Beyonce had some feminists excited and definitely started a buzz after the word “FEMINIST” was lit up behind her during her 2014 MTV Video Music Awards performance to her song “flawless.” Beyonce’s influence and that performance led to a new college course at the University of Waterloo in their drama and speech communication department.
The course will focus on the impact of Beyoncé’s 2013 album, Beyoncé. In the track Flawless, Beyonce included a portion of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx talk titled, “We should all be feminists.”
The professor at the Canadian University who will be teaching the course described what it’s all about and according to CBC she said:
“I had to take up the work of this performer who is astute, an astute businesswoman, who is articulating a kind of feminism that is fascinating and very much of the 21st century and is definitely a mainstream feminism,” said Naila Keleta-Mae, a professor at Waterloo who will teach the course this fall. “I was really interested in thinking about her work more critically.”
“This is not an ode to Beyoncé, where we sit back and watch her videos and think about fully how amazing she is. What we have to think about is her influence and her impact, and what is the messaging that she is articulating, not only through words, but also through images,” said Keleta-Mae.
“That was the first time that Beyoncé had explicitly taken up this feminism in this particular way,” said Keleta-Mae of the track. But that doesn’t mean the track is without problems, according Keleta-Mae, who notes the chorus has the singer repeating “Bow down bitches, bow, bow down bit***s.”
“It’s this maddening juxtaposition between, we should all be feminists and we should all be equal, simultaneously this hierarchical call that she is better than everyone else and we should bow down and supplicate to Queen Beyoncé ,” said Keleta-Mae.
And the feminist theme doesn’t cancel out other problematic messages on the same album, she says. For example Jay-Z’s line, “Eat the cake, Anna Mae” in Drunk in Love references a scene from the Tina Turner biopic, where abusive husband Ike shoves cake in her face in a diner.
“That song has millions of views on Vevo and is performed and known and folks know all of the lyrics off by heart,” said Keleta-Mae. “And it has this incredibly violent and problematic and difficult moment.”