Beyonce's "Bow Down": How Did She Go So Wrong?

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You may have noticed, if you saw our Superbowl Halftime coverage, that we're quite enamored with Beyonce. We said things like: "If there is a more compelling pop performer than Beyonce on Earth right now, we have yet to find them," and: "Bey is living, kicking proof that wearing revealing, leathery outfits doesn't have to mean looking like a weak-willed sex toy." We are believers in Beyonce and we are believers in Destiny's Child. So what the holy hell is Beyonce thinking with this new single, "Bow Down"?

We've loved Beyonce so much because she is a superstar who appeals to the mainstream, but never compromises her values. And, more than that, she is a woman who actively pushes for the advancement of other women. She has an all-female band. She writes songs called "Run the World (Girls)". And before that, she wrote songs called "Independent Women" and "Survivor."

Beyonce, whether she directly identifies herself as such, is a feminist. She's always been a feminist. She's always made a big deal about the importance of women having their own income, so they never have to rely on a man, or be under a man's control. In addition to her overwhelming vocal and dance talent, these are the things that have made her truly special in a sea of pop-tarts. Which is why we're taking such issue with "Bow Down." 



The issue is not the song. Beyonce doesn't release songs that aren't catchy. She doesn't release songs that aren't interesting creatively. But "Bow Down," lyrically, goes against everything that her last 20-plus years in the spotlight have emphasized -- and, oh boy, it rubs us the wrong way.

Pop music in 2013 is not interested in the rights or the wants of women. Divas are not interested in other women, the way that Beyonce always has been. Divas are interested in themselves, and most modern female pop stars are more interested in presenting themselves as sex objects than backing up their fellow ladies or pushing women's issues (*cough* -- Rihanna -- *cough*). Beyonce has been our pop saving grace for a while.

In her recent HBO documentary, Life Is But A Dream, Bey asserted that: "I'm always thinking about women and what we need to hear. It's difficult being a woman. It's so much pressure. We need that support and we need that escape sometimes." Later in the film, she said "I need my sisters." Even later, she emphasized (quite rightly) that: "Women have to work much harder to make it in this world. It really pisses me off that women don't get the same opportunities as men do. Or money for that matter."

So when Beyonce releases a song that has lyrics that include: "I know when you were little girls/ You dreamt of being in my world/ Don't forget it, don't forget it/ Bow down, bitches", it alarms the absolute shit out of us. How did this happen? Did Jay-Z and Kanye wander into the studio during a vulnerable moment of hers, and convince her that adopting a stupid rap-centric superiority complex was a good idea? How the hell is this even Beyonce? How is this giving her fans what they want? It's a goddamn bitch-slap.

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Beyonce has always made other women feel good. "If I can do it, you can do it!" she seemed to be yelling. So for her to turn around and tell the same women to "Bow Down," isn't just offensive, it's actually really upsetting on a personal level. Why have you abandoned the ladies, Bey? When did you quit being humble and relatable? 

"We have to re-shape our own perception of how we view ourselves," Beyonce said during Life Is But A Dream. " We have to step up as women and take the lead and reach as high as humanly possible. That's what I'm gonna do." We loved that assertion, Bey. We just didn't know it was going to be followed by you telling other women to bow down to you. Not cool, lady. Not cool.

-- @Raemondjjjj

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11 comments
chriswiseowl
chriswiseowl

Take it easy. It's just a song. It's just pop music. Simmer down. It's meant to be enjoyed, not dissected. It's pop music, fluff, cotton candy like all pop songs are. What's the problem?

cinthehous
cinthehous

As I read your article you state that Beyonce is someone we all looked up to, no, she is someone you look up to.  Just because she has money and a career, I have never looked up to her or any other artist because they are just human beings with flaws like me.  When you state that we, susbstitute that with an I, because you only look up to her.  I look up to GOD.

cinthehous
cinthehous

....another thing, it's good to see an artist grow and not stay stuck in time.  Sorry Beyonce, but you are still in the teeny bop years, grow up, you and all the other singers who feel that you have to pacify and lose your self respect for a specific audience just to make money.  Is it worth it!!!! 

joshuawoodz
joshuawoodz

Boohoo!  She stopped being a feminazi and you guys think that is a BAD thing?  Wow.....

BabsSzabo
BabsSzabo

I'm going to preface this by saying I never waste time commenting on blog posts. To look at a person, whether in a personal or public sense, and assume that they will not change is absurd. Yes, Beyonce has always promoted girl power and independence. She also has a 15+ year career to reflect on and say, "you know what, respect me, bow down, I've worked my ass off to get to the top." I think it is amazing that she stepped out of her comfort zone and made such a badass song. Has, for example, your writing style not changed/ improved over time? I hope it has. That's the point of life: improving, changing, following your heart, and staying true to your creative instincts. I think this song says more about Beyonce than all of her past girl power messages, and that is to step out of your comfort zone and put something new and different out into the world even though you know people probably won't understand. Just as you don't. Oh, and the beat is next level incredible. 

elvagotrago
elvagotrago

Compare that with Madonna's "Die Bitch, Die" lyrics and the massive popularity of 50 Shades and you have a coherent picture of where women's attitudes are these days.

rae_alexandra
rae_alexandra

@BabsSzaboBeyonce has continually stepped out of her comfort zone and grown and progressed in her career. Always. And I would not begrudge her the opportunity to reflect and have a moment of reveling in her success. Generally, I don't necessarily even take the term "bitches" to mean women, so she could've written this song in a more general "screw you, haters" kind of way and I'd have taken zero issue with it. Instead, she specifies that she's talking to her female admirers! "I know when you were little girls/ You dreamt of being in my world". Her fans, no less! It's an insult. Take that line out and you'd be correct. Sadly, the line is there and the song is ruined.

cinthehous
cinthehous

@rae_alexandra @BabsSzabo = I agree with you 100% - her target audience are the little girls, who are now grown women, who once looked up to her and wanted to be like her, those are the ones she wants to bow down.  Didn't someone tell her that you never bite the hand that feeds you.  If not, she'll learn soon enough when her sales fall through the floor.   This song is one of the worst I have ever heard and this is not only including her music, but other artist who feel using foul language promotes good music.

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