Why Beyoncé matters

By Caroline Miller ’15Staff Writer

Recently at the 5Cs the topic of feminism has been instigating a great deal of thought, action, and discussion. Like anyone else with internet access and a grasp of social media, I was engaged in the discourse surrounding all-women’s education and its real world implications. Internet access and social media also provided me with full coverage and commentary on the most recent Superbowl—and, more importantly, the halftime show. These two internet sensations got me doing a lot of thinking, and after having watched Beyoncé Knowles’ Superbowl 2013 Halftime Show online for the eighth time, some new feminist insight finally became very clear to me—and I find it interesting, and maybe not a coincidence, that these two events happened in the same period of time and sparked such passionate discussion on and off of the internet.

In my multiple viewings of the halftime show I eventually realized that Beyoncé Knowles is not only the most empowered, but also the most empowering female public figure in the contemporary world. Her confidence is contagious, her spirit is free, and her beauty is exceptional. She is perfect—and basically the ideal human. But where does that leave the rest of us? And why am I writing an article about Beyonce?

Well, it kind of all came to me a few days (and only three re-viewings of the halftime show) after Superbowl Sunday. Like I said, that week turned out to be one in which much discussion and good-hearted debate arose among the student body regarding female empowerment (or lack thereof—depending on who you’re talking to) due to a controversial column in the CMC Forum. Also during this week, Scripps Professor Matthew Delmont was featured in an article for NBC News about Beyonce, stating, “there is never a question that she is not in control of her image. She can be sexy but she is controlling that sexuality and not being victimized in any way.”

This statement made so many things clear to me. What she did in the halftime show was incredible. Football is a sport dominated by men—from the players, to the viewers, to the coaches and management. Given that context, it its hugely important that she was able to put on a 10 minute show which not only celebrated, but empowered women without ever demeaning them. From her all-female band to all-female backup dancers to Destiny’s Child’s reunion, Beyonce created something truly special. (And let’s not forget the strategic song selections of “Independent Women” and “Single Ladies”).

Scripps students live and learn at a women’s college, and continually defending that is irritating. But what’s new? Here we all are hiding away from the patriarchal world and avoiding men while we fuel our feminist discourse …. right?! Wrong.

The point of being a part of the Scripps community is to live and learn in an environment meant to empower us as women and inspire us to empower others. Wouldn’t it be incredible to be as confident and empowered as Beyoncé? No really—think about it. Is it not relevant in the context of the current on campus discussion, and even in the broader context of today’s world, that we think about what, and who, empowers us? And why it is important that we celebrate being (independent!) women?

Feminism ain’t what it used to be—we’re living in the 21st century and it’s time to re-conceptualize what it means to be empowered as a woman. These are topics and discussions that I hope will start to pop up more around campus, and hopefully in a more organic manner—rather than as a result of an internet sensation (whether it be an article in a forum or the Supberbowl halftime show).

Maybe I’m being silly, but I found all of this to be significant when I watched a mind-blowing performance comprised solely of women and led by Beyoncé. Maybe I’m over-idealizing Beyoncé just because there is no one else who matches her charisma as well as empowerment—but what it shows me is that for women, society still has room for a lot of growth and improvement … and I’d love to let Beyoncé shepherd us in that direction.