It seemed that as soon as I left New York City the social justice thoughts that had churned in my brain throughout Moxie began to slip my mind. I instantly became focused on my end of summer plans and the upcoming fall semester. I’ve met some turbulence juxtaposing my everyday life with the ideas and theories I learned during Moxie. It has sometimes seemed unrealistic to totally address and stay in tune with my life and society through a feminist lens at all times. Perhaps during this time I have even lost my critical understanding of Beyoncé – or I have just altered it.
This week Beyoncé released a remix of her song Flawless featuring the Queen of Rap herself, Nicki Minaj. Without thinking too hard about it, I listened to the song and almost immediately understood it to be feminist in my mind. I viewed the two leading music artist’s collaboration emblematic of the girl power/female unity themes of feminism. Next, I felt that their ultimate message of self acceptance and confidence were clear and palpable. And although in its communication this message was laced with sexual references it occurred to me that the two female artists were not necessarily sexually objectifying themselves. Normally I have viewed many pop songs with a clear-cut knowledge of what sexual objectification looks like. However, now it seems to me that Beyoncé and Minaj actively and purposefully skew and utilize their sexuality in order to explain exactly what they mean. Does that make their message any less valuable or relevant or feminist? Nope. When Beyoncé says “you wish I was your poundcake” is she sexually objectifying her body or subjectively expressing her own sexuality with stylish arrogance?
I’m starting to realize and appreciate that the work of feminism cannot be done in a vacuum and will almost never be neatly accomplished to everyone’s liking. As TIME contributor Sarah Miller argued, I think that feminism should recognize the chaos and ambiguity present in our world. Feminism, like all other forms of thought, must consider the world holistically and appreciate peoples intersecting perspectives. We must realize that taking the good with the bad is not giving up, but that it is at least moving forward.