On Monday February 4th, the news, social media sites, and school hallways were abuzz with talk of one thing, and one thing only- Beyoncé’s halftime performance at the Super Bowl. Teenagers were particularly enamored with the star’s performance. Statuses, profile pictures and cover photos were dedicated in her honor and even I admit to shouting, “She is fierce,” while my friends nodded in agreement. However, members of older generations were not nearly as taken with Beyoncé’s show as we teens. After every person in my history class vehemently praised her, my teacher shrugged and asked us what the big deal was- wasn’t she just grinding on stage? This got me thinking- during her performance, when she wasn’t singing, Beyoncé did spend the majority of her time grinding. Yet somehow, her provocative dance moves made her seem even more confident and strong. I grudgingly admitted to myself that Beyoncé’s strength and “fierceness” stemmed from her using her sexuality for power. But something about this admission didn’t feel right- she didn’t have the same air of someone trying pathetically hard, like Kim Kardashian. Her dance moves at the halftime show felt more like a joyful celebration of her physique rather than an insecure use of her body to gain respect. Therefore, assuming that a girl is confident and comfortable with herself, is it wrong for her to use her sexuality for power?
The way I see it, today in our society a woman has to choose one of two routes if she intends to become powerful: she can use her body to work her way up or she can become the intimidating, masculine, generally disliked “ball-buster.” A perfect example of these two scenarios is the conflict between Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential election. The Saturday Night Live skit featuring Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton satirized the boxes that women in politics are put into and the absurd labels they are forced to adopt. Throughout the skit Fey winks, giggles and accentuates her stupidity while Poehler, with the look of someone crazed with sleep deprivation, makes snide, ruthless comments about how she wants to be president.
Like any young person I aspire to be successful and influential; however, the available methods of obtaining these goals as a female don’t appeal to me. It’s upsetting to think that I might be deterred from joining the male-dominated corporate world in fear that one of these labels will be forced on me too. Although these values and stereotypes have been socially constructed, the chances of women ever being able to actively change them are slim. Therefore, kudos to Beyoncé for coming off confident and powerful- it’s the best she could do to demonstrate her happiness in a society quick to demean and discriminate against women.
Image from: http://bleacherreport.com