Beyonce enters the women’s studies classroom

Women’s studies has for many decades centered itself around the study of popular culture and this trend continues as it was announced last week that there will be a class called “Politicizing Beyonce” offered by the Women’s Studies Departement at Rutgers.

Most people groan in dismay when I rigorously analyze pop culture through a gender studies lens (especially at dinner parties, my apparent super power)–but I think that shit is hot. I have two degrees in women’s studies and for both my MA and BA work, I was deeply fascinated by what popular culture tells us about the representation of women, race, class and sexuality. And the conclusions from feminists weren’t as negative, critical and narrow-minded as one might assume.

It was the women’s studies academics of the 80’s that tagged Madonna with the language of empowerment (even if that empowerment was within a system of power–as any materialist feminist would tell you) and it was gender studies that helped place women from Aretha to Gaga within the lexicon of feminism, finding moments of feminist resistance in their work.

As a strong proponent of women’s studies education, I think it is a no brainer to have a class about Beyonce. She is both an amazing icon of strength and independence and leaves us plenty to critique with regard to normative visual representations of women’s bodies. I have been critical of casting Beyonce as a feminist in the past. But I have wondered this many times–is Beyonce the Madonna of this generation? And if that is so, does Beyonce show us that we have made progress in women’s studies curriculum and thereby feminism to more effectively recognize the complexity of women of colors lives?

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Dear Betsy DeVos: Fighting for Survivors of Sexual Violence Is a Racial Justice Fight

For the past few months, I’ve seen several articles — almost exclusively written by white women — arguing that we shouldn’t enforce Title IX protections for survivors of sexual assault because the authors believe Black men are more likely to be accused. The narrative has been picked up by numerous media outlets and used by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to strip protections for survivors.

The idea that survivors’ rights are a threat to Black men leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Let me be clear: that’s not because I’m not worried about race discrimination in school discipline. We have no data to support the argument that Black men are more likely to be accused of or ...

For the past few months, I’ve seen several articles — almost exclusively written by white women — arguing that we shouldn’t enforce Title IX protections for survivors of sexual assault because the authors ...