Beyonce’s performance at the Grammy’s was entertaining in her trademark freakish, better in-person, over-the-top performance art kind of way. It’s the Bey brand that is so beloved the world over that it has its own religion. For the unimpressed, it’s best not to take Bey too seriously. A glance beyond face value could kill you in that Raiders of the Lost Ark kind of way. Or, as was the case for the usually spot-on Naomi Schaefer Riley, you could go into the kind of highly ineffective, rather repetitive Beyonce-induced rage storm that gives pro-family critics a bad name.
Stomping on Bey’s mother-themed Grammy’s appearance, Schaefer Riley declared in an op-ed for the New York Post, “Having a baby isn’t a miracle and being a mother doesn’t make you a goddess.” Cite as many examples of uncomfortable pregnant bodies and birth statistics as you’d like; having a baby is a miracle. The fact that Beyonce celebrates pregnancy as such is a good thing and an idea that any pro-family person should applaud. Human life that is, for some, so hard to create and for all of us in one way or another so damned hard to maintain is miraculous. If we don’t uphold that standard, we are hypocrites to our own pro-family beliefs.
What is so irksome is the lost point in Schaefer Riley’s critique: Beyonce is the Holy Mother of the death cult known as contemporary feminism. Beyonce, who has glorified spousal abuse, public sex acts, and body image while ordering her female subjects to “bow down bitches” is now the goddess of motherhood and sweet, cuddly babies. Nihilism and procreation are polar opposites, yet Beyonce is worshiped as a baby mama by the same sector of the American public that proudly defends abortion rights. It’s a mind-numbing paradox to be sure, but let’s address it directly instead of burying it in complaints about the general lack of humility among female celebrities who’ve commented on motherhood. The issue isn’t whether or not childbirth is a miracle. The issue is why motherhood is suddenly and radically being glorified.
Pro-family critics openly attack the fact that women push off both marriage and children until they’re close to the end of their fertility window. They love brandishing statistics on decreased fertility rates and threaten the increased use of medical interventions like IVF to conceive children. They bemoan our culture’s shrinking birth rate. You can’t back up all of this moaning and wailing with, “Oh, having a baby isn’t hard so just shut up already,” when it’s a female celebrity in your target demographic doing the talking.
Perhaps Adele finds it hard to be a mother because she finds it difficult to pursue the career culture demands of her while wanting to do nothing more than spend time with her children. Maybe Kerry Washington finds it amazing that she was finally allowed to eat what she wanted for nine months instead of what an on-set dietitian or her agent thought she should be eating. And, for as much as we rake on her, Beyonce might just be glorifying pregnancy because she knows what it’s like to suffer a pregnancy loss. We forget that while these women are celebrities they are, nonetheless, women who encounter the same personal challenges as the rest of us.
So, in the interest of changing the culture in order to alleviate some of those challenges, let us pro-family critics point to Beyonce’s latest Grammy’s performance and say: “Look at how awesome it is to have kids. Why are we making it so hard? Why are we pushing young girls to rush into careers that will require them to spend nearly a decade of their prime baby-making time in school? Why aren’t we teaching about family planning, career timing and IVF in sex ed classes? Why aren’t we re-structuring our culture to welcome part time and flex time opportunities for working moms?” That’s how to use a Hollywood performance to advance your own political opinions. Let’s have a little more of that, right-wing America, and a lot less “get off my lawn”.
Image via YouTube.