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