|Image by Lauren Harris of Afro Girl Talks|
Mrs. Bowser, what's Beyonce Week?
I had to answer that question about a dozen times last week because the completely ridiculous, yet completely awesome image you see above was posted in the center of the dry erase board in my classroom.
The students in my English classes were disappointed that it wasn't Beyonce Week for them, but for the students in my elective Women and the Media.
This class is something I describe as Journalism 101 meets Women's Studies. In the class I teach students the basics of journalism but we also spend a great deal of time discussing feminism and representations of women in the media.
And we talk about Beyonce because, well, the students in the class really, really love Queen Bey and their teacher happens to adore her just as much.
So last week was Beyonce Week.
We read and discussed articles from feminist publications that debated whether or not Beyonce should be a feminist icon. Is her sexy persona anti-feminist? Did she set back the women's movement by naming her tour The Mrs. Carter Show? These are some of the questions we tackled.
We also watched and discussed some of Bey's most popular videos and segments of her documentary Life Is But a Dream.
When I announced my plans to have a Beyonce Week my students were elated, of course. While their excitement delighted me I was a bit worried. I wanted this week to be more than just an excuse to watch pop music videos in class. I wanted my students to really get something out of these five days.
But I had no reason to worry.
Sure, there was some goofing off (like the day the image above came to be), but the week turned out to be incredibly moving and meaningful.
We had powerful discussions on black female sexuality, what it truly means to be a feminist, and how being feminist and feminine is not a contradiction. And best of all we had a great talk about sisterhood.
In the documentary Life Is But a Dream Beyonce says, "I love my husband, but there is nothing like having a conversation with a woman who understands you. I grow so much from those conversations. I need my sisters."
This statement really resonated with some of the girls in the class and even the sole brave boy who's enrolled in the elective. One student shared that she too feels this way about having conversations with other women and that these talks are so powerful and have such a great impact on her life that they feel spiritual.
I've had similar experiences so when my student made this statement I literally got chills and I could sense other girls in the room did too.
One student shared that thinking about sisterhood has urged her to be more open with her female friends and to work on building a closer relationship with her mom.
And so as Beyonce Week came to a close I realized that this week was about much more than a pop star and whether or not she should be considered a feminist icon. This week was about young women embracing sisterhood and realizing that if women work together one day girls might really run the world.