To the left, to the left. . .

Ever since I got cable (bad choice when you have as much to do as I) but I have been watching a ton of Vh1 Soul, soooo good. And I love this song. All I can say, “I can have another you in a minute, so don’t ever get to thinking your irreplacable. . . ”

For some reason several of my girlfriends have been sending me this song/video. I guess it is important to remember the strength we have on our own, despite the nefarious implications of hetero-romance and what not. It is corny, it is mainstream, it is entrenched in disgusting capitalist patriarchy, but I can’t help but get a little happy that young girls (and my girls) are singing this song.

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  • manda

    I agree that this song definately has its positive aspects, but the “If I paid for it, it’s mine” sentiment reminds me of my parents’ divorce. Because my father technically paid for everything (my mom stayed at home with me), he decided everything was his when she finally got the nerve to leave his sorry ass. And the judge agreed.

  • Katie Kish

    I was sitting at work talking to one of my volunteers – we had both broken up with/had a gigantic fight with our “significate other” over the christmas break – and she said to me “Have you listened to Beyonce’s song Irreplacable?” We had a screaming, teary, hugging bonding moment over how good this song is and how our respective ex’s can go and shove it.

  • donna darko

    i just realized what the song’s about (duh).

  • Angie

    Actually, I think songs like this AREN’T corny…I mean, Beyonce might not be, say, Ani DiFranco, but, well, not everyone can be. I think part of the problem of young women who are unable/unwilling to embrace calling themselves “feminists” stems from the idea that feminists are the stereotypical “don’t-shave-my-legs-I-hate-men” type. And when there are songs and images like this in the pop culture lexicon, it helps at least open the discussion on what feminism is and who feminists are. It gives more confirmed feminists (like us) a chance to say something like, “Well, OK, you’re not a feminist, but what about Irreplacable?” I know, that seems trite, but I think it can be an actual opening to talk about what constitutes feminist thinking and attitudes, it challenges ideas about what feminism is and can be. One of my earliest memories of knowing I was a feminist was seeing a Ms. magazine cover that said, “No, All Feminists Don’t Think Alike.” And I think that’s a really important message to get across.
    Also? I *love* Destiny’s Child’s Independent Women. Sure, it’s from the soundtrack of Charlie’s Angels, but it is a rocking feminist anthem, I swear.
    If you’re gonna brag make sure it’s your money you flaunt
    Depend on no one else to give you what you want

    (Wow, did I overthink this comment or what??)

  • Perin

    I actually like this song, despite the somewhat tasteless materialism. In fact, I might like it because of the tasteless materialism: it’s a clear response to the “gold-digger” trope in male hiphop culture, which depicts women as lazy, superficial and opportunistic leeches who attach themselves to rich men and have babies to financially tie them down. (Kanye West, I’m looking at you.)
    Whether we like it or not (and I personally don’t) we live in a capitalist society, and financial independence is pretty much the first step towards any meaningful liberation. Beyonce’s song is practical advice (“try to be self-supporting so you can kick that two-timing jerk out of your life”) and pop-feminist mockery of the gold-digger stereotype rolled into one catchy hit. That sounds good enough for my ipod.

  • Tara K.

    I agree with Angie. Women like Beyonce need to be embraced, not criticized, and valued for the powerful representation they can possess: they work as a small sort of liason between feminism and the mainstream. And it’s not just about how intimidating or stigmatized feminism is, but also about how unavailable it is to so many areas of the country and so many different people who may be low-income or just socially remote. Having grown up in Eastern Kentucky, I can testify that strong women looking for similar models are searching in empty fields. There were no bookstores selling Bitch or Ms. magazines; there wasn’t even a Wal-Mart for many years. The one thing I did have growing up was cable and if pop culture like this video can reach people who aren’t reaching much else – hoorah! I, of course, feel that everyone needs a healthy dose of Feminism but it’s not the college educated that need it most. The girls I went to high school with who had children before graduation (and that wasn’t exceptional) and were usually forced to marry the father who often later cheated on or abused them – they need these things. As much as we value our feminist journals and our scholarly writing and our Women’s Studies departments, they’re not available to many of the women who need them most. The women back home that I know might see this – and this might be the first thing like it they’ve seen in a long time.

  • katie

    god I cant stand beyonce. arent there about 1 million other singers song writers who are women and who arent so useless?

  • Panic

    Not to mention the all-girl band at the end there. The video director actually put some thought into things. ;)

  • kittentheverb

    actually, you can credit the all-girl band to beyonce, not the director. she apparently insists on touring with an all-female band, because she thinks female musicians are underrepresented and under-hired in the music industry.
    that was enough to make me sort of a fan.

  • iscah

    I don’t know. Beyonce’s all girl band is great, and I like that girls have powerful female role models who are independent of men. But take these lyrics and imagine them sung by a man – it would rub me the wrong way!
    It implies that all men (or women) are the same, and can be discarded for a new one at any moment. Not only that, but she’s already replaced him. There’s not a lot of respect in the song, for anyone. Doesn’t make me like any of the people in it!

  • Messy Jessi

    I’m sort of with iscah on this one. I can’t get my head around the supposedly empowering message because I’m hung up on, “She could get another money-grubbing, philandering lazy-ass in a minute? Why would she want another one of him?”

  • Panic

    That’s really cool, I didn’t know that!
    Messy and Iscah,
    Maybe it’s just the English major in me reading too much into it, but maybe she’s saying that money-grubbing people are a dime-a-dozen (pun intended) and that the real, solid people are harder to find. It’s not that she wants another one of him, so much as that his type is pretty common. Just a thought, I only listened to the song the one time.

  • JoanKelly

    Couple of things…
    Kanye West actually addresses materialism, race, and sexism in nuanced ways in his song Gold Digger, as well as in other songs on his albums. At the end of Gold Digger, for instance, he references the phenomenon of black women who AREN’T “gold diggers” being devauled and dumped for white women, by non-rich men who become more materially successful. Which is sort of a fuck-you-for-blaming-black-women-when-people-are-doing-THIS-shit message. In other songs he talks about the pressures on women and men both re: consumerism and self worth.
    Now, whatever Beyonce meant to get across in Irreplacable, what *I* heard the very first time I listened to it was more sorrow than anything. I took it as more of a trying-to-save-face-during-the-intense-pain-of-betrayal song, rather than some kind of feminist anthem. The music and melody sound really sad to me, no matter how “brave” the lyrics might be. Which is not to say that expressions of sadness and saving face when someone betrays you is un-feminist at all. I just felt like the song was more layered than get-out-you-jackass.
    And, there is a version of this song that plays on a hip hop station here in L.A. where a man raps for a while in the middle portion of the song. I can’t remember exact words to quote it directly, but the gist of it is ambiguousness-in-conflict. For instance, he mentions that she thinks he’s cheating because he hasn’t had sex with her in a week, and he says he wasn’t touching her because he thought she was angry at him, and on her period. It’s not said in a way of “I thought you were on the rag, bitch,” – the male “character” doing the rapping sounds confused and bummed. I don’t know that they could have made this version without Beyonce’s knowledge and approval so that implies to me that she might intend for there to be layered meanings to the song as well.
    I do think that the lyrics can be taken as empowering as well, I just feel like the song is not a simple feminist anthem by any stretch.

  • carlagirl

    FYI, this song was written by a man, Ne-Yo (,
    despite what Beyoncé has said in some interviews.
    This and “Independent Women” would be so much more powerful if they didn’t have to bookend drivel like “Cater To You.”

  • Bearcat

    Just wondering, does anybody here know of/like The Indigo Girls? Their newest album is radical (in the political sense) and awesome. Much better than Beyonce.

  • donna darko

    I like both. The Indigo Girls are back together? Amy Ray was the first rock concert I ever went to. It was at Ladyfest. Le Tigre and The Butchies played too. They’re very political mostly into indigenous rights and the environment.

  • Feminist, MD

    I also love this song – despite it being cheesy pop music I think it sends a strong message to younger girls who listen to Beyonce that they don’t need men to take care of them. Another reason I have always liked Beyonce is for the positive body self-image she has & how she portrays this to youger women. She is not super-skinny and always says she is proud of her body and her curves, etc.

  • strbellysneetch

    “arent there about 1 million other singers song writers who are women and who arent so useless?”
    I’m of the thinking that calling another woman useless is not necessarily pro-feminist. Maybe it’s just me.