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Musogyny: Who run the world?

Everyone knows it’s a man’s world out there (thanks James Brown), but there is none more so than the big bad world of music. From Miley’s twerking to Sinead’s slut shaming, these last months have seen an upward trajectory in the debate around gender issues within music.

Rest assured that we here at Planet Notion will be keeping a keen eye on all things sexism. And there may even be some naming and shaming along the way…

Now that the dust is clearing on another Beyonce feminist argument, a few things still remain unsaid in the fight between traditionalists and the Queen of Pop.

For those who missed the drama, last month saw the release of Beyonce’s controversial video for steamy single ‘Partition’. Featuring fantastical lyrics about having sex in the back of a limo with her husband Jay Z, the song lay very much towards the XXX end of the spectrum than say ‘Single Ladies’.

With visuals largely focussing on Beyonce getting down and dirty, it was enough get everyone but the KKK hot and steamy under the collar. Inevitably though such explicit burlesque successfully upset the more conservative commentators, who claimed as she is leading role model to young and impressionable girls stripping should stay fully off the cards.

One such criticism unsurprisingly came from Fox News’ anchor Bill O’Reilly, who in an interview with Deaf Jam record label founder Russell Simmons said “I believe that an entertainer like Beyonce and a mogul like you have an obligation to protect children, not put out exploitative garbage that you know harms impressionable children. I think Beyonce, what she has done here is inexplicable.”

As poor Russell Simmons was only there to talk about meditation, O’Reilly’s comments seemed fairly forthright and unreasonable from the off. As a music and media mogul though, he managed to come back with the view that young people’s boundaries lie within real life moral compasses and not what pop stars want to get up to in the back of limos saying “My daughters make choices based on the inspiration we give them as parents.”

In the wake of Miley Cyrus’ sexualised revamp, where questions were raised on her integrity as a teen role model, the backlash to the ‘Partition’ video could be seen as valid. However, there are differences.

Beyonce, who is a 32 year old entertainer and mother of one, is old enough and established enough to be doing this sort of thing on her own terms. She is an artist that is not just for teens and has a fan based as big and as varied as her incredible mane of hair.

With many sides to Beyonce’s appeal, ‘Partition’ feels very much aimed at her older fans and whilst no-one can ensure it doesn’t fill the newsfeeds of teenager and children worldwide, it isn’t meant for a young audience. Explicit is the disclaimer, and it is there for a reason.

Like bees drawn to honey, yes children will no doubt see it but that doesn’t mean that censorship should win or artistic concepts shouldn’t be expressed.

As a woman in her mid-twenties who is particularly drawn to Beyonce when under the influence of alcohol, it is refreshing to see a leading lady so in charge and open about her sexuality.

Yes it does get a bit murky when you think of how it may affect female body image further down the line and what gratification can be taken from the video but Beyonce isn’t telling anyone what to do, more what she wants to do. If she wants her husband to ejaculate on her in the back of a car and sing about it (‘He Monica Lewinski’d all on my gown’) – that is her prerogative and her feminism-on-her-own terms has clearly told her that is okay.

Plus teenagers have been having sex in the back of cars for years and I doubt it is Beyonce that has put that into their heads.

- Sarah Joy



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