[BEST OF 2013] Favorite Song: Beyonce - Flawless
I'm going to make a bold statement here, and declare a song I've only listened to a handful of times (ok... about five handfuls, to be fair) to be my favorite song of 2013. Why, and how, has a song so quickly become my favorite? Simple -- it does what all great pieces of art do, it moves me.
Flawless is the album version of a track (produced by Hit Boy) named "Bow Down / I Been On", and originally attracted criticism for use of the word "bitches", which many people felt was a counter-feminist stance.
The album version clarifies, and juxtaposes driving, aggressive (typically male traits) beats with lyrics that are positively inspiring, including an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie TEDxEuston talk entitled "We Should All Be Feminists".
It's real talk time here... so prepare to get a bit emo.
I am a woman working in a male-dominated industry, who has effectively spent her entire career working in male-dominated industries (telecommunications and tech, previous to music). I grew up playing drums -- an instrument males typically play. I played soccer on a co-ed team with only four other females out of about 20 team-members total. I DJ'd -- one of exactly 5 other female DJ's I knew personally or of at the time.
I have always been a in the minority with my passions, interests, hobbies, and work, when looking at gender alone.
So when Bey sung "I took some time to live my life, but don't think I'm just his little wife", it hit home for me -- despite being single and childless, I got the meaning.
The meaning is that Beyonce (and women everywhere, really) are more than just one thing. Humans are dynamic creatures, capable of being more than one label at a time. Beyonce, just like any mother with a career, is capable of being a wife, mother, artist, businessperson, sister, and more - all at once... however in today's environment of reality TV, the always-on news cycle, and insane fragmentation of media, we've developed a habit of assigning one trait to a person and sticking with it - for better or for worse.
Mylie twerks, therefore she must be only focused on sex and potentially even a slut. Beyonce took some time off after having her daughter, so now she's just "Jay-Z's wife".
It's almost like our collective conscious has the short-term memory of a fruit fly.
Yes, the track itself is fantastic -- the video is engaging and fun to watch -- and the lyrics are insanely catchy. In fact, I've already been IM'ing with colleagues and used the phrase 'I woke up like this' as a joke - talk about a catchy lyric.
But the bigger point is that this track, this aggressive, booty-shaking, loud and attention-grabbing track says something bigger. It says that we should all be feminists. We should all believe in equality for both genders, and we should all wake up and realize that women, and human beings as a whole, are not only capable of fulfilling more than one label or stereotype at a time, but that we're doing them a dis-service by fitting them into a single box and talking about how they're "diluting their brand" or "going off the rails" when they don't fit into that assigned box.
"We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller We say to girls: "You can have ambition, but not too much You should aim to be successful, but not too successful Otherwise, you will threaten the man"
Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is most important Now, marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don't teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors Not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing But for the attention of men We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are
Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes" - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The full TEDxEuston talk is here, and well worth the 18:00 watch.
So from one woman to a world of readers -- yes, I woke up like this.