Beyoncé Knowles-Carter brings out the giddy girl and boy in all of us. It’s why First Lady and Woman-in-Chief Michelle Obama says that if she could be anyone else, it would be Bey. We are again reminded of her greatness as Oprah, Queen of the Universe, titters as she picks the dress she would wear to interview the superstar for her Next Chapter series. Regardless of our level of adoration for the pop icon, musician, businesswoman, role model and overall beast, we recognize that every move she makes will bring her name to our tongues.
We’ve especially seen her power in the past few months, as she’s announced her work on new music and a series of concert dates that the maven has aptly titled The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. The Internet was just ablaze dissecting the feminist (or anti-, according to some) meanings behind her newest single, “Bow Down/I Been On”, where Bey reminds everyone that, as my grandmother used to say, “every shut eye ain’t sleep.” Her break to live, to mother, to love apparently doesn’t mean that she’s left her throne.
But what I am most fascinated by, what makes me the most elated, is how Beyoncé has let the world in to witness the gorgeous, vulnerable, plain-sweet love she has for her husband and family. It occurred to me watching her interview with Oprah, and even more from her recent HBO special, that Beyoncé’s love-speak is just what the game needs.
I remember dating a guy in my early 20s who would say he wanted to “love me like high school,” in a thick, sexy Jamaican accent as we’d dance to Dennis Brown in the living room of my tiny apartment. I laughed him off then and considered him ridiculous until I (much later) realized his true point and intention.
When we think of our first romantic loves, we remember the butterflies, the fluttering hearts and eyes, and the lack of complications. As we age, we boss-up on the love thing. We layer in the bits of bitterness and cynicism that we delude ourselves into believing will protect us from heartache and pain. We laugh less, accept less and judge more. And our expectations can become insurmountable; they keep us distant and “invulnerable,” and we pretend we like that.
But we don’t. The truth is, we all want that high-school love, the kind I can’t help but hear when Beyoncé speaks Jay-Z’s name. A love that appears so innocent and pure that my mind wants to name it naïveté. It’s not though.
If we know anything, we know Beyoncé isn’t naïve to a damn thing. She retells us in “Bow Down” that although she adores her husband (causing an uproar by giving her tour his last name), she is much, much more than his wife. Which is quite remarkable actually, because she makes these kinds of statements while appearing to be what most would consider a very “traditional” wife and mother.
And as we ingest our feelings about whatever we think “tradition” means, we must ponder: what could be more revolutionary than choosing to be a woman quite simply in love with her man when she could be presenting the exact opposite narrative? Beyoncé is a force sans Jay-Z, and yet their open affection and adulation seems devoid of struggles for power. In fact, Beyoncé mentioned in Life Is but a Dream that her husband has made her more powerful by teaching her the benefit of standing up for herself and her art without the compromises we’re taught we should make as women seated in high posts. “It’s every woman’s dream to feel this way about someone,” she said. I’d argue it’s every human’s dream.
As women champion equality and humanity around the world (Beyoncé included, mentioning empowerment, equal pay, and standing up for her art in the HBO doc), we also need to remember that we sometimes need to be soft, and tender. And that we need to create partnerships where we feel safe to do so.
Josie Pickens is a writer, educator and cultural critic who blogs at www.jonubian.com. Connect with her on Twitter @jonubian.