By Lisa Gray
At last nights MTV Video Music Awards, as Beyoncé performed an epic medley, the word “FEMINIST” blazed on the giant screen behind her.
And as in the music video for “Flawless,” Queen B sampled “We should all be feminist,” a speech by writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Laments Adichie, “Girls cannot be sexual beings the way boys are.”
Reactions? Some grumbling; lots of ecstasy.
On Twitter, a minority argued that Beyoncé isn’t a really a feminist.
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Tweeted Mark Legget (@markleggett): “You know that Beyoncé genuinely is a feminist, because that’s what her carefully orchestrated marketing campaign tells you.”
In the Independent, Milo Yiannopoulos argued that ‘Mrs. Carter’ is perhaps the last person feminists should find inspiring:
“Pyrotechnics, sexual titillation for men and ego boosts for the sisterhood are perhaps the least effective route to female empowerment imaginable. In Beyoncé, it is the male idea of female beauty that finds its highest and most perfect expression. She is what men demand of her, less than the sum of her body parts.”
But generally, the reviews are good. And feminists — decades ago, known for their movement’s divisiveness — seemed more than ready to embrace the very sexual, very maternal Bey as one of their own.
“Man did it feel good,” exults Amanda Marcotte in Slate’s “The XX Factor.” She notes that “Rush Limbaugh’s claim that feminism exists ‘to allow ugly women access to society’ is going to be a harder sell now.”
Jessica Valenti, writing in the Guardian, saw the moment as a sign that feminism’s star is ascendant, that celebrities are willing to lend their name to the movement: “Feminism is no longer “the f-word”, it’s the realm of cool kids: Beyoncé, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Kerry Washington and Joseph Gordon-Levitt all call themselves feminists. And just this week, after years of equivocating, Taylor Swift came out as a feminist.”
As for the haters? Tweeted Charlotte Shane (@CharlotteNB) this morning, “Of all the things I don’t need, men weighing in on why Beyonce isn’t feminist is probably #1.”