My first notice of last night’s VMA performances came from my “Camille Paglia” Google alert. Someone wanted a Paglia analysis STAT. Curious, I checked my feminist feeds for some reaction context. They were either glowing about Beyonce’s Divine Feminism, asking as MTV did, “What more could we have asked for?” or silent.
Then I watched and I understood.
I’m all for sexy women. Being a feminist shouldn’t mean that old trope about not ever being sexy. But I’m more than sure that feminist thought fights against the notion of women as primarily a sexual being.
So I admit, I am stunned to find proud feminists this morning, like Jessica Valenti who is waiting to pounce upon the expected irrelevant feminism article, heaping praise on a performance by a scantily-clad Beyonce, with glitter-lubed backup dancers in thongs presenting their asses to all in face down submission, singing songs with refrains such as, “I can’t wait to get home and you can take my cherry out” and “Bow down bitches”.
All this from the performer who will feature prominently on the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack. (Beyonce sings the song in the trailer.) In case anyone is unfamiliar with the feminist implications of 50 Shades of Grey, here is a lengthy but worth the read book review notable both for the declaration that even people who see a distinction between bondage sex play and misogynistic aggression consider 50 Shades solidly in the misogyny category and that Twilight–that nadir of women’s empowerment– is a much more nuanced and tolerant story. (I put both Beyonce’ s VMA performance and the 50 Shades trailer after the jump as neither are safe for work.)