Beyoncé’s Pregnancy: What it Means to Me
When thinking about what to review this week, I realized I should probably write about the topic I’ve been singularly obsessed with since Sunday. Beyoncé Knowles is pregnant, and Jay-Z is the father. This baby, nicknamed “Baby Bey-Z” by the most culturally aware, is poised to have the most access to anything cool ever that has ever existed. I know I am a huge fangirl for Jay-Z and Beyoncé, but think about it – the kid has the two most influential people in pop culture for parents, they actually love each other and are each incredibly talented.
What got me so excited about her pregnancy was the way she informed the world of it. She was at the American MTV VMAs, which is basically one of the stupidest awards showS there is. However, I watched the VMAs for the first time in maybe 8 years this year because there was a huge hurricane in New York that weekend that kept us from doing anything else. There were maybe only like ten awards given out that night; the only interesting thing about the show is the musical performances.
During the obligatory Michael Jackson tribute section, Beyoncé performed “Love On Top”, a song from her most recent album 4 that channels the 80’s style of Stevie Wonder and Jackson himself. She absolutely killed the performance – the song is not the easiest in the world to perform, as there are multiple half-key changes throughout the last two minutes. She danced around beautifully, sang everything the right way and did the whole thing in heels higher than anything I’ve ever stood on. At the end of the performance, she unbuttoned her MJ-inspired sequined jacket and rubbed her stomach, formally announcing to the world that she is pregnant. The camera immediately cut to an ecstatic Jay-Z and Kanye West, and sitting there in my sister’s apartment I realized that it was one of the purest moments of joy that I have felt in quite some time.
I am serious. I know it’s weird, bear with me. As I have been analyzing this over the past six days, I started thinking about what that whole scenario means in the light of feminism. I’ve never really argued that Beyoncé is the postmodern feminist icon before, but watching the performance made it all click for me.
Beyoncé has created a global brand around herself that includes everything from albums to perfumes and rakes in as much money as anything Jay-Z does. She is sweet as can be in photos and interviews but when she performs she gives it all. Her work ethic is undeniable, and she stays connected to her fans thanks to an amazingly real sense of self that is conveyed through her music. That’s where her and Jay-Z overlap. They each are on the top of their respective games in terms of talent, but they are so accessible it makes you feel like you might know them. It is clear they are in love, and now they are finally starting a family. When you look at it like that, of course I’d be happy beyond what is societally acceptable. Beyoncé has it all.
While I’m not sure being a superwoman is the new feminist ideal, it’s interesting to watch her in this performance especially. I highly doubt Beyoncé went out there with any clear feminist intentions, but what speaks so highly to me is that there was just as much power as there was love in what she was doing. Yes, she conforms to the traditional gender role of a woman, becoming a mother in front of the whole world, but only after she proves yet again that she is a force to be reckoned with while performing and gets the entire crowd on their feet with a pop song that has substance and reminds the crowd that the USA can someday be wholesome again.