As a female audiophile, the women presented in the music industry have shaped my view on the role of women in society, female sexuality and feminine strength.
Luckily, I was smart enough to take everything I saw with a grain of salt.
The “Is It All”: Beyonce
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Beyonce represents a slightly egotistical, theatrical form of society’s female. She looks fabulous, and she simply states, “I woke up like this.” This is wonderful to dream of, I suppose, but not true to life. It is especially not realistic if you pin it to the recent wave of the feminist movement.
Truthfully, Beyonce is a paradoxical figure for women, especially as of late.
As she seems to have found a more raw, somewhat natural image to project, concerts still contain a flurry of leotards displaying dancer bodies and sexual girl power. Said girl power, however, seldom includes all girls; it seems the power is in one girl, and we are supposed to celebrate her beautiful prowess.
The contradictory nature of Beyonce’s image only develops in her songs released over the past decade and a half. “Bills Bills Bills” from Destiny’s Child paints the woman as the breadwinner, fully capable of providing for both herself and her greedy partner, on which she was never dependent. However, “Partition” off of her most recent album states, “I just wanna be the kind of girl you like,” displaying a sexual reliance on a certain man. Then, to bounce back on the feminist train, “Pretty Hurts” rejects the superficial bind society traps women in. The intellectual climax sits in the line, “Perfection is a disease of a nation.” The sentiment is hardly believable coming from the woman that ate up the “Queen Bey” nickname, then photoshopped in thigh gaps to erase the calorie aftermath.
Beyonce ultimately, when consuming her career as a whole, leaves women with a catchy tune and only the most superficial of girl power lyrics.
The “Does It All”: Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani serves as a similar (more realistic) model to Beyonce. She serves as a mold for today’s perfect woman, but she does it in a way that evokes envy in even non-fans. She is what most American women try to become: She has a successful career in full swing (albums, fashion lines, a place on a TV show), has a beautiful family and also has her own time to find and express herself through style.
Of course, this could all be a mirage waiting to reveal the truth at any second, in the form of any piece of dirt tabloids can find on Stefani. Much like the image of a perfect family, which may crumble around the matriarch with neighborhood rumors.
Her song with No Doubt, “Just A Girl,” also displays Stefani’s view on women’s position and rights. As a still somewhat attainably perfect figure, the sharing of this ideal reminds female listeners of their American democratic need for a voice and place in their communities. The effect is ultimately that of a passionate girl friend poetically evoking emotion about the occasional discrimination against the listener.
Gwen Stefani shows us a successful balance of family, fashion and career, elements of the American woman’s life. Her image implies that we as women can indeed “have it all.”
The “Says It All”: Keny Arkana
Keny Arkana, as a French-Argentine female rapper with a long history in foster care, has plenty to say about the world around her. Her messages vary, but the theme is clear: civil disobedience and/or alter-globalization.
In her iconic song “La Rage,” or “The Rage,” her poetic and meaningful lyrics display her views on modern government and society.
“…the rage, for the irreparable has been piling up for a long time…”
“…we will neither shut up nor sit down, for now we’ll be ready, because we’ve got the rage, the heart and faith…”
“…the rage, for the western world still wears its colonial dress…”
“…They prefer holding the power and handling us as their tools…”
The beauty behind Arkana is her strength, her appeal, sans superficial packaging. The image she presents is a people’s hero. The people of Marseille, her home region, are featured in multiple videos, representing the community and strife Arkana expresses a love/distaste for.
Keny Arkana displays a courage women (and men alike) rarely tap into, especially so publicly. She revives the era of social and personal conviction.