WBEZ | Beyonce http://www.wbez.org/tags/beyonce Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Short hair, don't care: the unnecessary value placed on women's locks http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-08/short-hair-dont-care-unnecessary-value-placed-womens-locks-108344 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Instagram.jpg" title="Beyonce debuts her new hairstyle on Instagram. (Instagram)" /></p><p>Shortly after finishing the first American leg of her Mrs. Carter World Tour at Barclays Center in Brooklyn late Wednesday night, Beyoncé took to Instagram to post three pictures of her new <a href="http://www.today.com/entertainment/beyonce-chops-her-hair-reveals-new-pixie-cut-instagram-6C10874595" target="_blank">blonde pixie cut</a>.</p><p>Subsequent fan reaction, particularly on <a href="http://hollywoodlife.com/2013/08/08/beyonce-new-hair-tweets-short-haircut-reactions/" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, was swift and divisive. News outlets from&nbsp;<a href="http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/08/08/pixie-dream-girls-beyonce-joins-the-short-hair-club/" target="_blank">Time</a>&nbsp;to <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2013/08/08/beyonce-haircut-twitter/2633197/" target="_blank">USA Today </a>ran stories describing Beyoncé&#39;s new &#39;do as &quot;shocking&quot; and &quot;dramatic,&quot; as if the simple act of a woman changing her hairstyle was really so unbelievably groundbreaking that it deserved national attention. Seriously, why all of the hullabaloo? It&#39;s just hair.</p><p>Beyoncé probably abandoned her signature long, flowing tresses (<em>not</em> a <a href="http://www.justjared.com/2013/08/08/beyonce-didnt-wear-a-weave-stylist-talks-haircut/" target="_blank">weave</a>, according to her stylist) as a direct result of her hair getting<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/watch-beyonce-hair-stuck-fan-concert-article-1.1406468" target="_blank"> caught in a fan</a> during a Mrs. Carter show in Montreal just a few weeks ago. Still, why do people care so much about whether Beyoncé&#39;s hair is long or short, real or fake? And why is the societal judgment of a woman&#39;s beauty so often dependent on the length of her locks?</p><p>In 2009, Chris Rock made a brilliant documentary about this very subject.&nbsp;<em>Good Hair&nbsp;</em>delved deep into the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Hair_(film)" target="_blank">$9 billion</a> black hair industry, and examined why so many&nbsp;African American women are raised believing that the quality of their hair is inextricably tied to their self-worth.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Miley.jpg" style="float: left; " title="In May, Miley Cyrus unveiled a surprising new 'do via Twitter. (Twitter)" /></p><p>Of course, the desire for luxuriant hair is not an issue isolated to black women, nor to women of any one particular race or ethnic background. In fact, the notion of long hair as the ideal &quot;feminine&quot; standard of beauty extends all the way back to evolution and the process of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_selection" target="_blank">natural selection</a> among species, as thick and healthy hair or fur is frequently a sign of youth and fertility.</p><p>So, an inherent biological desire for males to spread their seed may &nbsp;be the ultimate reason why men typically prefer their female partners with long hair as opposed to short. This natural proclivity could also be attributed to the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisherian_runaway" target="_blank">Fisherian runaway </a>theory of sexual selection, i.e. long lustrous hair indicates a healthy, fertile person with an active sex drive. &nbsp;</p><p>Obviously, the world does not lack for gorgeous, short-haired women who also happen to have very healthy bodies and sex lives, thank you very much. And yet, I have learned through my own experiences and general cultural observations that there is a marked difference between &quot;guy pretty&quot; and &quot;girl pretty.&quot;</p><p>For example, I&#39;ve noticed that&nbsp;<a href="http://jezebel.com/5857858/in-defense-of-the-short+haired-woman" target="_blank">women</a>&nbsp;are more likely&nbsp;to perceive another woman with an Audrey Hepburn-style pixie as beautiful and chic, while men are traditionally more attracted to the long, windswept hair of say, a Victoria Secret model.</p><p>Certainly, not <em>all&nbsp;</em>men feel this way. In fact, many men actually prefer the super-short look popularized by starlets like Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams, successfully bucking the status quo. But for every man or woman gushing over Emma Watson&#39;s pixie &#39;do, there&#39;s a thousand more calling Miley Cyrus a boy or a <a href="http://metro.co.uk/2013/07/18/miley-cyrus-im-happy-to-be-called-a-lesbian-3888648/">lesbian</a>&nbsp;just because she made the totally radical decision to cut her hair short.</p><p>I&#39;ve always had long hair; and until recently, I had never purposefully examined the reason why. All I knew was that I had a &quot;fear&quot; of stylists cutting my hair too short, and that I&#39;ve always preferred the way that I look with long hair flowing about my shoulders. But was this fear born of my own personal predilections, or rather as a result of subconsciously-driven, deeply ingrained societal messages that longer hair is prettier, sexier, more feminine and more socially acceptable than shorter styles?&nbsp;</p><p>In a world where short hair on women is usually perceived as either &quot;edgy&quot; or <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/fashion/24Mirror.html?pagewanted=all&amp;loadDynamically=false&amp;commentsPosition=right&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">showing one&#39;s age</a>, and long hair still reigns as the ultimate feminine standard of youth and beauty, the choice to step outside the norm is not always an easy one to make. But regardless of how I or any woman might choose to present a personal style, I sincerely hope that those people with differing opinions of how woman <em>should</em> look would kindly leave their judgment at the door.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer and co-host of WBEZ&#39;s <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774" target="_blank">Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. You can also follow Leah on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett">Facebook</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 09 Aug 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-08/short-hair-dont-care-unnecessary-value-placed-womens-locks-108344 Even the most successful black women are not 'good enough' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/even-most-successful-black-women-are-not-good-enough-107881 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP124216093615%20%281%29.jpg" title="Yosra El-Essawy/Invision/AP" /></div><p dir="ltr">You&rsquo;re not good enough and you never will be and we need to remind you of this again and again. Do not get comfortable. What you&rsquo;ve done matters little. For every act is just an act, existing in a vacuum, not representative of the whole, or even a part of who you think you are.</p><p dir="ltr">This is what I imagine is being said to someone like Beyonce or Rihanna or Michelle Obama by the media and by society at large. It might not be said explicitly, but it is implied forcefully and continuously. They are three of the most visible black female public figures and they are three of the most controversial. Controversy, I realize now, is largely a manufactured tool, one that is used to control the narratives of the people around us. And the narrative of the black woman &ndash; public or not &ndash; rarely changes: you will not be good enough. Do not forget.</p><p dir="ltr">Regardless of what Beyonce or Rihanna or Michelle Obama does, they will get criticized for their actions. To the public, there is no such thing as a good or respectable black woman. They are women who are almost &ldquo;good,&rdquo; but not quite. The ways in which society tries to find and develop these characteristics of &ldquo;bad&rdquo; rarely differ from figure to figure.</p><p dir="ltr">All of their actions are up for debate, even when they are personal and non-threatening. What has Beyonce done but work hard to be the best performer she could possibly be? Well, for one they say, she is not a good enough feminist. One of my friends said that she was uncomfortable with the fact that Beyonce named her tour &ldquo;The Mrs. Carter Tour.&rdquo; But why is a woman&rsquo;s feminist cred eliminated because she changed her last name? Why do personal decisions that threaten no one eradicate one&rsquo;s support of equality between the sexes?</p><p dir="ltr">My mother changed her last name and I can&rsquo;t think of a better representation of feminism lived in the everyday world. Her strength, her work effort, her words about hard work and personal achievement, the visibility of shared responsibility &hellip; all of these things led me to feminism before I knew what that was.</p><p dir="ltr">Beyonce is not a good feminist. She is not feminist at all. This is what they say. A recent <a href="http://msmagazine.com/blog/2013/05/16/beyonce-rocks-the-cover-of-ms/" target="_blank"><em>Ms.</em> magazine article</a> fueled the flames not for what it said about Beyonce&rsquo;s feminism, but because anything was said at all. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/msmagazine/posts/10151597253413540" target="_blank">Readers</a> were upset that anyone could try to relate the two. Beyonce is not a feminist because she dresses &ldquo;provocatively.&rdquo; Beyonce is not a feminist because she changes her last name, because she shows vulnerability, because she is proud of her motherhood and her marriage. Beyonce is not a feminist because she is not what a feminist looks like. She is not a feminist because we say she is not. If we seek to promote the value in feminism and challenge the negative connotations of feminism in the public eye, tearing down a performer who speaks openly about women doing right for themselves, who literally called herself a feminist, does more harm than good.</p><p dir="ltr">When I see Michelle Obama on the screen, I see a woman like the women I grew up around. She is poised and beautiful and intelligent. She is also real. There is an argument to be made about the decorum of the First Lady, but I don&rsquo;t think Obama has ever questioned this.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP202679480534.jpg" style="float: left; height: 375px; width: 250px;" title="(AP/Abdeljalil Bounhar)" />Perhaps it is because she exists not as a wallflower, but as a powerhouse that we are threatened by an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/22/politics/michelle-obama-eye-roll" target="_blank">eye roll</a>. Perhaps because she is literal strength that we find her reaction to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/09/michelle-obama-heckler-handled-badly" target="_blank">heckler</a>&nbsp;as a wrong. As an outsider, these reactions shock me. Why are we upset that Obama reacts? What do we expect of her?</p><p dir="ltr">As an insider (an insider of the black female experience), they do not. Black women can&rsquo;t show their cards. If you have achieved something, the only way to continue rising is to keep one&#39;s head down. Opinions? Emotions? Reflections? Please! Take a seat!</p><p dir="ltr">In a recent, ridiculous story for the UK&#39;s <em>Daily Mail</em>, Liz Jones <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2347680/Rihannas-toxic-role-model-army-young-fans-says-LIZ-JONES.html" target="_blank">chastised</a> Rihanna for not acting as a perfect role model. Ignore the fact that one of the most consistent things about the singer is that she refuses the label of &quot;role model.&quot; Why do we expect this of her at all? Why is she not allowed to live her life as she chooses? Yes, she has young fans. But why do we act as if good parenting is no longer a viable option in preventing our children from &quot;bad&quot; influences? If we are to talk about the actions of pop stars, why is Rihanna criticized more than her peer, Lady Gaga, who too <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/27/lady-gaga-drugs-inspired-_n_696842.html" target="_blank">speaks openly</a> about drug use and recklessness? There exists a double standard, one that has become abundantly clear.</p><p dir="ltr">There exists, in the life of a black woman, public or not, the notion that the other shoe will drop. You are waiting for the challenge, the comeuppance, the moment in which others will tell you who you are and how you should live. This extends to the general female experience, too, and the Other experience as a whole. The other shoe waits. You wait.</p><p dir="ltr">This is why our interpersonal bonds are so important and public. I&rsquo;m remembering a man who said that black women are catty. That made no sense to me. The ease in which I build friendships with women who look like me cannot be explained. But perhaps there is the reality of what we must face and what we have been told. One can never overstate the importance of knowing your stories and feelings are important and true.</p><p dir="ltr">I am reminded of what my parents &ndash; my mother in particular &ndash; used to say: You will have to work twice as hard to get half as far. You do not always have the luxury to dress down, to not always be your best, to mess up. Any sign of weakness, of humanity, is a reinforcement of stereotypes we have yet to eradicate. I did not know this to be true then, but I understand it now. The world reveals itself.</p><div><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></p> Thu, 27 Jun 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/even-most-successful-black-women-are-not-good-enough-107881 Why Kelly Rowland's 'Dirty Laundry' is one of the most important songs of 2013 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/why-kelly-rowlands-dirty-laundry-one-most-important-songs-2013-107213 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cropbrit.jpg" title="(AP/Kin Cheung)" /></div><p>I am thinking about my friends and acquaintances in high school, how they arrived to class with bruises on their arms.</p><p>&quot;What happened?&quot; we used to ask.&nbsp;</p><p>And then they whispered something about their boyfriends, a volatile argument, and how it was their &quot;fault.&quot; They would brush questions aside, blaming themselves for the violence in their relationship. My friends were across the racial and ethnic spectrum, but their situations were eerily similar.</p><p>On Wednesday, former Destiny&#39;s Child member and solo artist Kelly Rowland released &quot;Dirty Laundry,&quot; a highly emotional, personal, and startlingly blunt song about her career and personal life. Production-wise, &quot;Dirty Laundry&quot; is as clear and straightforward as the lyrics. Structured with steady, yet ominous piano chords and a static drumbeat, &quot;Dirty Laundry&quot; plays like some of the best confessional r&amp;b songs. Rowland sings:</p><blockquote><p>Started to call them people on him/I was battered/He hit the window like it was me/Until it shattered/He pulled me out and said &#39;Don&#39;t nobody love you but me/Not your mama not your daddy and especially not B&#39;</p></blockquote><p>In the song, Rowland talks about her feelings in the industry and a violent relationship with an ex, but her situation is applicable and relevant to the circumstances of her listeners. According to a study from the U.S. Department of Justice in a compilation of statistics from the <a href="http://www.americanbar.org/groups/domestic_violence/resources/statistics.html#african_americans" target="_blank">American Bar Association&#39;s Commission of Domestic Violence</a>, &quot;Black females experienced intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 22 times the rate of women of other races.&quot; As a singer in the r&amp;b genre with audiences largely both black and female, Rowland&#39;s release can act as a call for action and a means of shedding light on an issue that still receives little attention.</p><p>The statistics for domestic violence are sobering. We assume that because we are not actively talking about it all the time that it is not there. We assume that if it is not in front of us everyday that it can&#39;t possibly exist. And yet, the numbers do not lie. The number one killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 is homicide at the hands of a current or former partner, says the ABA. As well, only 17% of African-American sexual assault survivors report their assault to the police. The importance of this song and Rowland&rsquo;s experiences can&rsquo;t be reiterated enough. Later in the song (and years after her relationship ended), she sings:</p><blockquote><p>I got my shit down pat/Think I had it good/And they don&#39;t know how bad/Fooled everybody/Except myself/Soaking in this hurt/Bathing in the dirt</p></blockquote><p>Like many of her listeners, Rowland kept her experiences a secret. Outside she exuded strength and charisma, but inside she kept a secret. She was shamed herself, never being able to reveal her experiences to the public.</p><p>The question of how much a public figure owes the public is debatable. I do not believe it was Rowland&rsquo;s responsibility to reveal this part of her life. And as the lyrics of the song indicate (Phone call from my sister; &#39;What&#39;s the matter?&#39;/She said, &#39;Oh no, baby, you gotta leave&#39;) family and friends like Beyonce knew. But Rowland&rsquo;s experience began nearly a decade ago. The courage to speak out can be difficult for many. If only one woman listens to Rowland&#39;s work and sees in it the courage to speak out that is one life potentially saved.</p><p>Art can and should mean different things to different people. As a whole however, art in and of itself is something that we consume constantly and voraciously. Music is the most accessible form of art. We seek in it something personal and true. It is no surprise that a variety of different genres exist to speak to both our personal tastes and our desire to clarify and reiterate life&#39;s questions through notes, chords, or lyrics. In &quot;Dirty Laundry,&quot; Rowland reveals her truth. That it is shocking to the public reflects our unwillingness to address an insidious facet of our culture.</p><p><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 16 May 2013 13:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/why-kelly-rowlands-dirty-laundry-one-most-important-songs-2013-107213 Five myths about feminism http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-04/five-myths-about-feminism-106826 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/taylor%20swift.jpg" title="Taylor Swift doesn't want you calling her a feminist. (Jezebel)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Female superstars like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Beyoncé want to empower young girls and be champions for women everywhere. Just don&#39;t call them feminists.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">When asked if they considered themselves feminists, they all balked at the term:&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><blockquote><p>&quot;I don&#39;t really think about things as guys versus girls.&quot; &mdash; Taylor Swift,<em> <a href="http://jezebel.com/5953879/dont-go-calling-taylor-swift-a-feminist-says-taylor-swift" target="_blank">The Daily Beast</a></em></p><p>&quot;I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have label yourself as anything? I&#39;m just a woman, and I love being a woman.&quot; &mdash; Beyoncé, <a href="http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/04/beyonc-is-a-feminist-i-guess.html" target="_blank"><em>Vogue UK</em></a></p><p>&quot;I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.&quot; &mdash; Katy Perry, Billboard&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://noisey.vice.com/blog/katy-perry-billboards-woman-of-the-year-wants-you-to-know-shes-not-a-feminist-and-why-that-matters" target="_blank">Woman of the Year</a>&quot;</p></blockquote><p>All of these statements are non-answers that completely miss the point. By <a href="http://www.google.com/#hl=en&amp;sclient=psy-ab&amp;q=definition+feminism&amp;oq=definition+feminism&amp;gs_l=hp.3..0l3j0i22i30.1842.5352.2.5551.25.19.3.3.3.0.185.1974.12j7.19.0...0.0...1c.1.11.psy-ab.dhH_P8PL5Q8&amp;pbx=1&amp;bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&amp;bvm=bv.45645796,d.aWM&amp;fp=f850d64596a94878&amp;biw=1220&amp;bih=603" target="_blank">definiton</a><a href="http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feminism" target="_blank">,</a> feminism is &quot;the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes.&quot; So if you &quot;believe in equality&quot; and &quot;the strength of women,&quot; then you are, in fact, a feminist. Why hem and haw around the question? Honestly, I don&#39;t think that these women have any idea what feminism actually is.</p><p>Say what you will about the &quot;adorkable&quot; Zooey Deschanel, but at least she has the balls to openly declare her feminism, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/01/04/zooey_deschanel_declares_her_feminism/" target="_blank">unlike most Hollywood starlets</a> these days:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;There is not an ounce of me that believes any of that crap that they say. We can&#39;t be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a f-cking feminist and wear a f-cking Peter Pan collar. So f-cking what?&quot;</p></blockquote><p>A modern aversion to the word &quot;feminism&quot; may stem from <a href="http://womenshistory.about.com/od/mythsofwomenshistory/a/bra_burning.htm" target="_blank">old myths</a> about the women&#39;s movement that still exist today (&quot;I&#39;m not a feminist because I&#39;m not a bra-burning, man-hating megabitch, etc.&quot;) and, in my opinion, should be myth-busted immediately.</p><p>Here are a few common misconceptions about feminism that are simply <a href="http://community.feministing.com/2010/08/09/myths-about-feminism-among-the-younger-generation/" target="_blank">not true</a>:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Myth #1: Feminists hate men.</strong></p><p>Feminism is about equality, not the superiority of one sex over another. Patriarchy can be <a href="http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/12/on-shoveling-snow-and-how-patriarchy-hurts-men.html" target="_blank">just as damaging to men</a> as it is to women (encouraging an &quot;alpha-male&quot; mentality, instructing boys never to cry or show emotions, etc.); so, by that rationale, men can be feminists too. Feminism isn&#39;t about shifting blame or shoehorning all of the world&#39;s problems onto men. It&#39;s about identifying areas of inequality and working together to fix them.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Myth #2: Feminists don&#39;t believe in marriage.</strong></p><p>Contrary to popular belief, not all feminists are bitter old spinsters, mannish lesbians or ice-queen CEOs who only care about climbing the corporate ladder. Just because you want to get married one day (to a man or a woman) does not mean that you care any less about women&#39;s equality at home or in the workplace.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Myth #3: Feminists are pro-abortion, bra-burning, bleeding heart liberals.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Yes, feminists tend to be more liberal than conservative, and collectively pro-choice for the most part. However, you don&#39;t have to vote Democrat to support women&#39;s equality, and defending a woman&#39;s right to choose does not make you &quot;pro-abortion.&quot; The key word here is <em>choice</em>, and that&#39;s the true beauty of feminism. Choosing to be a stay-at-home mom or dad doesn&#39;t make you any less of a feminist, just like choosing not to have children doesn&#39;t make you any less of a woman or man. Also, those &quot;hairy-legged women libbers&quot; of the sixties <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94240375" target="_blank">never burned their bras</a> in protest. True story.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Myth #4: Feminists are offended by any gesture of gallantry. </strong></p><p>I like when men open doors for me. It&#39;s a nice break from having them slammed in my face. Feminists may have introduced the idea of splitting the check (and treating our partners to dinner every now and then) but that doesn&#39;t mean we hate chivalry and romantic gestures as a whole. I appreciate when a guy offers to pay for dinner or insists on driving me home; however, I always make sure to return the favor at some point. As long as there&#39;s equality and balance in the relationship, then a feminist couple can take care of each other in whichever way feels right for them.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Myth #5: Feminists may have been necessary in the past, but we don&#39;t need them anymore.</strong></p><p>We&#39;ve come along way since the fight for women&#39;s suffrage and Roe v. Wade, but we still need feminism, both in the United States and around the world. Rape and victim-blaming, child brides, sex trafficking, genital mutiliation and disfigurement, honor killings, forced prostitution, infanticide of female babies in countries like China and India, domestic violence and other crimes against women are as <a href="http://listverse.com/2013/03/16/10-reasons-we-still-need-feminism/" target="_blank">rampant as ever</a>. The struggle for equality continues on, and feminists will not rest until every woman has the inalienable rights and freedoms that she deserves.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/leahkpickett">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-04/five-myths-about-feminism-106826 Three takeaways from Jay-Z and Beyoncé's Cuba trip http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-04/three-takeaways-jay-z-and-beyonc%C3%A9s-cuba-trip-106608 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-04-11%20at%202.39.40%20PM.png" style="float: right; height: 170px; width: 300px;" title="File: Jay-Z and Beyoncé visiting Cuba. (AP/File)" />Three takeaways from Jay-Z and Beyoncé&rsquo;s trip to Cuba:</div><p>1) It was <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/beyonce-jay-z-cuba-trip-89849.html">legal</a>, but that it was legal doesn&rsquo;t mean it wasn&rsquo;t utterly fraudulent.</p><p>2) How anybody on earth can think the embargo is doing any good is a continuing mystery of American politics.</p><p>3) Anybody surprised by Jay-Z and Beyoncé&rsquo;s trip to the island hasn&rsquo;t been listening to Jay-Z. And anybody listening to Jay-Z probably knows nothing feeds a false sense of rebellion more than prohibiting something.</p><p>Now, one at a time.</p><p>Did anybody think Jay-Z and Beyoncé were going to make such a noisy trip to the axis of evil without a legal license to do so and embarrass the hell of their buddy in the White House?</p><p>They&rsquo;re not that stupid, and Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart &ndash; who asked the Treasury for an investigation into the power couple&rsquo;s trip &ndash; should have known better.</p><p>That said, Jay-Z and Beyoncé&rsquo;s trip was legal because, let&rsquo;s face it, it&rsquo;s ridiculously easy to get a license for an &ldquo;educational&rdquo; trip to Cuba. Pretty much any U.S. citizen can just sign up and go with any of the 220 agencies, museums, churches and synagogues that take tour groups to Cuba.</p><p>A visit to a school, a meeting with artists and the trip qualifies as cultural exchange when, in fact, it&#39;s touristic. In other words, the qualifying aspects, for the most part, are performances. If the U.S. opened up to tourism to Cuba, most people would travel to the island the way they do everywhere else &ndash; on their own or in tourist groups, not for formal cultural exchange . (The Cuban government, by the way, knows Jay-Z and Beyoncé were there as tourists and described their trip as such on their websites, including <a href="http://www.cubadebate.cu/noticias/2013/04/05/beyonce-y-jay-zestuvieron-en-cuba-fotos/">Cubadebate.com</a>.)</p><p>Which brings us to the embargo itself and the travel restrictions that accompany it. In its 52 year history, the Cuban embargo has accomplished none of its stated goals, including free and fair democratic elections in Cuba. It has, however, caused incredible misery to the Cuban people and encouraged charades like the Jay-Z and Beyoncé trip.</p><p>The thinking is that it&rsquo;s Cuban-Americans in South Florida who force politicians into a corner on the issue. But look here: A 2012 Florida International University poll of Cuban Americans found that 57 percent <a href="http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/02/07/us-embargo-on-cuba-turns-50/#ixzz2QAqC8dE3">favored removing travel restrictions</a> to the island for all Americans and 58 percent supported reestablishing diplomatic relations.&nbsp;</p><p>Sure, the same poll found that 56 percent of Cuban Americans said they still supported the trade embargo, even though 80 percent said they did not believe the policy worked well.</p><p>What&rsquo;s that about? Wishful thinking, that&rsquo;s what that is, especially from an older generation who believes their lives were disrupted by the Revolution&rsquo;s advent. In any case, it&rsquo;s absurd to continue to formulate foreign policy on the crazy end of a contradiction.</p><p>As to Jay-Z &ndash; <em>negro, por favor</em>. This full-of-himself-fool has been exploiting his three minutes of once-upon-a-time drug dealing for street cred for more than two decades and comparing his rich privileged ass to Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Che Guevara for just as long.</p><p>Remember 2002&rsquo;s &ldquo;The Bounce&rdquo;?: &ldquo;<em>Rumor has it &lsquo;The Blueprint&rsquo; classic/ Couldn&rsquo;t even be stopped by Bin Laden/&nbsp; So September 11th marks the era forever/ of a revolutionary Che Guevara.&rdquo;</em></p><p>Jay-Z was <a href="http://tweetwood.com/trends/revolutionary%20jay">retweeting</a> that sh*t days before going to Cuba.</p><p>Or &ldquo;Public Service Announcement&rdquo; when he <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAbxCTABfis" target="_blank">full on appropriates</a> in the most laughable and absurd way of signaling he really doesn&rsquo;t understand sh*t about Che Guevara: <em>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m like Che Guevara with bling on, I&rsquo;m complex.</em>&rdquo; And then he talks about chains and the Lexus he&rsquo;s willing to kill for.</p><p>Then there was his <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15c3JuPG0kY">wearing a Che t-shirt</a> on&ldquo;Unplugged&rdquo; in 2001.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s the thing: Forcing Jay-Z and Beyoncé to pretend this was cultural exchange meant that they were handed right over to cultural authorities who parroted the Cuban government&rsquo;s familiar bullsh*t.</p><p>They were guaranteed not to hang out with ordinary Cubans, from whom they might have found that, while they were treating Havana like a playground, Roberto Zurbano, a black Cuban and a lifetime revolutionary, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/06/world/americas/writer-of-times-op-ed-on-racism-in-cuba-loses-job.html?partner=rssnyt&amp;emc=rss&amp;_r=0">lost his job</a> as a top literary editor (probably the only black man in such a position on the entire island) for writing an opinion piece in the <em>New York Times</em> about <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/24/opinion/sunday/for-blacks-in-cuba-the-revolution-hasnt-begun.html"><em>racism on the island</em>.</a></p><p>Indeed, Jay-Z came back from his Cuba trip full of self-righteous rebel defiance about doing what pretty much anyone can do, i.e., go to Cuba. The world woke up today to a new song of his, &ldquo;Open Letter,&rdquo; in which he pushes back about criticism of his Cuba trip. You can hear it <a href="http://www.missinfo.tv/index.php/jay-z-open-letter-timbaland-swizz-beats/">here</a>.</p><p>Yeah, it&#39;s just more pseudo-rebel bullsh*t.</p><p>(And even so, the <a href="http://stereogum.com/1318672/white-house-responds-to-jay-zs-open-letter/video/">White House</a> was asked about it at Thursday&#39;s news conference.)</p></p> Thu, 11 Apr 2013 12:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-04/three-takeaways-jay-z-and-beyonc%C3%A9s-cuba-trip-106608 The enigma of Beyoncé http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-02/enigma-beyonc%C3%A9-105318 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Beyonce.jpg" title="Beyoncé wows the crowd during Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII halftime show. (Getty Images)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Much to the befuddlement of my sports-loving Texas family, football has never been my thing. I&#39;d much rather watch feminist debates and class warfare on <a href="http://womensissues.about.com/od/television/a/Fashion-Passion-Class-Warfare-And-Feminism-Why-We-Love-Downton-Abbey.htm">Downton Abbey</a> than a bunch of dudes running around and tackling each other for reasons I do not care to understand.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And yet, I was compelled to tune in to this year&#39;s Super Bowl halftime show. Why? Football may be <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/01/16/169441397/love-of-football-may-kick-america-down-the-path-of-ruination">America&#39;s sport</a>, but Beyoncé is a national treasure.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Last night&#39;s performance was preceded by so much fanfare (Exhibit A: Gawker-issued&nbsp;<a href="http://gawker.com/5981034">Beyngo</a> cards) that I wondered if the actual show could possibly live up to the <a href="http://www.vibevixen.com/2013/02/gallery-of-beyonce-preparation-for-superbowl/">#BeyonceBowl</a> hype. Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and the Sandy Hook Elementary School choir began the evening on a high note, offering poignantly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/03/alicia-keys-national-anthem_n_2612496.html">soulful renditions</a> of The Star-Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful. Still, Beyoncé&#39;s halftime extravaganza was the much-anticipated main event, and despite my jittery fears to the contrary, she <a href="http://rapfix.mtv.com/2013/02/03/beyonce-turns-super-bowl-halftime-show-into-beyonce-bowl/">did not disappoint</a>.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>Fresh off the controversy of&nbsp;<a href="http://gawker.com/5978019/beyonce-lip+synched-the-star+spangled-banner-at-the-inauguration?popular=true">lip-syncing</a>&nbsp;the national anthem at President Obama&#39;s inaugaration, Beyoncé made an obvious effort to display her lovely live vocals on the Super Bowl stage. She panted audibly through her medley of hits (&quot;Love on Top,&quot; &quot;Crazy in Love,&quot;and &quot;Baby Boy&quot;), and turned her mic to the crowd whenever she ran out of breath. Did she always sound flawless? No, but she did manage to belt out some stellar riffs in between booty shakes. And flanked by an army of identically leather-clad dancers, she looked stunning per usual.&nbsp;</p><p>Then, as many <a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1701263/beyonce-super-bowl-halftime-performance-predictions.jhtml">sources</a> had predicted, <a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1700011/destinys-child-beyonce-super-bowl-halftime-show.jhtml">Destiny&#39;s Child</a> groupmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joined Beyoncé onstage for nostalgic three-part harmonies of &quot;Bootylicious,&quot; &quot;Bills Bills Bills,&quot; and &quot;Independent Women.&quot; They also sang and danced as her &quot;Single Ladies&quot; before quickly rushing aside, allowing Bey to close the show front and center with her hit power-ballad &quot;Halo.&quot; &nbsp;</p><p>The performance was an explosive success, aided even more so by a subsequent&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/03/super-bowl-power-outage-superdome-ravens-49ers_n_2612757.html">power outage</a>&nbsp;that left the stadium in darkness for an additonal 34 minutes. This triumph bodes well for Beyoncé&#39;s continued rise in 2013, drumming up even more positive publicity for the February 16 premiere of her HBO documentary <a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1701203/beyonce-hbo-documentary.jhtml"><em>Life Is But A Dream</em> </a>and the January 29 release of <em><a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music-arts/destiny-child-announces-new-music-article-1.1237461">Love Games</a></em>, her first Destiny&#39;s Child album in eight years.&nbsp;</p><p>But while Beyoncé&#39;s music has inspired legions of devoted fans, her offstage persona has been the subject of increased scandal and speculation. At the zenith of her fame, she has been accused of<a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/268757/beyonc-baby-hoax-what-s-the-deal-with-deflating-bump"> faking her pregnancy</a> with daughter Blue Ivy, worshipping Satan as a member of the <a href="http://gawker.com/5981088">Illuminati</a>&nbsp;alongside husband Jay-Z and being a straight-up&nbsp;<a href="http://gawker.com/5974853/gq-interview-confirms-that-beyonce-is-fucking-crazy-and-exactly-as-you-imagine-her">crazy person</a>&nbsp;in general. Perhaps people find it too hard to believe that one woman could embody such pristine vocal and physical perfection without the help of the devil and a good surrogate.&nbsp;</p><p>Maybe her new documentary, which includes deeply personal&nbsp;video diaries of her most <a href="http://www.wetpaint.com/network/video/beyonc-talks-pregnancy-in-hbo-documentary-sneak-peek-video">vulnerable moments</a>&nbsp;behind-the-scenes, will help to dispel at least some of the rumors surrounding her mysterious inner life. But will her meticulous self-direction still prevent fans from seeing the <em>real</em> Beyoncé, whoever that is?&nbsp;</p><p>Admittedly, <a href="http://www.gq.com/women/photos/201301/beyonce-cover-story-interview-gq-february-2013">this cover story</a>&nbsp;for GQ magazine&#39;s February issue did not&nbsp;do her any favors in the egomania department. But really, who cares if she&#39;s a diva? In my opinion, a 16-time <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_awards_and_nominations_received_by_Beyoncé_Knowles">Grammy Award winner</a> and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyoncé_Knowles">international superstar</a>&nbsp;has earned the right to be a little full of herself. Beyoncé is an incredibly talented performer (with or without a backing track) and she owns it.</p><p>Oh, and she also just announced <a href="http://pitchfork.com/news/49407-beyonce-announces-the-mrs-carter-show-tour/">The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour</a>, coming to Chicago&#39;s United Center on July 17.&nbsp;Long live Queen Bey!</p><p><em><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/iniGJdFmy44" width="620"></iframe></em></p><p><em>Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/leahkpickett">@leahkpickett.</a></em></p></p> Mon, 04 Feb 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-02/enigma-beyonc%C3%A9-105318 A conspiracy unfolding (or folding): Beyonce's baby-bump (or lack thereof) http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2011-10-12/conspiracy-unfolding-or-folding-beyonces-baby-bump-or-lack-thereof-930 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-12/beyonce baby.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>What you are about to read may shock and surprise you. It’s not meant for people who believe everything the “lamestream” media tells them, so please close this window unless you have an open mind.</p><p>I’ve never been a conspiracy theorist, although I’ve always been fascinated by people who don’t go with the flow when it comes to major events: the moon landing, the Holocaust, 9/11 and so on. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I admire those who believe that the majority of the world has been living a giant lie, but there is something intriguing about conspiracy theorists’ passion and the way they string together their bits of proof to form a cogent-seeming argument.</p><p>Well, I’m excited to announce that I have finally found a conspiracy that I can get behind, and it’s this:</p><p>Beyoncé Knowles is not really pregnant.</p><p>I had heard some rumors that there was something fishy going on when Beyoncé announced her pregnancy at the VMA’s a few weeks back: there were <a href="http://sandrarose.com/2011/08/beyawnce-displays-fake-baby-bump-on-mtv-vmas/" title="http://sandrarose.com/2011/08/beyawnce-displays-fake-baby-bump-on-mtv-vmas/">grumblings that it seemed odd</a> that she had such a large baby bump (obligatory ‘ugh’ at that term) for being relatively early in her pregnancy. But I didn’t pay much attention. I’ve never been pregnant, and who knows with baby bumps. They’re mysterious: perhaps maybe they grow and shrink or look different depending on what you wear.</p><p>But now the scales have fallen from my eyes. I am convinced that the bump is fake, thanks to this video, which seems to show Beyoncé’s baby bump folding in and collapsing on itself as she sits down for an interview (and some people claim that the singer displays a panicked expression on her face as she sits down, as if she knows her entire life is a lie and it was just displayed on TV):</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ZqYIsTNl4mM" width="560" frameborder="0" height="315"></iframe></p><p>I am ready to get on-board with this conspiracy. I’m pretty sure that this “Occupy Wall Street” stuff has just been a smokescreen thrown up to distract us from the fake baby bump (because does anybody really know what those protesters are after? I don’t.) Why are we not talking about this? Why is it not scrolling news along the bottom of CNN? Because we’re afraid of the truth.</p><p>There are some theories as to why Beyoncé would fake a baby bump or pregnancy, a popular one being that she’s not actually pregnant, but has a baby incubating in a surrogate (further Beyoncé-hating theories speculate that she’s doing this because she’s too selfish and vain to put her body through pregnancy, as we all know any woman who isn’t quick to embrace all the swelling, weight gain, fatigue and discomfort of pregnancy is a terrible person). Beyoncé doesn’t &nbsp;want to admit that she’s using a surrogate, and so is faking her pregnancy until the surrogate delivers the baby.</p><p>Beyoncé has of course <a href="http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/confidential/speculation-grows-that-beyonces-baby-bump-isnt-real-after-an-appearance-on-australian-television/story-e6frf96o-1226165045488" title="http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/confidential/speculation-grows-that-beyonces-baby-bump-isnt-real-after-an-appearance-on-australian-television/story-e6frf96o-1226165045488">refuted </a>these ridiculous claims, but some say, if those claims are so ridiculous, why address them in the first place? “Doth protest too much”, meet “lady.”</p><p>There are others who claim that Beyoncé was photographed recently displaying a <a href="http://www.usmagazine.com/healthylifestyle/news/beyonce-bump-201169" title="http://www.usmagazine.com/healthylifestyle/news/beyonce-bump-201169">nude baby bump </a>while she was at the beach recently, and that can’t be faked, but this is where my own expertise comes in. Feed me a big dinner and I can show you a stomach that looks at least seven months pregnant, if not ten or eleven. Plus, anybody who watches <em>Arrested Development</em> knows that realistic false baby bumps <a href="http://daddytypes.com/2006/10/21/julia_louis-dreyfus_arrested_development_fake_pregnancy_belly_on_ebay.php" title="http://daddytypes.com/2006/10/21/julia_louis-dreyfus_arrested_development_fake_pregnancy_belly_on_ebay.php">do exist</a>.</p><p>So, yes, based on the folding in of the belly and the fact that I think the bikini photos could be faked, I’m going to go with this conspiracy. Why? Because this conspiracy is fun. If it turned out to be true, how crazy would that be? Those of us who believe in it would all look like geniuses. And if it’s not true, isn’t it so much better to think it is than to contemplate what’s going on in Greece, or how the Bears are doing, or that the days are getting shorter and shorter? This is so much more fun to think about than real life! It’s my new religion, basically is what I’m saying.</p><p>As for my own theory, I think that Beyonce is wearing the fake belly in order to keep snacks in there at the ready. It’s as good a reason as any.</p><p>I want to believe.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 12 Oct 2011 16:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2011-10-12/conspiracy-unfolding-or-folding-beyonces-baby-bump-or-lack-thereof-930