Remember Beyoncé’s music video for “Run the World (Girls)”?
Do girls really run the world, though, Beyoncé? From the moment I first heard the song and the lyrics, I had a problem with it, even though it was supposed to be some sort of anthem of empowerment for women. The video was later released, and I was curious to see what new perspective to the song it could offer. Maybe there was something I missed?
But then I thought about it some more. The gender disparity is still very much alive not only in our own society, but throughout the world. In the workplace, the educational system, the portrayals in the media, even within the home. How can girls, or rather, those of us who identify as women, be claimed to run the world? So, the title isn’t working for me either. And then, there’s the question: why does one sex have to run anything? Why can’t both female and male co-exist and figure it out side by side? Ending oppression by oppressing your oppressors doesn’t seem like progress.
The video opens with dramatic slow sequences and musical score, setting up the tone for the whole thing. We see a glamorous Beyoncé on horseback, then banging her fist on top of a car, in a seemingly deserted wasteland of war. All reminiscent of warriors and the struggle to overcome, perhaps. The beat and the song kick in and there are two armies, one of the oldest binaries and dichotomies ever known: girls versus boys, the battle against the sexes. The boys have actual soldier attire, and weapons to dive into the battlefield with. What do the girls have? Tight, revealing outfits not practical for combat at all, and their sexuality combined with provocative dance moves as their lethal weapons. If you’re a girl, you have to use your body and be manipulative to be powerful in the world, not your mind and your strengths as a person. Those were the thoughts running in my head and not: if you’re a girl, you can be just as powerful as any one of the boys because you’re just as capable. That was probably what the intended message was, though.
It’s interesting that femininity is being emphasized in contrast to masculinity, most likely with the intent of celebrating and owning femininity for yourself if you identify as a woman. However, I don’t think it really works for the overall message of empowerment the song and video aim to portray. In order to strengthen the message that women are just as capable as men in society, I think it would have worked better if they’d been given the soldier’s uniforms and weapons on both sides, even if the overall designs were a bit different. It would have worked to unite both groups of people by emphasizing their similarities as humans, since the differences between women and men is what separates people. Girls don’t run the world, and it shouldn’t be about who runs the world. It should be about how we all should work together to keep the world running.
So, nice try, B, but this one didn’t really cut it as an anthem for gender equality.
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