British musician Annie Lennox, who is a longtime feminist and political activist, told PrideSource why she believes that Beyoncé is a “feminist lite” or “L-I-T-E” who uses the word as an outlet for self-promotion.
She called Beyoncé’s August performance at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards “tokenistic” and said that she wants to sit down with the singer to discuss her true feelings toward feminism. According to Lennox, other artists are guilty of spreading self-serving feminist propaganda too.
“I see a lot of it as taking the word hostage and using it to promote themselves, but I don’t think they necessarily represent the word wholeheartedly the depths of feminism–no, I don’t. I think for many it’s very convenient and it looks great and it looks radical, but I have some issues with it,” she confessed. “I have issues with it. Of course I do. I think it’s a cheap shot. I think what they do with it is cheap.”
While Beyoncé was performing “Flawless” at the awards ceremony, the word “Feminist” boldly lit up the stage behind her. Script written by the famous Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi was also displayed.
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller,” read the poem. “We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man.'”
Lennox wasn’t the only confused spectator following Bey’s performance. In fact, others questioned Beyoncé’s “movement” cred, too.
Beyoncé dancing in front of a neon sign at the VMAs gives about as much moral weight to “feminism” as a coca-cola or McDonalds endorsement.
— Claire Lehmann (@clairlemon) August 30, 2014
— Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) August 25, 2014
As far as contemporary feminism, Lennox feels that women avoid the issue so they’re not branded as “hating men.”
“It’s a process. It continues to be reframed, and necessarily so, because people’s relationship to the word has been a bit ambivalent over the last few decades. According to who you speak to, they don’t sometimes quite know what to do with the word,” she stated.
Lennox declared that men should become advocates for gender equality, much like Emma Watson’s “HeForShe” campaign, and called for more ambassadors for the gay community.
“I also feel very much that the LGBTQ movement and women’s movements need to get together far more frequently because we are coming from the same place of human rights and civil rights,” she said.