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Brayan Padilla

Professor Granillo

English 103

10 April 2019

Music Artists Are Popularizing Feminism

Throughout history, music has become more and more important for humans, due to the

fact that it helps us to express our emotions or to recognize issues within society. Public figures

or artists tend to write songs that include messages that can change society's perspective. For

example, Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy” has a clear sense of feminism and female empowerment.

In the book, “Critical Theory Today” written by Lois Tyson, gives a brief definition of feminism.

According to Tyson, feminism is “[The] literature reinforces or undermines the economic,

political, social, and psychological oppression of women,” (79). Beyoncé wrote this song to

present to society that men have it easier than women do. Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy” proclaims

that music lends to a sexist view of the world, while controversial, the sentimental pop hit

delivers an indication of the things that patriarchy does to hurt women in everyday life. While on

the subject of feminism theories such as the angel versus monster dichotomy, demonstrate the

harmful surroundings women are thrust into and that men can have power over the sentiments of

women; Consequently, without “If I Were a Boy’s” existence on the internet and Youtube, many

people will still not give women a place as equally as men.

Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy” shows her and her husband saying words, such as

“honesty”, and “us” at the beginning of the music video. Furthermore, Beyoncé is getting ready

for work, while her husband is making breakfast for her. Beyoncé’s husband is always looking

for gifts for her and not hanging out with friends to stay with her; However, Beyoncé is always
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hanging out with friends and not with her husband. Beyoncé’s husband found out that her wife

had a romance with her coworker, which later he decided to confront her. When Beyoncé and her

husband were talking Beyoncé said, “It’s not like I’m sleeping with the guy” (“If I Were a Boy”

00:03:44- 00:03:48). After Beyoncé’s response both switch roles and she start to cry. The song

and video are addressing young adults, and adults that are in a relationship but are having

problems with their partners (“If I Were a Boy” 00:01:58- 00:02:07). Beyoncé’s song has a

strong sense of pathos, pathos is the affecting appeal, which point is to persuade an audience by

appealing to their emotions. People who watched the music video and lyrics can identify pathos

due to the fact that she has a worried tone when singing, and because of the story that is been

presented in the video. Many critics believe that Beyoncé’s music is unique because of the

emotions that she is transmitting by listening to her music. On the contrary, other people may

have negatives about her music.

A number of critics have recently suggested that the world looks bad due to new artists

and its inappropriate content. In the article, “Modern Bey Feminism: Rap vs. Feminism”

published by the University of California, Davis gives some key points on why artists such as

Beyoncé are inappropriate. According to the University of California, Davis, “the music industry

lends to a misogynistic view of the world, and artists like [...] Beyoncé are merely perpetuating

these ideas when they continue to rap and sing about women in a negative way” (Davis). In

making this comment, UC Davis believes that Beyoncé is utilizing her music to denigrate

women. However, UC Davis’ argument is based in a Jay-Z song where Beyoncé had

collaborated. Many people are concerned about Beyoncé because she allowed negative content

in her music. On the other hand, “If I Were a Boy” has a totally different value and talks about

things that women go through in a relationship. For example, men hurt women by cheating, been
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dishonest, and getting drunk (“If I Were a Boy” 00:02:50- 00:03:15). Beyoncé is showing these

situations because they can cause mental pain and can change how a woman thinks about men.

In addition, there are more theories that display the environment that women are into.

People know the existence of many feminist theories and one of them is the angel

dichotomy. Tyson the author of the book, “Critical Theory Today,” gives a brief definition of

this dichotomy. Tyson himself writes, “if she accepts her traditional gender role and obeys the

patriarchal rules, she’s a[n] [...] ‘angel’” (85). In making this comment, Tyson believes that in

order to be identified as an “angel” woman have to follow the rules implied by patriarchal

ideologies. In Beyoncé’s song, “If I Were a Boy,” the audience can identify this angel dichotomy

if they pay attention to the video. The music video shows Beyoncé showing her police partner

how to shoot a gun (“If I Were a Boy” 00:01:36- 00:01:47). Beyoncé is taking the role of a man,

which means that her co-worker is representing an “angel”. The policeman is representing this

angel dichotomy because he is obeying Beyoncé’s orders of how to shoot a gun. In today's

society, women, in order to be identified as “good girls,” have to follow the conditions and rules

that men put on the female sex. Men rules can affect and benefit our society. By contrast, women

can be identified as “monsters” if they do not follow men's rules.

The angel dichotomy has its opposite, which is the monster dichotomy. The book,

“Critical Theory Today,” present an explanation of what is this monster dichotomy. As a

prominent writer Tyson puts it, “‘bad girls’ (violent, aggressive, wordly, monstrous). These

characterizations imply that if a woman does not accept her patriarchal gender role, then the only

role left her is that of a monster” (85). Tyson makes it clear that women have been oppressed by

men that is the reason why Beyoncé came out with her song “If I Were a Boy.” The monster

dichotomy can be identified in the video when Beyoncé had a fight with her partner. Beyoncé’s
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partner in the video found her dancing with her co-worker, therefore, Beyoncé was cheating. As

a result, Beyoncé’s partner confronted her which represents him as a “monster” (“If I Were a

Boy” 00:03:09- 00:03:19). Beyoncé in the video is been shown as the man and her partner is

been shown as the girl. Beyoncé’s partner is representing a monster because he confronted her in

the bar and in the car since she cheated on him. Supporters of patriarchy believe that women

should not complain about this kind of situation. In short, the idea that women cannot confront a

man has an impact on our society because people are keeping the ideas imposed by men.

However, this is the twenty-first century and women have to change the environment that they

are into.

These two concepts or dichotomies can be harmful to women. Tyson explains why the

angel versus monster dichotomy is affecting women. Tyson argues that “both roles are

projections of patriarchal male desire: for example, [...] the desire to control women’s sexuality

so that men’s sexuality cannot be threatened in any way, and the desire to dominate in all

financial matters (Tyson, 85). Tyson’s point is that no matter if women are good girls or bad

girls, they are under males’ ideologies. Beyoncé’s lyrics present more situations about the things

that women are going through. Beyoncé states, “I swear I’d be a better men, I’d listen to her,

‘Cause I know how it hurts, When you lose the one you wanted” (Beyoncé). In other words, men

are presented as irresponsible, distracted and disrespectful to their girlfriends. Also, Beyoncé is

suggesting that women are the ones that always get hurt in relationships. This kind of situations

affect men and women, and many artists like Beyoncé are trying to change that by promoting

feminism. But, there is more problem generated by men.

Men have a reputation for playing with women’s emotions. Tyson himself writes,

“Women are oppressed by patriarchy economically, politically, socially, and psychologically”


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(87). In making this comment, Tyson urges us as a society to support women and make a change.

In the past, it was not possible to help causes such as feminism due to poor technology.

However, technology has increased so much in the last couple of years, that now it is possible to

support different causes with the use of media and other different platforms. Beyoncé’s lyrics

present how men take advantage over women sentiments. Beyoncé agrees that men hurt women

when she writes, “Cause he’s taken you for granted, and everything you had got destroyed”

(Beyoncé). The essence of Beyoncé’s lyrics is that many women are despised by men. As a

result, women can get hurt because it affects them mentally and emotionally. Also, female can

feel bad about a relationship and more chiefly about herself. Beyoncé felt so bad about women’s

situations that she decided to write this song. The song is not about her life because she is

happily married with the rapper Jay-Z. In addition, Beyoncé and other artists are always showing

their support for feminism in websites such as YouTube for many reasons.

Technology has increased in the last decade now that people have platforms such as

YouTube to talk about feminism. In the article, “Keyword: Feminism: Evaluating

Representations of Feminism in YouTube,” by Betsy Eudey, the author explains the reason why

YouTube is such an important platform for education. Eudey suggested that “To help students

get a better handle on the meaning of feminism, I begin a lower-division undergraduate course

on women’s and feminism [...] I close the introductory section by having students visit

YouTube” (Eudey). Basically, this means that now educators are taking a step ahead and telling

their students that YouTube can be a good tool to learn about feminism. Also, students can learn

more about how feminism is affecting women in our society. This relates to Beyoncé’s song

because talks about feminism and Eudey required her students to find videos on YouTube.

People can agree with Eudey when she writes, “The students were asked to enter “feminism” [...]
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as a search term and to view at least three of the videos displayed” (Eudey). In other words, there

is evidence that proves that Beyoncé’s music can be beneficial for education since it transmits

important information such as women been hurt by men and feminism. On the other hand,

YouTube can be used to transmit negative ideas about women. Furthermore, there is a reason for

making the song such as “If I Were a Boy”.

Many people believe that song such as “If I Were a Boy” can give a misogynist

perspective of the world, but it shows problems that women’s in our society are living daily do to

men’s ideologies. However, there are different feminists’ theories that exhibit how women are

mistreated by men ideologies; also, it can affect them emotionally and physically. Music is very

important for society because of the content that each song has. For example, without songs like

“If I Were a Boy” on websites, none of us would know about the topic of feminism and that

women do not have equal opportunities. Also, music is not only used to talk about feminism, it is

used to show problems about the LGBTQ community, and more. This is the twenty-first century

and women still do not have equal salaries as men, they have been discriminated because they

want to be independent of men and have been mistreated by men. Beyoncé’s song urges us to

support women by promoting feminism and not patriarchal ideologies that can be harmful to

society. Also, is telling men that they have to be honest in their relationship in order to not hurt

women and vice-versa. Furthermore, by not doing anything about it, future generation will keep

hurting women or men. In addition, not everyone has the same thoughts; however, there are more

people that support feminism.


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Works Cited

Tyson, Lois. “Feminist Criticism.” Critical Theory Today: A user-friendly guide, 3rd Ed.,

Routledge, 2015, pp. 79-88.

Eudey, Betsy. “Keyword: Feminism: Evaluating Representations of Feminism in Youtube.,

ProQuest, vol. 29., University of Wisconsin, Winter 2008, p.1.

https://ezproxy.canyons.edu:2457/docview/221141758/A338A95C5DF40ECPQ/1?accou

ntid=38295.

University of California, Davis. “Modern Bey Feminism: Rap vs. Feminism”. ProQuest, Ulopp,

inc, 15 May. 2014,

https://ezproxy.canyons.edu:2457/docview/2018382259/C02F19DD63624252PQ/1?acco

untid=38295.

Beyoncé. “If I Were A Boy.” YouTube, 5 October. 2009, https://youtu.be/AWpsOqh8q0M.