Speaker talks Beyonce’s influence

By Keith Hernandez

Students and faculty discussed Beyonce Knowles-Carter’s image as a self-proclaimed modern-day feminist Wednesday in the Student Holmes Center Sky Room.

Carrie Williams, assistant director of the LGBT and Women’s Resource Center, coordinated and hosted the event. Williams said the purpose of the occasion was to create an “intellectually stimulating conversation about a word that has been a taboo for some people, to create a safe space for a topic that many people are afraid to talk about.”

Williams began with an introduction to the three waves of feminism.

“The first wave is the women’s suffrage movement,” Williams said. “The term [women’s suffrage movement] was coined retroactively after second-wave feminism began to be used to describe a newer feminist movement.”

Williams said second-wave feminism, which originated in the 1960s, focuses on equality, civil rights and greater political action, especially for minority women.

Writer Rebecca Walker coined third-wave feminism in 1992 to address issues in second-wave feminism such as the exclusion of young women, non-heterosexual women and women of color.

Student assistants Jailon Berry and Romeo Jackson presented their points of view on Beyonce’s self-titled album in the context of recent comments from the pop star in which she said she guesses she is a modern-day feminist.

Berry questioned whether Beyonce really promotes feminism with songs like “Drunk in Love,” which Berry said is “a slap in the face to domestic violence.”

“What are you actually promoting?” Berry asked in a question directed toward Beyonce. “How are you actually helping individuals when you are doing the exact opposite of things that women have worked for?”

Jackson defended the song “Bow Down,” which he said speaks for black women in particular. He said he reads “Bow Down” as “much more of a ‘Hey, you deserve to be royalty. You deserve the respect of a queen.’”

Students talked about what Beyonce means when calling herself a modern-day feminist and also spoke about controversial aspects of her album.

Senior biology major Michael Sunderman said the term “modern day feminist” is almost used as an apology to say “I’m not what you think feminism is.”

“I think a lot of people have misconceptions about what feminism is,” Sunderman said.

Senior nursing major Alyssa Thompson said Beyonce’s sexuality is very visual on her album. That is something Beyonce intended to convey as a fantasy of sorts for her husband, according to a segment of a documentary about her album shown by Jackson during the event.

“She’s out there utilizing her body and showing it in a way that might get criticism,” Thompson said. “I’m glad that Romeo played the clip because I wouldn’t have known that was her idea of playing out a fantasy.”

Williams ended the discussion by stressing the importance of examining how feminism is shaped.

“I encourage you as well as others to educate yourselves,” Williams said. “We are all here together. Everyone is important. Everyone matters.”