In defence of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter

SCREAMING IN ALL CAPS: another feminist response to pop culture.

Disclaimer: This will be YET ANOTHER column dedicated to your favourite pop star and mine, Beyoncé. As a commenter on all things pop culture, I feel I would be remiss if I DIDN’T mention Beyoncé, seeing as she’s busy lighting up the headlines like she lit up the Superbowl. The Superdome, to quote a fellow music scribe, was not ready for that jelly. (Because apparently I crowdsource my jokes from Twitter now.)

She did indeed put on an electrifying show that more than made up for the fact she pulled an Ashlee Simpson (aka the pop culture touchstone for lip syncing) at the presidential inauguration, and I always love a singer who’s willing to get a little ugly for the sake of her live performance. (I make those very same faces in my step aerobics class and, let me tell you, I look nowhere near as fabulous.)

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Amid the (mostly) glowing reviews of the half-time show, there’s been some backlash — from PETA, most recently, because apparently Bey elected to wear a bodysuit made out of “python, iguana and cow.” But then there’s also this piece from The Independent that got me thinking about Beyoncé and her supposed politics — and how much of those politics we project onto her.

Basically, this column by the wonderful Grace Dent takes issue with the fact that the woman who penned the anthem “Independent Women” is “off on tour as Mrs. Carter on The Mrs. Carter Tour.”

You see, Beyoncé Knowles got married to Jay Z (aka Shawn Corey Carter), had a baby and, ostensibly, changed her name. Wikipedia says she’s Beyoncé Knowles-Carter but WHATEVER.

While I agree with lots of the column, particularly the excellent paragraph in which she posits that if losing one’s name wasn’t a big deal then men would do it (PREACH), her only real offense here is having a vom-inducing Betty Crocker tour name. I don’t think Beyoncé has to turn in her feminist card for taking her husband’s name, nor do I think that she’s sending the “message to a billion little girls is that your surname isn’t important.”

I have several reasons. One, while I personally plan on keeping my name because my name is awesome, keeping one’s name is a bit of a flawed feminist statement, mostly because our family names tend to be our father’s names (PATRIARCHY STRIKES AGAIN). Secondly, I’m pretty sure Beyoncé’s always going to be Beyoncé. Her name could be Beyoncé Pad Thai (I love you, Mindy Kaling) and absolutely no one would care because SHE’S BEYONCÉ. Thirdly, while Beyoncé is a positive role model who has penned some empowering anthems to be sure, she’s always been something of a traditionalist. I mean, are we really shocked that the woman who advised countless men, “if you like it then you should have put a ring on it” took her husband’s name?

If we’re going to be taking back Beyoncé’s feminist card for anything, it should be for that song and its damaging legacy as the single-shaming soundtrack to the bouquet toss.


Jen Zoratti is a Spectator Tribune columnist and freelance music scribe. Her favourite Beyoncé song is Run The World (Girls), obvs. Follow her on Twitter @JenZoratti.