As of late, superstar Beyonce is leveraging her celebrity status into social justice. Her cause of choice is gender equality, as noted in her recent surprise album Beyoncé, and this vague piece published as part of the Shriver Report (2014) collection.
Titled “Gender Equality is a Myth,” the 213-word “essay” amplifies the importance of gender equality in the modern state; notions that most feminists and spectators are already familiar with. She repeats the common 77 cents to the dollar statistic, and fatigued calls for men’s inclusion in feminist thought and execution.
“Humanity requires both men and women, and we are equally important and need one another.”
The essay does not delve into the trials of women in third world countries, the need for basic reproductive rights, nor the public health concerns for victimized women. The essay does not bring to light new expressions about sexual harassment or domestic violence and the ways society must curb their prevalence.
Her words offer no policy recommendations, no personal narratives, nor any tangible rallying cries for business leaders, politicians, or community activists. She did not expound on the difference between “equality” and “equity” and why both are necessary for female inclusion.
She did not quote important current events in the global gender struggle, such as recent progress in Israel to expand access to abortion for young women, or in Saudi Arabia, where a first all-female law firm opened to protect women’s rights in the notoriously patriarchal and discriminatory country.
There was no reference to the Supreme Courts’ imminent ruling about Obamacare, access to birth control, and religion, and the awkward situation it’s putting Justice Sonia Sotomayor in. Justice Sotomayor, of course, was nominated by President Obama as the first Latina to ever sit on the highest court of the land. Such a scenario is rife with feminist perspective.
Despite the egregious shortcomings, I do applaud Beyoncé for finally taking a stand against something. One of my sharpest criticisms of her (and most other celebrities) are their unwillingness or inability to comprehensively utilize their status to correct social ills. Lately, both herself and her husband, Jay Z, have been more politically vocal. They attended a vigil for Trayvon Martin, and were active during President Obama’s campaign.
But is this really enough? Is an “essay” which mirrors a Facebook status enough to completely reverse centuries of oppression? Of course not, but it’s a step in the right direction. I guess.
Beyonce’s work in gender equality is far from over. And I certainly expect to see more from her in the coming days (weeks, months, years, lifetime…) on the issue. But for now, I can’t get overly excited by a lackluster attempt to register shallow views with the philosophical depth found in most third graders.