Pop-Culture | Posted by Julie Z on 06/25/2011

Saturday Vids: Beyonce – Run the World (LIES)

I’m sure Beyonce had good intentions with her recent single “Run The World.” But unfortunately she didn’t exactly think that “girl power” sentiment through. Samhita from Feministing wrote a particularly insightful post about the dichotomy of this song, but hey. This is Saturday Vids. So I’m going to let Amber from the YouTube channel “Nineteen Percent” give an equally insightful interpretation of this song via video.

Here’s Beyonce’s song “Run The World” for reference:

And here’s Amber’s response:

Thanks to reader Greta for the tip!

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  • Rosemary @ at 6:16 am, June 27th, 2011

    I understand using the song as a starting point from which to explain why feminism is still relevant and that sexist oppression is alive and well. BUT. The whole calling-Beyonce-out-as-a-liar thing is getting kind of old. I really don’t think she’s saying that women are the gatekeepers of power in the world. I think it’s more a call to action for all women…an anthem for girl power. I think it’s asking a lot of our entertainers to demand that their music have a more nuanced message, as this complexity WILL be misinterpreted (like Rihanna’s Man Down video). All this Beyonce-hating is starting to seem anti-feminist. THINK OF THE SISTERHOOD!

  • Ann @ at 1:06 am, July 2nd, 2011

    I think Amber brings up some really hard-hitting and thoughtful points, but I also feel that she may be interpreting Beyonce’s song a bit too literally. I agree with Rosemary in that I don’t think Beyonce is saying that girls currently run the world or even that they should be running the world in place of men. As a feminist artist (Yes, Beyonce considers herself a feminist), I think she is both calling women to action and congratulating feminists on the tremendous progress they have brought about over the years. By “disrespect us, no they won’t” I believe that Beyonce is urging women not to tolerate disrespect on the basis of gender, not stating that men do not disrespect women. I was also really dissapointed that Amber chose to criticize Beyonce (who she referred to as ‘Mrs. Carter’-why paint her in such an anti-feminist light? Beyonce kept her last name after she got married!) with a reference to Jay-Z. That irked me–I’ve heard people judge Hilary Clinton in this way, as well, claiming that she cannot be a true feminist because her husband does not always support women’s rights so assertively. I don’t beleive it’s fair to judge a woman or make inferences about her beliefs based solely on those of her husband. I also noticed that Amber didn’t focus on some of the other lyrics in the song like:

    “I’m repping for the girls who taking over the world (signifying that girls do not currently run the world but are making progress in their fight to join their male counterparts in doing so); help me raise a glass for the college grads,”


    “Anyone rolling, I’ll let you know what time it is. You can’t hold me
    I work my 9 to 5–better cut my check.” (By ‘what time it is’ I think she’s telling anti-feminists to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s 2011 and more women are independant and working than ever before!)

    “To the other men that respect what I do, please accept my shine.” Look! A proud nod to male feminists.

    “we’re smart enough to make these millions; strong enough to bear the children–Then get back to business.” Beyonce is sending such a great message to girls here. You are as smart and strong as your male counterparts– enough so to be able to manage both a family and a career.

    It is NOT a good idea to knock girl power movements in art and music. Songs like this that portray women in a positive light should be praised, not boycotted! Just like Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” inspired people to embrace feminism in the 70’s, girl power anthems of today like Run the World (Girls) have the potential to spark the powerful movements necessary to move toward the egalitarian society Amber speaks of. I’ve read about and experienced the many self-esteem problems that specifically plague young girls and istening to songs like Run the World (Girls) makes me and others I know feel confidant and empowered. We NEED girl power anthems. I’ve witnessed how they can get people thinking and spark very feminist conversation. Amber says that what we really need is “actual work” towards equality and to stop wasting our time with “messages of girl power,” but I disagree. Messages of girl power in music and art have the ability to inspire tremendous movements and to spark a feminist interest in those who wouldn’t normally care.

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