I must have watched Beyonce’s new single ‘Run the World (Girls)’ on YouTube about 20 times this week. Visually, it’s faultless, but am I the only person who think the supposedly empowering lyrics are actually anything but?
If you haven’t yet seen Beyonce’s performance of new single ‘Run the World (Girls)’ at last weeks 2011 Billboard Music Awards then I’d do so quick smart, because it’s brilliant. She interacts with virtual drum sticks, globes and a flock of birds via a huge screen behind her, brings out an army of scantily clad backing dancers and does a mesmerising jerky shoulder dance that I’ve been trying to emulate without success. You can watch a ten-minute version below, preceded by a rather unnecessary show reel of sycophantic comments from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga and Michelle Obama. The music video for the single is great too – more girl armies, more shoulder dancing and a killer Alexander McQueen dress. Watch it here.
However, I’ve got a bit of a problem with the song, or more specifically, the lyrical content. You see, Beyonce asks the rhetorical question ‘who run[s] the world?’ and gives the answer ‘girls.’ OK, so far, so empowering. But later lyrics belie the supposed feminist message. ‘My persuasion can build a nation…you’ll do anything for me,’ claims Beyonce. So it seems that what she’s really saying is not that girls actually run the world, but they control the men that do, using their feminine wiles. Which is hardly the stance of an independent woman is it now?
Don’t get me wrong, I realise it’s just a pop song, not a political manifesto, but if you’re going to write a song called declaring that girls are ‘taking over the world,’ it seems a bit disingenuous to suggest that they’re only doing it by influencing men. Why can’t girls build their own nations?