So, I stumbled upon the Billboard Awards pre-show and tried to watch. I could only get through a few short minutes, though, because I had all this commentary and no place to put it. It was practically making me itch. What else is there to do in these circumstances except to blog?
The host made much of Beyonce and Taylor Swift’s open use of the the F word. Just as I was trying to remember the few lyrics I might know from “Drunk in Love” the word “feminist” splashed across the screen. I’ve tried to put aside my academic elitism and be more open to the idea that Beyonce is a feminist star. Seriously, I just can’t get there. There’s so little nuance. The idea that “girls run the world” might be nice, but it’s not a reality. I mean, girls don’t even run this country. Then, Swift says that feminism is only now mainstream and she believes that it will continue to have an impact for the next few decades. I’m hoping that she wasn’t actually saying what I think she was saying because it sounded like she was saying that feminism was some tiny, fringe movement until this moment—you know, when Taylor Swift arrived on Earth. And what’s going to happen after feminism has its moment? When its impact ends after “the next few decades” will the country/world go back to its June Cleaver aspirations? I’m not sure what she meant exactly, but again, it seems short-sighted. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t discount the ways in which the likes of Beyonce and Swift intersect with third wave feminism. But I also wouldn’t put either of them at the center of the movement simply because they sing songs about breaking up with their boyfriends.
Nicki Minaj then says that she doesn’t believe women have to be anyone’s girlfriend, and the host points out that Minaj isn’t afraid to be overtly sexual. I can’t begin to unpack the complicated ways in which Minaj both undermines and bolsters feminism’s concept of gender equality. But I do know that her consciously constructed public persona makes me uncomfortable. In part, this is because I’m not sure that such overwhelmingly sexualized rhetoric emerges from a desire to express oneself; I suspect that it is just another response to the same male-centered ideas that generate lots of other ideas about who women should be.
Then, there is Meghan Trainor and her declaration that she’s bringing booty back. The host notes her refusal to be fat shamed. Ok, yeah. But every single time I hear that line I think, “Hello, Miss! Some of us never lost it!” Many women of color have always known that there’s value and beauty in a curvy hips and round bottoms and thick thighs. Why would Trainor, in particular, be the chosen one to bring it back? I am totally giving her the side-eye.
I think perhaps all of my internal dialogue is a sign that I'm old . . . .