If you're attacking Beyoncé's feminist credentials because she chooses to use her husband's surname, because she chooses to be a mother, because she sometimes adopts a submissive perspective in her music, then it's your feminist credentials that are in question.
Feminism isn't about encouraging women to live a certain way. It is, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie puts it on the album, about "the social, political and economic equality of the sexes." Full stop.
Feminism isn't about rescuing women from marriage or motherhood. It isn't about the decisions women make at all. It's about a woman's right to make those decisions for herself -- and it's about promoting a culture in which those decisions are respected. Respected not because they're the decisions we'd make, but because they aren't our decisions to make in the first place.
If you are criticizing Beyoncé for naming her most recent tour "The Mrs. Carter Show," then you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. (And, by the way, isn't it possible that the name of the tour is meant ironically?)
That said, while I'd like to think we can lay claim to music that goes beyond Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez, there's a bigger issue here than whether one artist gets to call herself a feminist or not.
But all of us feminists arguing in the comment sections should recognize that true feminism shouldn't ignore the fact that gender inequality isn't the only inequality worth recognizing, attacking, and ultimately defeating.
At Planned Parenthood, we're often accused of representing "white feminism" -- a perspective that focuses too narrowly on rights and excludes concerns about access and justice.
Sometimes, these criticisms hit home. We could all stand to check our privilege.
The truth is that reproductive rights, economic justice, and access to power are all inseparable elements of the feminist movement. If you care about any part of it, you have to care about the whole of it.
Feminism isn't just about sexual politics and reproductive health. Feminists have to care about the tax code. Feminists have to care about the minimum wage. Feminists have to care about voting rights.
Feminists have to care about the unique obstacles faced by women of color, women in poverty, women in rural communities, women of all sexual orientations, women in the military, and women with disabilities.
Most of all, feminists must recognize that the power we seek for every woman -- the power to make your own decisions -- does not come with strings attached. Women don't owe feminists anything. And it does us no good to fight so hard for a woman's right to make her own choices if we then turn around and tell her she's made the wrong ones.
What decides whether or not I, indeed, am a feminist isn't the choices I make in my own life. It's whether I'm truly committed to empowering every woman to make whatever choices are right for her own life.
So for me the question isn't whether Beyoncé passes that test -- it's whether her critics do.
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