No one ever wants to be limited by the titles someone gives of them, and that goes for even the most impressively titled amongst us. Take Beyoncé. She isn't just a music mogul, or an actress, or a wife, or a mother, or even a feminist. She is all of those things and more. And in a new interview with Elle, Beyoncé said as much when asked about her feminism. Of course, she hasn't made her stance on the issue a secret. After all, as Elle points out, she did epically highlight the word in lights behind her while performing at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. But while that's all well and good, Bey doesn't want to be "boxed in" by her feminism.
While she is a tried and true feminist, she explained to Elle that she doesn't want that becoming the solitary social issue she's known for championing or the only attribute other than her talent and fame that people hang onto. Her reason for bringing her feminism into the spotlight was for the greater good, in order to demystify and normalize the word and the concept behind it.
The singer told Elle,
I put the definition of feminist in my song ["Flawless"] and on my tour, not for propaganda or to proclaim to the world that I'm a feminist, but to give clarity to the true meaning. I'm not really sure people know or understand what a feminist is, but it's very simple. It's someone who believes in equal rights for men and women. I don't understand the negative connotation of the word, or why it should exclude the opposite sex.
Bey just wanted to, once and for all, explain what feminism means. Because you know what? It is so "simple" but is frustratingly made to be more complicated than it actually is.
In addition to that, the Destiny's Child alum went on to explain that her feminism doesn't prevent her from being other things. When asked about feminism and femininity being mutually exclusive, she said, "We're not all just one thing. Everyone who believes in equal rights for men and women doesn't speak the same, or dress the same, or think the same." Feminism is really just one "ism" of many she identifies with.
When we talk about equal rights, there are issues that face women disproportionately. That is why I wanted to work with [the philanthropic organizations] Chime for Change and Global Citizen. They understand how issues related to education, health, and sanitation around the world affect a woman's entire existence and that of her children. They're putting programs in place to help those young girls who literally face death because they want to learn, and to prevent women from dying during childbirth because there's no access to health care. Working to make those inequalities go away is being a feminist, but more importantly, it makes me a humanist.
Does that make her less of a feminist? No, of course not. What it really does is emphasize her want for equality across genders to be a normal, universally accepted thing. Something that goes without saying or even thinking, like breathing.
I don't like or embrace any label. I don't want calling myself a feminist to make it feel like that's my one priority, over racism or sexism or anything else. I'm just exhausted by labels and tired of being boxed in. If you believe in equal rights, the same way society allows a man to express his darkness, to express his pain, to express his sexuality, to express his opinion — I feel that women have the same rights.
That's not to say that feminism doesn't still need to be championed by those with a wide reaching platform, like hers. I think we can all agree that we are still a long way off from feminism becoming commonplace. Bey's assertions are more so speaking to the root of feminism itself; women can be multi-hyphenates, just like men can. Perhaps her take on the whole thing can be best summarized in her answer to Elle's question about Blue Ivy and how the "Formation" singer would "want to make things different for her generation." Bey said, "I'd like to help remove the pressure society puts on people to fit in a certain box.
And there you have it.