist, but she is not the only kind of beatiful. Why is she idolized as though she were some exclusive standard of black, female beauty?

  44. tomasiaworkz says:

    I am familiar with this line of reasoning…

    “raise our own kids, stop expecting entertainers to raise them for you”

    and it misses the point entirely. I don’t think there is a single parent on earth who expects entertainers to raise their kids. That’s illogical and impossible. This line of reasoning attempts to deny the very real and documented affect that the multi billion dollar entertainment industry has on the minds of our youth no matter how thorough their parenting is. The fact is, the entertainment industry markets directly to youth and spends millions of dollars on research and development with target groups of teens that are questioned on “whats hot” and the like to get into their minds and find out how to sell to them. Merchants of Cool, a PBS documentary breaks this down well.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/

    Youth are one of the biggest consumer bases in the country. Their natural interest in sex is being exploited in order to sell and this perpetuates sexual norms in our society that are blown out of all proportion because of the marketing element. It means the sexual norms of our society become dominated by market interests and not the social interests of healthy eroticism, love and community. And the effect is cumulative, it’s getting worse with time as capitalism advances and the entertainment industry develops it’s marketing apparatus to astronomical levels. Now entertainment has little to do with art and everything to do with wealth accumulation.

    Parenting in a bubble is impossible especially now with socioeconomic stresses creating an environment in which kids spend less and less time with their parents because parents must work longer and longer hours in order to survive. Single mothers who are frequently raising girls of color find it especially hard to shield their children from outside influences. Really, it is impossible. It’s like trying to hold back the ocean with a dam made of twigs. We have every right to hold the entertainment industry accountable.

    • See says:

      What you’re saying is, because there are kids who may be listening, I, a grown black woman, cannot have music and images that I enjoy at my disposal? That’s like saying, don’t produce condoms, cos kids might think it’s ok to have sex if they can buy them! You cannot stop expression! Just as we’re here stating our opinions on someone’s body of work, Beyonce also has the freedom to express her ideas about life and sex and music. You are basically saying her message is BAD because kids, who should not be listening to it in the first place will be led astray by it. We cannot blame Beyonce for that. I completely understand what you’re saying about media being pervasive. I agree. But you CAN raise your kids to know better. It’s BEEN done. And there are always alternatives for role models if you don’t like Beyonce and her sexuality… Janelle Monae for one! And as for parents having to work long hours, I understand… but that’s why we need to raise our kids as a community. I was raised by my grandparents, my aunts, uncles, family friends, even my friends’ parents’ and siblings and teachers. I love Beyonce and I loved all those other women singing about sex when I was 6 years old, and I turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.

      • tomasiaworkz says:

        Of course you did! Sex is great and singing about sex can be beautiful. BUT what I am saying is that when marketers target adolescents and teens and sell sex to them, a line is being crossed that we should be aware of and advocate against. I believe that Beyonce’s lyrics in that song (my favorite Beyonce song, by the way The beat is ridiculous and I love Andre 3000) are alluding to teen sex because she (or whoever wrote it) is aware that her fan base is made up largely of adolescents and teens. It’s like when 50 did Candy Shop. I don’t think adults should be flirting with themes of adolescent sexuality which is normal but no place for adult entertainers or marketing schemes. That’s crossing the line! It’s not really about Bey but the whole entertainment apparatus which should be carefully critiqued and examined. Follow the money and observe the impact on society. Maybe I am saying that kids should just not be marketed to, it’s too dangerous. Maybe they deserve some sort of protected status. Anyway, nice engaging in healthy debate with you. I will check out your other posts when I have time

      • micah says:

        I don’t think they were saying her message is bad. They were saying that her work is distorted by the capitalist machinery in ways that compromise the development of more inclusive and grounded kinds sexuality in our culture.

        “It means the sexual norms of our society become dominated by market interests and not the social interests of healthy eroticism, love and community”

        In nearly every video (preview) I’ve seen, Beyonce’s body is given amplified, filtered representation. In some, eroticism and focus on her body makes sense, because it fits the song. But in others it’s cartoonish and exaggerated! In some songs her body is being split from the rest of the art, channelled in a monolithic way, away from the content of her lyricism and her musicality. they are still present but they are no longer connected to the representations of Beyonces body. It’s almost shizophrenic, but it’s a powerful standard many people follow in their own sexualization. Our sexuality is painted on like clown paint, even when it doesn’t fit.

        Look at the representations of female news anchors presenting extremely serious and grave content. You will see another example of what I’m talking about. Like did you really have to show that robotic arm camera flyby of this woman’s legs in the discussion of the school shooting? No, you didn’t and it was distracting. But when we go to commercial break, I’m gonna pay more attention to the sponsors who are using this same kind of thing to sell me cell phone plans.

        Does Beyonce confront this in her music? I dunno because I haven’t paid up. Perhaps Beyonce as a person needs to be applauded for the contents, but Beyonce the music industry domesticated artist persona marketing vehicle is on to the next one.

        I have a feeling Beyonce isn’t entirely in control of these elements. But don’t take my word for it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Spe7yQ6EFw

  45. Clarence Fruster says:

    I know as a man my voice isn’t needed here but I’d like to share my 2 cents:

    1. I feel like Beyonce’s exclusivity & inaccessibility make this article make little to no sense. This article essentially makes the argument that a Chanel bag can be bought at Forever 21. It cannot be.

    2. After watching many Black Men tear Kanye down over #Yeezus (& inviting closet racists to join in with impunity) I’d like to state the dangerously obvious. Black people need to be critical of one-another, but we are no where near where we need to be in this society that we should reserve our greatest scorn for one another. The author literally had to overlook a world of more pressing & serious issues where women are concerned to write this. So with that said, I think this was written with selfish intentions.

  46. Reblogged this on cerebellumtellum and commented:
    “The coontocracy of assimilationist corporate Negroes is in full effect, riding for patriarchal capitalist agendas and having us believe that somehow Bey’s success is a step toward some dystopic vision of progress for Black women.”

  47. Very well written. You can’t expect the ignorant to see beyond their ignorance. Love the “coontocracy” part.

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