Beyonce’s “Run the World” (Not So Much)

While the Feministing crew has been discussing exactly how to approach the new Beyonce track and music video on Feministing (livechat? blog series? feminist interpretive dance video?), we came across this awesome woman and are a wee obsessed — and not just because she gives us a shout out at the end. Check it.

h/t to Jay Smooth for finding this gem of a vlogger.

If anyone could find a transcript, it’d be awesome!

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18 Comments

  1. Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    FANTASTIC. I have nothing else to say about this intelligent rant. Love it.

  2. Posted May 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    This is a fantastic video! I love it.

  3. Posted May 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    i love you so much.

  4. Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Thank you! That Beyonce video should come with a trigger warning.

  5. Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful!
    I googled the lyrics to the Beyonce song – despite the pithy sentiment that girls run the world (which anyone who reads the news for about 5 minutes a day would see is not true) it seems to be less about the state of womanhood in general and more about self-aggrandizement.

    My trouble with the mid to late 90′s “Girl Power” version of feminism was that I’d see people adopt one or two ideas about feminism as the entire thing, often to do with appearance or attire, and declare themselves “Empowered” without bother to learn about the way feminism plays into things on a global or economic level, or how it affects legislation made (or made against it.) etc. Like the woman I knew who felt she was “empowered” because she dressed tomboyishly and liked hardcore, but did or thought about little else. Or the one who claimed feminism because she dressed more provocatively and approached men aggressively (not assertively–aggressively. In a way which made one question her understanding of respect or boundaries). Or the women I knew who claimed to champion “Size Acceptance” but ran a running often sneering commentary on women (who were out of earshot) that they felt were “too skinny”,”had no butt” and so on. All of them did have some superficial ideas about feminism, but didn’t seem to be seeing the big picture, and how all-encompassing it is, how many angles it can be approached from, and needs to be approached from!

    Lastly, on the word “feministing” – yeah, I guess it does sound like “fisting” (and that’s cool if that’s your thing), but I always interpreted it as making it a verb – like being a feminist shouldn’t just be something you say or talk about, it should be something you go out and DO, or that affects your approach to doing things in your life, and I like that about it. :)

    • Posted May 24, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Hmm. On the “Girl Power” thing–I recognise now that it’s not actually feminism, but when the Spice Girls were big, I was eleven. And at that age I think their music, and the idea of “Girl Power” was a good introduction to understanding why feminism was needed. Although I can look back now and go “wow, lots of infantilisation and short skirts and all-types-of-cis fail there”, the message of embracing who you are and not letting guys dictate what you should do really empowered me at that age.

      For me at least, Girl Power was a gateway drug to feminism–I got excited that women were totally going to be in power now, realised that wasn’t the case, and then set about learning more to try to do something about it. Whereas if I’d grown up with the Girls Aloud rubbish (say what you want about the Spice Girls being manufactured, but that’s NOTHING to the airbrushed, manicured girl groups you get nowadays–the Spice Girls looked healthy, and it makes me sad to see how much thinner some of them are now than they ever were when really famous) I don’t think I would even have noticed that there was anything wrong.

      So yeah, it’s not an idea without issues, but if Girl Power is aimed at actual girls, as opposed to women who can cope with non-reductive ideas of feminism, it’s not a wholly bad thing. There’s a demographic that needs a voice telling them not to listen to societal pressure and that they’re allowed to be different. I really don’t think Beyonce is doing that here, though–Lady Gaga comes a bit closer.

      • Posted May 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        You may already know this, and if so, sorry for the reminder. (ED Trigger warning.) I wanted to respond your comment about the Spice Girls looking “healthy” –Melanie Chisholm (a.k.a. Sporty Spice) has been open about the fact that she struggled with an eating disorder during the Spice Girls’ heyday (and afterward). Obviously Sporty Spice in particular was supposed to be the “healthy” role model of the Girls, and I’m sure the pressure was on her to stay tiny, since being tiny connotes “health” in our society. The Spice Girls may look “healthy” to us now compared to the even skinnier pop stars of today, but that doesn’t mean they actually were. We can’t know the answer to that. You can’t necessarily tell if someone is “healthy” just by looking at them.

  6. Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    This pretty much made my day. I want more!

  7. Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I whipped up a transcript for this. Yay for having time on your hands, not to mention it’s a fantastic vlog.

    ***

    (Some words originally censored in the video have been uncensored for the transcript. Consider this a warning.)

    Hey, Beyonce! Guess what? You’re a liar, and I’m calling you out.

    Beyonce is selling you a bill of goods, and I’m here to tell you not to buy it. Her new song is called “Girls Who Run the World”. I don’t think it’s right that she’s out there promulgating (sp?) historical inaccuracies to impressionable young women, imparting the false belief that they “run the world”, thereby lulling them into a false sense of achievement and distracting them from doing the work it takes to actually run the world. Which, by the way, I don’t think female domination is actually the goal. I think the endgame should be a socially egalitarian society.

    [Do] Girls really run the world? First of all, women are universally dominated. There is not a society known where women, as a group, have decision-making power over men as a group. “Who’ll run the world? Girls!” A better question would be, “Name the only American minority group that actually constitutes a majority of the population. Girls!” 50.7 percent of the US population is female, but sociologists consider women a minority group because of their position relative to men, the dominant group.

    There are things called “women’s issues” which, apparently, are a “special interest”. A problem that affects half the population of your country is not a “special interest”, okay? It’s a big interest; it’s a regular interest.

    So, Beyonce, you really want to try to convince me that girls run the world? Is that why 90 percent of rape victims are female? And, similarly, 95 percent of domestic abuse victims are female. According to that statistic, we’re not even running our domiciles, let alone the globe. You’d agree that something should be done about that, right? So let me tell you: In South Carolina, in 2005, cock-fighting became a felony. That same year, there was a bill to make domestic violence a felony; it didn’t pass. So, apparently, if you let two chickens peck at each other for your entertainment, you’re a felon. But if you punch your wife in the teeth, not so much.

    If women have such power and influence, then why are female fetuses in China and India selectively aborted? And before ultrasound was widely available for sex detection, you just had to have the baby, and then if it was a girl, you’d just kill it. So… girl power! I wish I were making this up.

    Let’s examine some of the lyrics.

    “Make your check, come at they neck.”

    Indeed. Go to work, and make your check, but be aware that your check is going to be significantly smaller than your male counterparts’, because at all ages, at all education levels, American women are paid only 78 percent of what a man is paid for doing the same work. And that is a huge improvement from 1980 when it was only 60 percent.

    “Some of them men think they freak this like we do, but no they don’t.”

    I actually agree with you there, Beyonce. Men certainly do not “freak this” the way our culture demands that women do. Men aren’t objectified the same way or to the same magnitude that women are, if at all. Female sexuality is for sale; it’s profitable. And another thing, anecdotally, every issue of Cosmopolitan magazine is about “freakin’ it”. Women are sent messages like, “First take off his pants”, but don’t sleep with him ’cause if you do, then you’re skanky. What am I to do? The message that the media sends women is like, “Be really really sexy, but not too sexy!” It’s a phenomenon known as the Virgin-Whore Dichotomy; go briefly read about it if you want to. Link in my pants.

    So, indeed, Beyonce, women have a very unique and contradictory course to navigate when it comes to “freaking it” in this country.

    “Disrespect us? No, they won’t!”

    Yes, they will, and they do, often.

    I’d like to defer to a very famous doctor on this subject — Dr. Dre. He says, and I quote, “Bitches ain’t shit but hos and tricks.” There you have it. Listen, Mrs. Carter, you should know this firsthand: When your husband isn’t busy with his money, cash, or ho(s), you’ve still got 99 problems, and a bitch ain’t one. Of the most popular rap songs in recent memory, I am hard-pressed to think of one that doesn’t have any reference to women as some derogatory name. Not to mention, like, workplace sexual harassment or cat-calling, and all other manner of disrespectful things.

    “I think I need a barber. None of these [censored]* can fade me.”

    Don’t call me a bitch; it doesn’t make me feel empowered.

    We have this thing in our society whereby it’s somehow okay to do and say sexist things because, somehow, they’re not sexist anymore since women have so much power, and I think the media is partially to blame for this.

    Yes, it’s nice to see female doctors and lawyers on TV, and Geena Davis even played a female president in that one show that got cancelled. And yes, lady humans can vote and work outside the home, and all sorts of other things that weren’t part of the status quo in past eras. But a simple survey of reality will reveal that we don’t run anything, and pretending we do will get us nowhere. I think, not only is it not helpful; it’s actually harmful. Like, these messages of “girl power” in art and music, in movies and all other sorts of media are useless unless there’s actual work being done behind them. A shift in values, policy changes, and changes in perception; there just needs to be a huge shift, and that’s gonna take some time. These sporadic campaigns of “girl power” aren’t really gettin’ the job done. Remember the late ’90s era of “girl power” circa Spice Girls? A group of ladies who told us we could be sporty, or we could be scary. We could be posh, or we could dye our hair red like Ginger. Or, we could be babies. Awesome, ’cause that’s just what women need more of: infantilization.

    Women have made great strides towards equality, but we’re not there yet, so it’s a little premature to be making victory anthems.

    If you’re at all interested by anything I said in this video, or realize that some of the stuff that I talked about isn’t really fair, then you should look into it for yourself, and if you want to do it the old-fashioned way, I highly recommend this book. It’s called ‘Full Frontal Feminism’ by Jessica Valenti — an excellent, excellent book. Or you could just go to her website, which is called feministing.com, which is dangerously close to the word “fisting” which makes me feel, frankly, uncomfortable to say it.

    And that concludes this video. Bye, everyone.

    * She reads it as “bitches” (for those who can read lips); a search for the lyrics online puts the “n” word in that excerpt.

  8. Posted May 23, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    i also found it confusing that beyonce uses the word “motha” as in short for motherfucker which is an intrinsically sexist word. AND her use of the word “girl” infantilizes women.

  9. Posted May 24, 2011 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    Transcript: as requested.

    Hey Beyonce, guess what? You’re a liar, and I’m calling you out.

    Beyonce is selling you a bill of goods, and I’m here to tell you not to buy it. Her new song is called “Girls who run the world,” and I don’t think it’s right that she’s out there promulgating historical inaccuracies to impressionable young women – imparting the false belief that they “run the world” thereby lulling them into a false sense of achievement and distracting them form the work it takes to actually run the world. Which, by the way, I don’t think female world domination is the goal, I think the end game should be a socially egalitarian society.

    Girls really run the world? First of all women are universially dominated. There is not a society known where women as a group have decision making power over men as a group. “Who will run the world? Girls!” A better question would be, “Name the only American minority group that actually constitutes a majority of the population? Girls!” 50.7% of the U.S. population is female – but sociologists consider women a minority group because of their position relative to men, the dominant group. There are things called “women’s issues” which apparently are special interests. A problem that affects half of the population of your country is not a “special interest” k? It’s a big interest. It’s a regular interest.

    So, Beyonce – you really wanna try to convince me that girls run the world? Is that why 90% of rape victims are female? And similarly, 95% of domestic abuse victims are female. According to that statistic, we’re not even running our domiciles, let alone the globe. You’d agree that something should be done about that right? So let me tell you – in South Carolina in 2005, cock fighting became a felony. That same year there was a bill to make domestic violence a felony – didn’t pass. So apparently if you let two chickens peck at each other for your entertainment, you’re a felon. But if you punch your wife in the teeth – not so much.

    If women have so much power and influence then why are female fetuses in China and India selectively aborted? And before ultrasound was widely available for sex detection, you just had to have the baby and then if it was a girl you’d just kill it. So…girl power! I wish I were making this up.

    Lets examine some of the lyrics: “Make your check, come at they neck.” Indeed – go to work and make your check, but be aware that your check is gonna be significantly smaller than your male counterpart’s because at all ages and all education levels, American women are paid only 78% of what a man is paid for doing the same work and that is a huge improvement from 1980 when it was only 60%.

    “Some of them men think they freak this like we do, but no they don’t.” I actually agree with you there Beyonce. Men certainly do not “freak this” the way our culture demands that women do. Men aren’t objectified in the same way or to the same magnitude that women are, if at all. Female sexuality is for sale – it’s profitable. And another thing – anecdotally – every issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine is about “freaking it.” Women are sent messages like “First, take off his pants.” But don’t sleep with him, cause if you do – then you’re skanky. What am I to do? The message that the media sends women is like, “Be really really sexy, but not too sexy.” It’s a phenomenon known as a “virgin-whore dichotomy” go briefly read about it if you want to (link?) in my pants. So indeed, Beyonce, women have a unique and contradictory course to navigate when it comes to “freaking it” in this country.

    “Disrespect us? No, they won’t!” Yes, they will – and they do, often. I’d like to defer to a very famous doctor on this subject, Dr. Dre. He says, and I quote, “B—s ain’t s—t but h—s and tricks.” There you have it. Listen Mrs. Carter, you should know this first hand – when your husband isn’t busy with his money, cash, or h—s, he’s still got “99 problems and a b—h ain’t one.” OF the most popular rap songs in recent memory, I am hard pressed to think of one that doesn’t have any reference to women as some derogatory name. Not to mention like – workplace sexual harassment, cat-calling, or all manner of disrespectful things.

    “I think I need a barber. None of these b—s can fade me.” Don’t call me a b—h – it doesn’t make me feel empowered. We have this thing in our society where somehow it’s ok to do and say sexist things because somehow they’re not sexist anymore, because women have so much power. And I think the media is partially to blame for this. Yes it’s nice to see female doctors and lawyers on TV and Gena Davis even played a female president in that one show that got cancelled. And yes, lady humans can vote and work outside the home and all sorts of other things that weren’t part of the status quo in other eras. But a simple survey of reality will reveal that we don’t run anything. And pretending we do will get us nowhere.

    I think not only is it not helpful – it’s actually harmful. Like these messages of “girl power” in art and music and movies and all other sorts of media are useless unless there’s actual work being done behind them. A shift in values, policy changes, and changes in perception – there just needs to be a huge shift. And that’s going to take some time. These sporadic campaigns of girl power aren’t really getting the job done. Remember the late ‘90s era of “girl power” circa Spice Girls? A group ladies that told us we could be sporty, or we could be scary. We could be posh, or we could dye our hair red like Ginger…or we could be babies. Awesome…cause that’s just what women need more of – infantilization.

    Women have made great strides towards equality, but we’re not there yet so it’s a little premature to be making victory anthems. If you’re at all interested by anything I said in this video, or realize that some of the stuff I talked about isn’t really fair – then you should look into it, and if you want to do it the old fashioned way, I highly recommend this book. It’s called Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti, an excellent, excellent book. Or you could just go to her website which is called feministing.com, which is dangerously close to the word fisting and makes me feel, frankly, uncomfortable to say it.

    And that concludes this video! Bye everyone.

    {Fifty point [ding! Avast virus database has been updated.] Thank you for that, ok? Thank you}

  10. Posted May 24, 2011 at 4:05 am | Permalink

    Please, please, a transcript!!

  11. Posted May 24, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Who is this woman? I would LOVE to see more of her stuff.

    Intelligence with a sense of humour, wonderful.

  12. Posted May 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Hell, I’d rather see my nieces jamming out to this & feeling confident & powerful instead of listening to Katy Perry/women-are-born-solely-to-sexually-satisfy-men & feeling the pressures of everything that spouts.

    Maybe it’s “superficial.” But it’s top 40 pop music. When Destiny’s Child released “Independent Women” when I was 12, it was such a wake-up call. My friends & I were obsessed, because there hadn’t been anything quite like it on the top 40 station for girls our age. It spoke to the feminist I was growing into, though I didn’t have a name for it yet. & those little glimmers of empowerment in pop culture for an adolescent–Beyonce, Gwen Stefani, Buffy–no they’re not perfect, but they help a lot of girls realize that it’s ok to be more than what society tells them they should be. I think it’s better to have idealistic girl power that will empower instead of a pop culture landscape that is entirely driven by treating women as man’s sex toy.

    The music video sure was a trainwreck though, huh?

    • Posted May 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      THIS. I felt exactly the same about the Spice Girls, and it freaks me out how few similarly “proto-feminist” (as in, appealing to girls who aren’t old enough to get in-depth feminist theory) musicians there are at the moment.

      But yeah, that Beyonce video… So much wrong with it. The video seems to totally contradict the song, with all the writhing and performing for men :^/

  13. Posted May 24, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Awesome rant!

  14. Posted May 28, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing–it’s awesome. I can’t figure out why you aren’t also sharing this rad vlogger’s name and a link to her vlog or blog. I am glad that Jay Smooth hipped you to her–he’s uncategorically awesome and it’s great that you share a link to Ill Doctrine. Can the same be done for the woman and her vlog? I realize that one can click through a few times to her YouTube page, but it is customary to share a source’s link in a blog post, no? If I am missing something, I apologize.

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