"Welcome to my world."
That's how Beyoncé introduced her 17-minute performance at last night's MTV Video Music Awards. That world involves broadcasting the word "feminist" to millions of viewers in in big, capital letters in arguably the most unambiguous pop culture pronouncement that, Yes, feminism is here.
Beyoncé has spoken at length about her feminist awakening. Through Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's words, she laid out a definition for the term in her late-2013 album. As one of the world's most successful people, she declared gender equality a "myth" in 2014. And she reenacted Rosie the Riveter's "We Can Do It" pose on Instagram in July.
Last night, Beyoncé didn't just prove (re: remind us) that she's a feminist. She used a massive, multi-national platform to make sure we knew it matters. The moment represents a culmination of feminism's trickling from the edges into the pop culture mainstream -- a process Beyoncé, whether one agrees with her approach or not -- shot into overdrive.
Beyoncé's VMAs proclamation of feminism doesn't alleviate women's inequality, sexual assault, reproductive injustice or economic disparity, as HuffPost Entertainment's Lauren Duca pointed out. But it's a ringing endorsement for gender equality on a massive scale -- and at the very least, it got us talking.
Here's how women reacted to Beyoncé's celebration of feminism last night:
— Maria Shriver (@mariashriver) August 25, 2014
What Bey just did for feminism, on national television, look, for better or worse, that reach is WAY more than anything we've seen.
— Roxane Bey (@rgay) August 25, 2014
Really looking forward to the next magazine piece calling feminism dead or irrelevant. pic.twitter.com/2Ei2akJK4g
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) August 25, 2014
god that image of beyonce standing in front of the feminist sign made every single cell in my body tingle eff off haters bey forever
— Bec (@Brocklesnitch) August 25, 2014
— Caroline MT (@CaroMt) August 25, 2014
“I mean can we really consider Beyonce a feminist?” - that guy still has you cornered at a party, but these are his last words
— Veronica de Souza (@HeyVeronica) August 25, 2014
Anyone still saying "meh" re: Beyonce pls think about those huge letters spelling out feminist and why that, at least, might be a big deal.
— Hayley Hudson (@hayhud) August 25, 2014
My most cherished pop culture moment is witnessing Beyonce's journey from Destiny's Child & solo star to mother & feminist icon. #BeyMAs
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) August 25, 2014
Watching Beyonce slide down the stage with a big sign saying FEMINIST behind her just ended me. I am done. Goodbye. #BeyMAs
— Leila Brillson (@leilaclaire) August 25, 2014
HOW TO BE A FEMINIST A NOVEL BY BEYONCÉ
— heather mifflin (@spiffymiffyy) August 25, 2014
if you don’t yet realize that we’re deep in the age of black women leading feminism and every other important social movement, catch up.
— Jessica Blankenship (@blanketboat) August 25, 2014
I guess I’m gonna wallpaper my apartment with this. pic.twitter.com/Z8yG5UdA8O
— Allison P Davis (@AllisonPDavis) August 25, 2014
Literally no one finds it interesting that you're not that into Beyoncé, pls stand down
— Katie Heaney (@KTHeaney) August 25, 2014
I think it's rad that FEMINIST was in all caps on screen behind a pop star on MTV seen by SO many ppl + girls who will be impacted by it
— Bethany Cosentino (@best_coast) August 25, 2014
Beyonce has so many young female fans and the fact that she is so openly feminist is so important god bless u bey
— Sorcha (@sassysorcha) August 25, 2014
I guess ppl who want to lessen the Beyoncé VMA FEMINIST moment have never been influenced by pop culture or seen it influence anyone else.
— Jessica W. Luther (@scATX) August 25, 2014
Beyoncé embodies feminism. Just like y'all, she's human. She works, has a family, and tries to uplift women in the process.
— E to the Bizzle (@huegolden) August 25, 2014
I think tonight might be peak feminism in pop culture, ever. Thank you, Beyonce. Thank you, internet. ✊
— Sarah Marian Seltzer (@sarahmseltzer) August 25, 2014
👏No 👏white 👏feminist 👏has 👏ever 👏made 👏me 👏feel 👏this 👏good 👏about 👏feminism 👏like 👏👏👏Beyoncé 👏just 👏did 👏right 👏now.
— Natasha Vianna (@NatashaVianna) August 25, 2014
THE NEXT TIME A MAN ASKS ME WHAT BEYONCE HAS DONE FOR FEMINISM I WILL SIT HIM IN A CHAIR AND MAKE HIM WATCH THIS PERFORMANCE FOR 24 HOURS
— Tyler McCall (@eiffeltyler) August 25, 2014