Beyoncé's in her underwear on the Time cover, but that doesn't devalue her feminist message

Anyone who belittles her just because she is in a skimpy outfit is doing more damage to feminism than the woman they seek to disparage

 

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Sitting on a coach back to London after a particularly brutal break up, I scrolled through my iPod, deciding what music best suited my mood. Coldplay? Too miserable. Paolo Nutini? Too infuriatingly happy. After much deliberation and a fair bit of sobbing, I plumped for Destiny Child’s “Survivor” on repeat, before stepping off the bus at Victoria a new woman, invigorated by lyrics telling me I would survive.

To me, Beyoncé symbolises a new brand of feminism; modern, glamorous and with lashings of lip gloss. Hers is a different type of smoking hot bra. She tells us it’s okay for a woman to be both sexual and a positive role model, striding about the stage in sky high heels and a thong as she bellows her message to thousands of teenage girls. Who runs the world? They do!

However, the singer, who was recently named one of Time’s 100 most influential people, came under fire this week after appearing on the magazine’s May front cover in (hold the front page!) her underwear.

Twitter, like a hysterical toddler, whipped itself into a frenzy after the photo was posted online, with every earnest feminist under the sun pointing and crying “sexism!” at the (let’s be honest, not particularly raunchy) front cover.

I understand the argument of course; it’s so familiar I could repeat it in my sleep. A picture of a woman with her kit off is yet another sign the patriarchy is winning. Beyoncé, poor repressed Beyoncé, is merely pandering to the desires of men the world over. She’s not a feminist. She’s a victim.

By pairing important messages with catchy tunes and a little bit of fluff, however, the singer actually ensures otherwise disinterested girls develop an awareness of women’s rights. Beyoncé’s penchant for hot pants doesn’t alter the fact that her gospel reaches an audience Germaine Greer could only dream of.

Her Chime for Change concert last year, which was billed as a feminist Live Aid, brought issues such as domestic violence and female genital mutilation to the attention of over 50,000 young women who might have ignored the problems facing their sisters around the world if they hadn’t been served with side-helping of pop music.

Maybe we’ve lost sight of what the Time list commemorates. If anything, Beyoncé’s scandalous pose has highlighted her influence. Media coverage of her alleged hypocrisy succeeds only in drawing more attention to her cause; inspiring more women to stick to their guns even when challenged.

Anyone who belittles Bey’s message just because she stands on her soap-box in a skimpy outfit is doing more damage to feminism than the woman they seek to disparage. You might not like Beyoncé’s method, but if a young girl listens to just one of her songs and thinks “yes, I can run the world” then Beyoncé will have earned her place on Time’s front cover, with or without her clothes.

Read more:
The world’s most influential people are revealed
Beyonce in GQ: All the ladies! Put your hands up for feminism

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