“Can you pay my bills?
Can you pay my telephone bills?
Do you pay my automo’ bills?
If you did, then maybe we could chill
I don’t think you do
So, you and me are through” – “Bills” by Destiny’s Child
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter wrote what some are calling an essay on feminism for Maria Shriver’s underrated The Shriver Report* newsletter with the breaking-news headline Gender Equality Is A Myth!
This is that essay in its entirety:
“We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet. Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change. Men have to demand that their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters earn more—commensurate with their qualifications and not their gender. Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect.
IF WOMEN RECEIVED PAY EQUAL TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS, THE U.S. ECONOMY WOULD PRODUCE $447.6 BILLION IN ADDITIONAL INCOME.
Humanity requires both men and women, and we are equally important and need one another. So why are we viewed as less than equal? These old attitudes are drilled into us from the very beginning. We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.
We have a lot of work to do, but we can get there if we work together. Women are more than 50 percent of the population and more than 50 percent of voters. We must demand that we all receive 100 percent of the opportunities.”
In less than 250 words, Bey seems surprised to learn that the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes and comes to the logical conclusion that “we have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect,” and that “we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.”
Sure this all sounds fine and lovely, but this is the same kind of empty rhetoric that fills the verses of Bey’s “inspirational” singles like “Independent Women” — which was written for the soundtrack of that pro-feminism cinematic treasure Charlie’s Angels.
Mrs. Knowles-Carter’s catalogue boasts supposed female empowerment jams like “Single Ladies,” but that song is most remembered for an easily-mimicked dance move and a video in which she’s wearing a tight onesie. And she may optimistically claim that “girls run the world” (only to refute that within this essay), but until she digs a bit deeper with her “journalism,” she sounds like just another politician vacuously crying outrage without anything constructive behind it.
Cheerleading hoards are flocking to champion this “essay” though, not realizing that, for all its celebrity bells and whistles, it doesn’t say anything remotely controversial. Instead, it centers around a rallying cry that everyone already agrees with.
It’s the feminist equivalent of yelling “I love pizza!” or “Puppies are adorable!”
Let’s call this what it is: a name-grab on The Shriver Report’s part in hopes that people will read beyond just Bey Bey’s hollow indignity or LeBron James’ ode to his mommy and latch onto something like Hilary Clinton’s essay: “Increasing Economic Opportunities for Women: The Right Thing to Do and the Smart Thing to Do.”
I’d do it if I were them too, but that doesn’t mean we have to act like Beyoncé is marching on Washington.
* You can download the full Shriver Report here, but if anyone tries to paraphrase “If I Were A Boy” in the comment section, I’m going to remind you that Beyoncé once said that the word “feminist” could be “very extreme,” and then I’m going to go stab myself with the broken shards of a Destiny’s Child CD.