When Black Women Drank the Lemonade: On the Beyhive vis-à-vis Black Women & Feminism

By:  H.T. (@Gees3Howard)

As time goes on and the discourse between black women and men goes on, I can’t help but feel as though there is one party that plays into this that no one likes to bring up because they essentially intimidate people into silence.  I’m of course talking about the Beyhive.

I should point out that frankly I have no ill-will towards Beyonce and think as far as music goes, she makes songs and albums that will stand the test of time.  Her fans, however, are a different story.  First and foremost, the Beyhive suffers from a great deal of cognitive dissonance that feminist author Bell Hooks and singer Annie Lennox exposed in pointing out that for as much as Beyonce has turned herself into the biggest champion for black women’s feminism and liberation from the patriarchal and capitalist oppression on women, fact is Beyonce only has made it this far BECAUSE she benefits from those systems.  Face it, I think singers like Jazmine Sullivan or to an extent Nina Simone could be better used as the faces of black women’s liberation and could inspire a lot just off of how beautiful their voices are.  But because they weigh too much, are too dark or are too ugly to marketers they have the typical biases that block them.  Beyonce wins out because she’s thin, fair skinned and falls well within the margins of attractiveness as far as the media sees.  Doesn’t hurt that most of the time Beyonce is on stage she’s half naked and dancing around, which guys tend to like seeing an attractive woman do.  No, because Beyonce says what the Beyhive wants to hear, shows them what can easily be turned into a reaction GIF or just a cool avi or banner, and let’s them project their burdens with men on to her and Jay-Z.  Her fans remain, loyal, rabid and ready.

The Beyhive is the answer to the less spoken but often considered question of, “What would happen if an international icon weaponized their fan base?”  The answer is this, the Beyhive might literally be one of the most powerful and most polarizing entities both in pop culture and the culture of social justice.  Powerful as it leads down the road that black women who identify as feminist absolutely refuse to compromise in their views and view anyone that disagrees as an undesirable, or “ashy” or “hotep”.

The Beyhive continues the narrative that despite the great strides black women make and continue to make, the narrative is and should continue to be that black women are beaten, bruised and constantly a target by men, specifically black men.  With men, we’re expected to essentially beat ourselves into the ground for our sins by association or apathy, and with this, this is why I’ve never seen a man with a girlfriend or wife that loudly and proudly talks about being in the Beyhive that isn’t noticeably emasculated.

This goes to the biggest examples of this of all:  the males in Beyonce’s life.  Matthew Knowles might not be the perfect father and even he admits he screwed up at points, but the Beyhive treats that man with the utmost disrespect and I’ll get to why they go unchecked.  But perhaps the biggest target of the Beyhive is none other than Beyonces’ husband, Sean “Jay-Z” Carter.

If I’ve ever seen a bigger change in tones between two albums, the change between Beyonce’s self titled album and Lemonade takes the cake.  We went from think pieces on how Beyonce couldn’t really claim to be a feminist while explicitly talking about loving her husband and even naming her tour the “Mrs. Carter Tour” to whom Jay-Z cheated on her with and if she should leave.  The Beyhive doesn’t help things by making allusions to Beyonce and her long time bodyguard Julius are sleeping together while for years having figures in the media essentially pester Jay-Z public relation-wise into emasculating himself just to not piss off her fans, lest it reflect badly on her.

I’d like to take this time out in relation to Jay-Z to say what a lot of rap fans have said for years:  from the looks of times as they stand now, Nas won.  I’m sorry, but it’s the truth.  As they said on Fiyastarter podcast, Jay only won to every guy who in high school got teased, was called ugly and got no play.  Now they’re adults, and on the surface, Jay has the happier life, but at what cost?

The cost being that his wife has created a rogue state of fans who don’t (and honestly) can’t be stopped.  You speak out against her Beyhive, let alone Beyonce herself and if you go viral enough, these people will literally ruin your life over your opinions on a pop star.  People will defend it by saying, “Well they were racist!” or “They were sexist!” so what are you, the social justice Power Rangers?  It’s not your job or your place to ruin people’s lives on behalf of someone who likely is used to such statements and clearly has thicker skin than you.

Fact is, Beyonce isn’t the problem, it’s her fans.  Her rabid, rabid fans.  Well known and vocal fans of hers like Crissle, Feminista Jones and Jamilah Lemieux in their actions alone should tell you that Beyonce can’t stop them as they can easily turn on her, thus why she’s never at the very least asking fans to stop harassing her father on social media.  She knows that all it takes is one time for her to rightfully call out her fans for acting a fool and boom, she’s hated.  She’s a pick me now.  She’s ashy now.  Her fans are so vicious that they’d treat her like Louis XIV in 1793 over wanting fairness out of them.  Sadly this won’t be the last time a pop star creates a fan base that can’t be stopped from harming others as this is the nature of the beast in the age of social media.  May your respective deity help us all.

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