Beyonce: Power or Bondage?

February 7, 2013

Interesting article from Trillia Newbell over at The Gospel Coalition:

Bold, black, and beautiful, Beyoncé took center stage at halftime of Sunday night’s Super Bowl. Commanding the stage in a black leather swimsuit (?) and boots, she strutted as she sang several familiar pop tunes.

She certainly grabbed attention. But what was the message? Writing for the Progressive Christian channel of Patheos, David Henson argued, “If what you saw was an offensive, inappropriate hypersexual display of legs and barely covered unmentionables, let me suggest you saw only what you were staring at, not what actually happened on that stage.” So what really happened? He writes:

Beyoncé’s performance Sunday night in New Orleans wasn’t about sex. It was about power, and Beyoncé had it in spades. In fact, her show was one of the most compelling, embodied, and prophetic statements of female power I have seen on mainstream television.

I agree that she powerfully embodied strength and boldness as the world would see it. But I could no longer ignore the sexual suggestiveness of her performance when she licked her finger, drug it down her body, and wrapped her hands around her head. However you interpret such an act, we can’t deny that Beyoncé’s performance carried a message that sexuality and sensuality are powerful and attractive.

Women say they want men to stop objectifying them, yet I wonder. Are we helping our cause with hyper-sexual performances such as Beyoncé’s? I do not fault her alone. I believe she is a product of her environment, the pop music industry. Sex sells, and she’s a smart businesswoman. I don’t deny Henson’s general premise, either, because sexuality is also powerful. Beyoncé wields power in her decision to use only female performers and musicians and celebrates it in her song “Run the World (Girls).”  Even so, I can’t help but ask: How are we supporting women by celebrating when they flaunt their sexuality in public?

Read the rest.