As a member of Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé once asked her man, “Can you pay my bills?” but now Queen Bey is posing that question to society at large.
In a recent essay titled “Gender Equality Is A Myth” featured in Maria Shriver’s new The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, Beyoncé puts forth a plea to both women and men, asking for equality in the workforce.
“We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality,” Bey writes. “It isn’t a reality yet. 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.”
This feminist proclamation comes as no surprise given Bey’s recent self-titled album release, which features feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the track “***Flawless” proclaiming: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you will threaten the man.”
Bey echoes Adichie’s statement later in her essay, saying: “Humanity requires both men and women, and we are equally important and need one another. So why are we viewed as less than equal? These old attitudes are drilled into us from the very beginning. We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.”
Beyoncé’s relationship with feminism has been both praised — by Grimes and Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna in particular — and critiqued by all manner of pundits this year and last. While her “girls, we run this mutha” mantra has earned her some thumbs-ups, her scantily clad physique in the videos for Beyonce have elicited the opposite reaction.
“We don’t often see women in bodysuits writhing around on cars except when — I don’t know, it’s Maxim magazine, so it does feel like a performance for the benefit of men,” Jezebel‘s Anna Holmes told NPR of Bey’s new visual album.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Plank, executive social editor at PolicyMic, told MTV News: “Empowerment doesn’t come from the appropriation of other women’s bodies, it comes from the ownership over your own sexuality. Beyoncé singing an ode to the cunnilingus did that.”
A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back is available online for free download and features essays from Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Beyoncé, Eva Longoria, LeBron James, Jada Pinkett Smith, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Sheryl Sandberg.