Much has been said about Beyonce referring to herself as “King”. Most of the conversation around her decision to do so has fallen into two camps: Beyonce is reaffirming patriarchy by referring to herself as a “King” or Beyonce should be allowed to call herself whatever she wants. I recognize that both camps make a legitimate argument, but I would like to merge them. I don’t think that it is an either/or matter as some others do.
This isn’t Beyonce’s first time at the gender-bending and gender non-conformist rodeo. In my opinion, Beyonce has always been drawn to masculine expression. In the videos for her songs “Lose My Breath” and “Upgrade U’, Beyonce dawns men’s clothing and mixes feminine expression with masculine expression. She can be seen dipping into a swagger that we traditionally associate with maleness and masculinity.
On her 2008 album, “I Am Sasha Fierce”, one of the first singles off that album is titled “If I Were A Boy”. In this song Beyonce lyrically imagines what it would be like to be a male. Even though the song sticks to mostly to patriarchal notions of manhood. However, it once more represents Beyonce’s seeming fascination with masculine identity.
Historically speaking, Beyonce isn’t the first woman to refer to herself as “King”. Pharaoh Hatshepsut, an ancient Egyptian woman, ruled as a man. A National Geographic article explains,
“Early reliefs show her performing kingly functions such as making offerings to the gods and ordering up obelisks from red granite quarries at Aswan. After just a few years she had assumed the role of “king” of Egypt, supreme power in the land. “
It is absolutely true that historically women have often had to situate themselves into masculinity and maleness in order to be taken serious. Given that patriarchy is the prevailing social concept in many of our societies, it makes sense that the female quest for power and legitimacy has often relied on women embracing a masculine gender expression.
However, it can also be said that gender non-conformity has consistently been one of the ways that we dismantle patriarchy. By recognizing that gender roles aren’t fixed, rigid, and impenetrable we challenge the patriarchal notions that tell us otherwise.
Junior Burchall, a friend to the blog, perfectly critiques the asinine notion that homosexuality is un-African. He writes,
”These ‘conscious’ folks sound like European, bible-bashing, rapist-enslavers.
they have absolutely no handle on the history of the Motherland and how same sex sexual intimacy had a Continental presence that went back thousands of years. here are three examples, off the top:
among the Maale of southern Ethiopia, men who took on female roles and had sexual relationships with other men were called ASHTIME. they were not shunned by their community.
the Dagara (of Burkina Faso) viewed ‘homosexuals ‘ as gatekeepers charged with the supreme responsibility of shepherding people between the world of the flesh and the world of the Spirit.
among the Meru (of Kenya), same-sex, sexual relationships were seen as normal. indeed, some Meru who occupied positions of religious leadership (they were known as MUGAWE) often wore women’s clothes and hairstyles. they were also sometimes married to men. [NOTE: the aforementioned predated the arrival of europeans by many, many millennia].
these ‘conscious’ brothers are viewing Afrika through the pale, bleu eyes of the folks who brought them the king james version and made cruel sport of the slaughter of their Ancestors. and they think that – because they’ve read a few chapters of Diop and Dr Ben and have an uber-conscious-sounding online name – somehow, their homophobic bullshit is magically transformed into breakfast chock full of nutrient dense, culturally specific scholarship.
not so, not so…..
but, as with all systems predicated upon the aggressive suspension of reason and the uncritical devotion to the maintenance of oppressive hierarchy, the arguments of these pseudo-conscious, pseudo-afrocentric, Youtube minstrels are remarkably resistant to fact.
i tell ya, the always-busy intersection where various unjustly-acquired privileges converge makes for the strangest of bedfellows. it is there that you’ll find, for e.g., Umar Johnson and Mwalimu Baruti, cuddling up with the right reverend pat robertson and sharing sweet, homophobic nothings with the ever-insightful doyen of late twentieth century, lowbrow yankee bigotry, rush limbaugh)
call it what it is: pure, unadulterated, Eurocentric, patriarchal, anti-Feminine pfuckery.
…and yes, the ‘p’ is silent.”
People often assume that I became an atheist because of the homophobia present in many churches. In my own experience, however, it was the sexism that drove me away–the homophobia was just a secondary thing. The churches that I attended focused primarily on adultery which usually damned women for being tempting harlots out to ruin good church men. I grew up hearing a lot of sermons about women’s proper role in the church, a woman’s place, the head of the household, blah blah blah. I remember being infuriated when women in the church were told that they could not preach or “bring the word” because it was not “their place”. So, in terms of my own journey, it was biblical sexism that pushed me further and further away from the church more so than homophobia. The “You’re only atheist because you’re gay” argument that so many people want to tack onto me doesn’t hold. My feminist consciousness and Black liberation politics have had more to do with my atheism than anything else.
Different things motivate different people to start critically analyzing the concept of god: religious racism, religious sexism, religious homophobia, or perhaps religious disdain for scientific inquiry. What brings one to atheism can vary wildly.
It’s interesting how often people’s love of god translates into hatred of their fellow human beings.
Every feminist has a past, and every patriarch has a future. I am a witness to the potential for radical transformation!
This picture is being passed around the internet as proof of T.I. being a good father. I have to disagree though. Honestly, T.I. was a horny young boy at one point, too, and I am pretty sure that he has done and said worse to other people’s daughters. One need only listen to his music to see that he has said far worse. T.I. comes off as the typical patriarchal father who is less interested in his daughter’s disrespect, and more interested in his male ego and beating his chest. It has always struck me as odd that certain men don’t want their daughters and sisters to be treated the SAME way that they treat other people’s daughters and sisters. I’m sorry, but T.I. isn’t impressing me in this instance. He can keep all that patriarchal male bravado.