|Yes, this man has helped make me the woman I am today. No, that doesn't make me any less of a feminist.|
In addition to the literature classes that I normally teach at a fine arts high school in Birmingham, next school year I am starting an elective called Women and the Media. Think journalism meets women’s studies. And last week a friend of mine sent me a link to a story that I immediately added to the syllabus.
All Hail the Queen by Tamara Winfrey Harris is an article about pop icon Beyonce and explores why so many of my fellow feminists have qualms about welcoming Queen Bey into the fold. This is a discussion that’s been going on for years with some feminists claiming that Beyonce fails to truly empower women because they believe she relies too heavily on her sexuality for her success. But that’s a proverbial dead horse I don’t care to beat today. That’s not what this post is about.
The other thing that has had some feminists in an uproar was Beyonce’s decision to title her latest tour The Mrs. Carter Show, a nod to her husband Shawn Knowles-Carter (better known as hip hop mogul Jay-Z).
Harris quotes Jane Martinson of the Guardian who wrote in a February 2013 op-ed, “There is almost something subversive about waiting until the strongest moment of your career, which is where Beyoncé finds herself now, to do away with the infamous glossy mononym in favour of a second name your own husband doesn’t even use.”
Harris also points out that Beyonce, during an an interview with Oprah Winfrey before the premiere of her Life Is But a Dream documentary, said this of Jaz-Z: “I would not be the woman I am if I did not go home to that man.”
Dodai Stewart of Jezebel responded with this: “Wouldn’t you like to believe she’d be amazing whether or not she went home to a man? (She would be.) It’s a much better message when she talks about how powerful she is as a woman and what a woman can do—without mentioning Mr. Carter.”
But Harris, in her article, counters statements like these and writes, "Being a feminist in the public eye should not require remaining aloof about relationships, including those with men who have helped shape who you are."
I couldn't agree more. To me, feminism is for lovers.
Personally, I find Beyonce's relationship with her husband quite empowering. First of all, it's obviously a marriage in which equality is important considering their decision to combine their names to create "Knowles-Carter."
Secondly, being an ambitious, artistic woman and a devoted wife is hard work. The balancing act can sometimes be as tough as a tight rope walk. The more examples we have of women who can make their careers and their husbands a priority, the better.
A marriage is one of the most important and one of the most formative relationships a person can have. Why is it anti-feminist for a woman to say her husband has contributed to who she is as a person and as a professional? Like Bey and Jay, my husband and I have been together for 10 years (including the boyfriend years). That's nearly a third of my life. Of course, he's helped shape who I am! And I’m sure he’d say I’ve had an impact on who he is today too.
My husband makes me a better writer, a better teacher, and a better human being. Saying that doesn’t mean I suddenly don’t believe in the equality of the sexes, which is what feminism is truly about. In fact, our relationship is a great example of equality. We share household duties. We make important decisions together. And we fully support each other’s goals and respect each other's wishes. And having such a relationship makes our marriage stronger because we are true partners. What feminist wouldn't celebrate a marriage like that?
This post was also published on my new blog on The Southern Coterie, "the social network of the SOUTH." This online community is for Southerners and all those who love the South.